Went out Saturday night to the monthly Super Heavy Reggae party at 56 Kensington, which features selectors Freindlyness and Jerms along with a few MCs.
It was blessed with a packed house this month, turning the grungy little basement into a sweat-soaked sauna.
A few more nights like this and it might be time for Super Heavy Reggae to move up to a larger venue. While it has a certain decrepit charm, 56 Kensington's a notoriously difficult space, mainly because of the owners.
It's not unusual for DJs to show up and find the sound system disconnected and no staff present who know how to plug it back together. During the Boutique crew's New Year's party, owner Leslie decided the choice of music was too mellow and forced them off the decks so he could put on one of his CDs, which promptly cleared out the club.
Despite all this weirdness, 56 Kensington has provided a much-needed venue for events that other bars might not have taken a chance on.
Super Heavy Reggae is a prime example. Both DJs focus for the most part on older vintage roots reggae but play some contemporary beats as well. The party has a casual, relaxed feel. While one is looking for his next track, someone else is riding the fader and tweaking the echo on the MC's mike.
Unexpected guests find themselves getting caught up in it, like when DJ Chocolate made an unannounced appearance behind the turntables later on Saturday.
a night without a name
The anti-hyped Night Without A Name had its second monthly incarnation last Saturday at Volume and managed to pull in a very respectable-sized crowd. The bar reached capacity early on, leaving some waiting outside, which, for an event that doesn't rely on the names of the DJs or the reputation of the promoters, is pretty impressive.
Though it was packed, the night is still very much a lounge-style event, because the bar doesn't have the space or sound system power to encourage dancing. The music is mostly on the mellow side but is consistently good.
Though it might not be the kind of place to choose as a final destination, it's a good place for pre-party preparations, where you can sit and talk without forking over a cover charge. Various elements of house, techno, nu-jazz and deep electronic music are represented, with little regard for traditional genre distinctions.
The performers were once again hidden from view by translucent material, allowing them to maintain the anonymity established by their promotion strategy. This month they were joined by an unnamed live performer who was in town for a gig Sunday night. While I won't reveal his identity, I will hint that he used to live in Toronto but has since set up shop in Montreal and is known for edgy experimental laptop performances.
rex's jazz rev
By Saturday night, word had spread that the Rex's hours had been extended for the International Association for Jazz Education Conference, allowing it to continue serving until 5 am. This led to a surreal situation at 3 am, when everyone from the neighbouring club district decided to try to get in for a few more drinks.
The size of the lineup going around the corner must have led visitors to the city to believe it was the new hip dance club. It's unlikely that many of those patrons will be coming back for jazz once the hours return to normal, but it did introduce a whole new segment of Toronto's nightlife to the jazz institution.