feel the beet
It's an unlikely proposition -- a weekly Sunday-night soul, funk and hiphop party in a vegetarian restaurant. Somehow, the Red Beet Lounge at Fressen has managed to maintain its momentum, and it's still one of the most consistently worthwhile things to do on a Sunday night.
Last week, residents General Eclectic and Tariq were joined by Son of Soul for a warm, intimate night of soulful beats. Even though the night is very much a lounge, a small dance floor magically appears wherever people can find the space to move.
One of the things you can't help but notice is the high number of DJs and promoters who make Red Beet their last stop of the weekend. In attendance last week were deep house DJ and dancer Dale Arsenault, Roundtable Distribution's David Cooper, tech-house DJ Zuzanna Grimm, David and Irving of Promise and City Rhythm residents DJ Nova and Duncan James.
rub a dub
The Axum Dub Militia party at Labyrinth Lounge on Friday brought back a lot of memories. Old-school jungle was the focus here, plus dub reggae in the basement, and the vibe was eerily similar to when d 'n' b first started making inroads into the local party scene.
Since those days, the dominant sound and rhythm of drum 'n' bass has changed greatly, and almost no one uses the term jungle to describe it. But judging from the scene at this little party, the original junglist strain has managed to survive and gain new converts away from the spotlight.
There were some who've been following this music since its local introduction, but the majority looked too young to have caught the sound the first time around.
Sure, its production techniques and sound seem primitive compared to the more polished techno sheen of contemporary d 'n' b, but it has more energy and raw funkiness. This form uses a much larger variety of rhythms because the beat had yet to be defined when much of it was made. The other big difference is the overt reggae influence, which sometimes gets a bit cheesy, especially when it involves very white MCs doing bad imitations of Jamaican patois.
On the topic of T.O.'s party scene, people often complain that clubs are far less interesting venues then warehouses, galleries or other alternative spaces.
But while off-the-radar parties have virtually disappeared, there's been a resurgence of low-key events in weird locales. Despite the facilities' sometimes makeshift quality, these can have an undeniable charm.
Late Friday night I ended up at a place called Ting, which looks more like someone's apartment than anything else. During normal hours it's a vegetarian restaurant serving fancy food in a decidedly modest environment.
As it gets later, the focus shifts to music and socializing, in this case accompanied by DJs Iron Will and guest Anousheh playing ballads, roots reggae, jazz and soul. Bands play at midnight every Saturday, although it's hard to imagine a very big outfit squeezing into such a tight space.
The concept is still evolving, and the hours are somewhat arbitrary and random, so calling first is probably a good idea: 416-364-3310.