Pulse: My week in the clubs

Rating: NNNNNboogie nightsRolla Boogie, the Sunday-night roller-skating jam at Kool Haus, has turned out not to be just a novelty.

Rating: NNNNN

boogie nights

Rolla Boogie, the Sunday-night roller-skating jam at Kool Haus, has turned out not to be just a novelty after all. It’s still drawing a decent-sized crowd, though it’s now housed in the Kool Haus section of the Guvernment only.

It’s been scaled back since the opening, but the mix of people remains wide — some reliving their younger days, while others recreate scenes they’ve only seen in 70s films.

DJ Aristotle’s taste in classic funk, disco and hiphop is impeccable, although by the end of the night he tends to drop a bunch of current R&B and hiphop hits, which may destroy the illusion for some of you.

roy’s rave

There’s been speculation that Friday’s (February 8) Renaissance party at Roy Thomson Hall is timed to take advantage of planned renovations. What better time to trash a space than before the wrecker’s ball hits?

Actually, there are two more weeks of concerts slated after this big party, and Renaissance promoters have been fairly vocal on local message boards telling people to respect the venue.

The choice of Roy Thomson Hall has less to do with renovations than with facilitating the return of the big parties to Toronto, but with an image change.

As tends to happen every few years in the party scene, one generation of ravers is entering into a more mature period of their clubbing lives and trying to distinguish itself from the kids. All of a sudden, rave-oriented message boards are buzzing with partiers praising 19+ events and eager to blame any drug problems on the ‘kiddies.’

Funny how things change.

this is it

With so many similar clubs crammed into the small area of the entertainment district, venues wanting to distinguish themselves from the herd are opening in unexpected neighbourhoods.

IT Nightclub, situated in what used to be known as the Party Centre, at Church and Shuter, has been known for the past year in the gay community for it’s popular Sunday-night party, It’s A Boys Life.

The new Friday night, Gallery, is aiming at a straighter crowd and features weekly resident Matt C along with regular international guests and rotating residents Amtrak and Gryphon. It’s a nice space with good sound, and will soon be bigger and better when the first floor reopens after renovations are finished.

It’s too early to tell whether the crowds will be willing to cross Yonge to get to the club. And it’s a large space, so the promoters have their work cut out if they want it full.

gimme shelter

Since his last visit to Toronto, Timmy Regisford’s New York institution, the decade-old Shelter, closed and moved to a new space. Early reports indicate the move may have revitalized the night, as the process of rebuilding the influential club in a new venue has helped it rally the support of many who had retired from the scene.

Last Friday, Regisford headlined at Roxy Blu, giving the crowd a condensed version of one of his trademark soulful house journeys. He’s a crowd-pleaser first and foremost, so there were lots of anthems and not many rarities. He tends to avoid long, drawn-out mixes, preferring to cut straight to the hook.

At Shelter, he plays every week for most of the night, and is legendary for being able to keep dancers on the floor for more then eight hours. To be limited to three hours in a club like Roxy Blu forced him to give an approximation of what he’s known for. He can still work a crowd, but probably didn’t impress many DJs.


With the current trend toward upscale, glitzy clubs comes an increased need for downmarket, adventurous venues.

Only in Kensington Market could you find a basement bar featuring punk rock one night and broken beat another, as well as parties highlighting electro, dub or deep house.

56 Kensington is also the venue every Saturday for a revived Soulutions, one of the surprise successes of last summer. Drawing a younger crowd than most other garage events, Soulutions also attracts scene regulars.

Resident Adam Khan spins fewer current hits than do many locals, and favours a tougher, edgier deep house sound. He’s joined weekly by quality local guests, some better known than others.

You may be put off by the gritty quality of the bar, but venues like this are the ones to watch for emerging talent and sounds. Besides, at least you won’t be complaining about how expensive the drinks are.

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