It couldn't be more obvious. Midway across the Queen East bridge over the Don, surrounding the entrance to a south-facing set of stairs, 60 or so bicycles are chained to any available piece of steel. Either unlawfully fun activity is going on in the bushes beside the Don Valley Parkway or Igor Kenk is in the house.
Down the stairs, under a canopy of brush and trees, I follow a path in the midnight darkness along the river until I reach a derelict fenced-off bridge illuminated by the full moon and a dull red light. As I slither through a jagged rip in the mesh, I'm greeted by girl holding a pillow sack like it's Halloween. Pay-what-you-can seems like a fair price for a guerrilla party, so I happily cough up a few bones. Besides, that generator making a low hum in the background didn't come free.
"Hey, man, you know where I can get some acid or E?" a young dude with long hair asks me inside. My answer of "Sorry, no" earns me a look of disgust, and he continues on his quest for mind alteration. Though there appears to be a substantial contingent of ravers who seem perfectly at ease ingesting narcotics under the Gardiner Expressway, most of these nightcrawlers look dapper and art-school chic, puffing on Js or slugging back import tall cans.
Granted, we aren't gathered on this condemned pile of steel rods and beams to hear a breakbeat DJ or Phish-like jam band. The music is pure noise rock, mostly in duo form. Underground ramblers like Not the Wind Not the Flag and Romo Roto create cacophonies of percussion and screams that float into the crisp night air. In between their sets, a DJ kneels down, spinning eclectic vinyl on Technics placed on concrete steps.
Deeper into the morning, as the crowd swells to over 100, the vibe grows increasingly untamed. Revellers begin climbing the scaffolding around the bridge, forcing the organizer to plead with them to get down. This might be the only moment all night when a "rule" is both violated and observed.
The cherry on this socially subversive cake is the fact that all night you can see flashing red and blue lights in the distance where officers are working a checkpoint on the Gardiner, this illegal party happening almost literally under their noses.