WEMF 2K3 featuring BT , ORKIDEA , COR FIJNEMAN , RAY KEITH , KRAFTY KUTS , DJ RAP , JAMES HOLDEN , CHRIS LIBERATOR , KENNY KEN , BAILEY and many more, Friday to Sunday (July 25-27), at Trudeau's Park (Tweed, Ontario). $75, advance $65 (before July 25), two-day packages. 416-631-8821. www.wemf.com
Considering the chaos that's been Ryan Kruger's past few months, he seems pretty composed. The World Electronic Music Festival (WEMF) three-day rave that Kruger's helped run for the past nine years has been plagued by controversy and problems with authorities, and this year's festival's no different. In fact, the entire event almost didn't happen. After obtaining a permit to hold the event on the farm in Bobcaygeon where it's been held for the past two years and spending tens of thousands on promotion and site preparation, the festival, organized by Destiny Productions, was blocked by local town councillors through a zoning bylaw. While the promoters tried to deal through legal channels, SARS hysteria hit, causing some American DJs and patrons to decide to sit this one out. Then one of the booking companies that supplied many of the artists went belly up.
Add to this the fact that, in terms of attendance, the rave scene peaked long ago, and Kruger (also known as DJ OS/2) was about to give up.
"We were at the point of just cancelling the whole thing, but we sat back and thought for a few days and decided to see if we could find a new venue. We found a place but didn't have enough time to get an outdoor permit, so we had to change the whole plan, and that's how we got to WEMF Plan B."
Conveniently, there were fewer performers on the slate, thanks to the bankrupt American booker, so moving into a smaller venue didn't force the organizers to cancel many DJs. Using the banquet hall and some other rooms in Trudeau's Park, Tweed, Destiny will still be a multi-stage round-the-clock three-day party, and the licensed campground will mean that camping will be much less makeshift than in previous years. As an unintended bonus, those who actually want to sleep at some point will be able to escape the music, which will happen indoors.
"This way, if people want to sleep they can. They can bring booze if they're 19, drive right up to their campsites and have campfires, all of which they could never do before for legal reasons."
Because there will only be one big room (plus four smaller ones), the festival's gone back to its early strategy of having more than one type of music per room, rather than keeping the breakbeats in one space and four-on-the-floor in another.
Kruger repeatedly brings up the theme of a return to Destiny's roots. There's a plan in the works to revive the infamous Destiny Fridays as a weekly all-night alcohol-free event using a newly renovated warehouse space that has a long history with the after-hours set. The days of huge parties every weekend may be over, but Kruger feels the impending end of tobacco-sponsored mega-parties may force people to get back in touch with what first drew them to parties.
This is Destiny's 10th anniversary. Although it wasn't the first rave company in Toronto, it ended up being the biggest, ushering several generations of ravers through that stage in their lives. (Most people spend a few years raving regularly before moving on, burning out or growing up.)
"It freaks me out sometimes when I meet people at one of our parties and realize they were only seven when we first started throwing raves." Whether he knows it or not, Toronto wouldn't have an international reputation for its dance music scene if it hadn't been for people like him laying the groundwork and introducing a steady stream of new faces.