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The Twilight Zone was Toronto's equivalent to the legendary clubs of Chicago and New York. It introduced the sounds of house music to the city and set the standard for other local clubs. Ten years later, people still speak reverently of the institution.
Last Saturday at a west-end warehouse space, the Twilight Zone's history was celebrated with a reunion party that stirred the memories of veterans and revealed to those of us too young to catch it the first time around what made it so special.
The space featured two rooms, and the classic house sounds were provided by a mixture of original Zone-era DJs and younger mixers who were inspired by those sounds.
In the small room, Tony Assoon and Dave Campbell worked the crowd into a frenzy, cutting the volume to inspire call-and-response sing-alongs and throwing down every seminal track from the past 20-something years. Even though it was completely rammed, the dancers managed to find room to shake their asses like it was the last disco on earth.
The bigger second room attracted more of the younger partiers. Jason Palma played a stirring set, much less disco- and jazz-oriented than he's known for and at times fairly trippy and aggressive. Following him were Dino and Terry, who devastated the early-morning crowd with classic after classic. Somewhere in there Gene King and Phat Albert (aka Albert Assoon) played as well, but with the elevated DJ booths the focus was on the music and dancing, not trainspotting and DJ worship.
The biggest revelation of the night was the difference between the old-school veteran audience and the younger curiosity seekers. Many of the current scenesters were content to lurk in the back corners, whereas their older counterparts were busy losing their shit on the dance floor.
Hearing all that classic house in one night highlighted how much the music has changed in the past 10 years and how little current deep house sounds like the classic tracks that inspired it. The older productions might sound raw and primitive compared to the lush styles favoured today, but that harder, simpler edge inspires such exuberant dancing.
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The brand new all-girl promotion team Flirt Entertainment threw their first party last Friday at Klinik, bringing in New York legend Timmy Regisford of the Shelter for an extended late-night set.
For a first attempt, it went fairly well. Although attendance wasn't huge, it was definitely respectable, and the people who came out all seemed to be feeling it. A good debut, but the team might want to reconsider its name, as Flirt is already being used by local UK garage promoters.
Granted, UK and American garage are worlds apart and attract very different crowds, but it could still end up being the source of confusion.
Regisford was in top form, working the effects unit and EQ adeptly and playing a good mixture of familiar anthems and hot-off-the-presses new releases. Although he was slated to play a six-hour set, I doubt that he made it that late -- the club was clearing out by 3 am. The deep house fans in Toronto just don't have the energy to stay out all night any more unless it's for an underground warehouse party.
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Checked out the Solma party on Friday at Sugar, featuring special guest Jay Tripwire of Vancouver. A good-sized group turned out in support, which bodes well for the up-and-coming promoters.
The Solma team rented extra sound for the event to add some needed oomph to the rolling bass lines, but unfortunately, the club's DJ set-up was acting up, causing one of the turntables to skip much too easily.
Despite the technical difficulties, all the DJs made the best of it, spinning a bumpin' mix of trippy, funky house music with the occasional touch of acid. Putting Tripwire on at 1:30 am may not have been the best idea, though, since the crowd was already starting to thin out.