Fri, Dec 7
Dennis the menace
Boogie Inc and Mixed Signals teamed up again to bring NYC deep house producer/DJ Dennis Ferrer to Revival , which appears to have turned into the default venue for soulful dance music lately.
Got there too late to catch the house breakdancing crew, Warehouse Jacks . But their presence was still felt, since most of them stuck around all night doing their thing wherever they could find space, which seemed to inspire non-professionals to get loose.
As was the case at the Joe Claussell gig a couple of weeks ago, the sound started off deafeningly loud if you were in front of the stage but got noticeably quieter after last call. Unfortunately, Ferrer responded by cranking up the volume at the mixer, which only led to unpleasant distortion.
Since the promoters were throwing a late-night after-party in the basement, he would have been smarter to just end his set and move it downstairs, where there was still bass.
Nevertheless, it was still a good night of dancing, and Ferrer rocked a pleasing balance between new-school techy deep house and soulful vocals. The live percussion provided by iDrum added some nice organic textures to the more electronic tracks, although by the end of the night the endless hand drumming was starting to wear out its welcome.
Sat, Dec 8
Going out West
You can't help being struck by how drastically the West Queen West neighbourhood has changed in recent years. What was once a fairly desolate strip at night is now consistently hopping. Despite continuing complaints about gentrification, you have to admit the area has a lot of colour and amusing idiosyncrasies.
Stopped in at the Drake Hotel Underground to catch a bit of a guest appearance by Montreal's Jordan Dare as part of Lipstick, Cherry . Pounding out electro-house thumpers, he did a decent job mixing it, but the mood in the room was restrained and mellow compared to the vibe he put out. Of course, the time of the year likely had a lot to do with that, what with the effect of the cold weather and burnout from holiday office parties and cramming for exams.
If the Drake is most frequently fingered for causing changes to the neighbourhood, nearest boutique hotel competitor the Gladstone shares some of the blame for revitalizing the area. The monthly Turning Point party in the ballroom, one of the most consistent nights of rare grooves in the city, has a unique tropical funk focus. The karaoke in the front room is legendary and attracts big crowds every weekend.
Chilled out for a while at Unit , one of the more underrated bars on the strip. A few doors east, the Sticky Fingers crew had a good little dance floor going at the Beaver , a bar that often functions as Queen West's unofficial queer headquarters.
Factor in the success of charming little bars like Lot 16 and the Beaconsfield along with the hipster dance club flash of the Social and you're looking at an exceptionally vibrant miniature entertainment district, even if it does attract its share of suburbanites and condo lofters out on their weekend rampages.