Weekly dance nights are hard to sustain, even if your crowd doesn't mind coming back to the same club each week and hearing the same style of music. Those who keep a residency alive for more than a year are worth noting. The fact that weekly mod night Blow Up has been keeping the spirit of British rock alive for eight years is nothing short of mind-blowing.
Personally, I don't think Toronto's affection for everything mod is that healthy. Then again, our club scene is known for its diversity, so why not throw a night centred around the English youth culture movement of the 1960s?
Not that the night is exclusively retro. The DJs make a point of keeping the first couple of hours focused on modern Brit rock and complementary American sounds, but you can still count on hearing The Who's I Can't Explain every week.
I hadn't attended since it was held at the now defunct Lemon Drop seven years ago, so I checked it out last Saturday at the newly renovated Lee's Palace and found that not much has changed.
Originally, Blow Up attracted mainly university students. Today, although quite a few youngsters bounce around the dance floor, the night's older original fans still show up each week. Since the club stays open until 4 am, the crowd has started arriving later and later and the bar doesn't fill up until after midnight.
Lee's doesn't seem to have put much thought into the mainly cosmetic renovations. The new dressing room, no bigger than the old one, has been moved to the other side of the stage. It also doubles as a DJ booth and load-in area, which is awkward, to say the least.
The sound system is still the same, but the speakers that used to be suspended from the ceiling have been dropped down to the ground, a move that's actually had a negative effect on sound.
As for the decor, it's a lot more sober and neutral now, which is a nice change from its former dated look. The changes make the room seem less cavernous, which could be good or bad depending on your perspective.
I still don't understand the decision to raise the stage. It was already a decent size and higher than that of most mid-size Toronto clubs.
Mr. V's mixed CD
Started off Friday night at Bauhaus for a special edition of Layers , featuring Mr. V from New York City. I was a bit shocked to walk into an empty club, but soon realized the party was on the second floor, which was full and sweaty.
There was a good gender mix, a nice change from often male-dominated underground music events. Good vibes and nice sounds from Mr. V, although he didn't pull out too many surprises. Apparently, he only plays CDs on tour, since his crate was stolen on an overseas gig.
Say what you will about authenticity, but nobody would have known if they didn't look behind the decks.
Voices packed out
Also Friday night, Voices featured vocalist Byron Stingily and DJ Frankie Feliciano at Roxy Blu . The first thing I noticed walking through the doors was the clouds of steam billowing out into the winter air, generally a good sign.
Inside the packed club, the crowd was feeling Stingily's performance. Though they cheered loudly, it was obvious that most partiers were interested only in the classic anthems, which must have been a bit disheartening for Stingily.
Feliciano's set immediately after picked up on that. He started off rooted deep in pre-house sounds before bringing the tempo up to current club speeds.
It was a good night, and the turnout promises good things for the deep house scene over the next year.