Club Focus bouncer Marc Kyriacou. Photo courtesy of Johnbronski.
Article originally published February 29, 2012 by The Grid online (TheGridTO.com).
Denise Benson looks back at the all-ages venue that first introduced many of today’s top nightlife-industry players to the Toronto dance scene—and also served as a breeding ground for infamous ‘80s street gang The Untouchables.
BY: DENISE BENSON
Club: Club Focus, 14 Hagerman
Years in operation: 1986-1989
History: Club Focus was housed in a nondescript, two-storey building that would have been constructed during the decades (1870-1960) when Toronto’s original Chinatown was centered near the corner of Elizabeth and Louisa. The one-block-stretch that runs parallel to the north end of City Hall, from Elizabeth to Bay, was later renamed Hagerman.
In the 1950s, many buildings in this still-industrial area—with the original City Hall and Eaton’s Annex main store nearby—were obtained by the city for the construction of Nathan Phillips Square and a new City Hall, which opened in 1965 and spurred nearby development. The Eaton Centre was built two blocks away, on the east side of Bay, in the late ’70s.
While Focus opened upstairs at 14 Hagerman as an unlicensed, all-ages dance club near the close of 1986, the site had already been a social hub. As Hagerman Hall, it had hosted community dances (including those of pioneering gay organization Community Homophile Association of Toronto, a.k.a. CHAT, in the very early ’70s) and a karate club; the space was known as Club Kongos in the early/mid ’80s.
Club Focus owner Warren Webley was already well known by Toronto’s music-loving youth for his Sunshine Sound enterprise. Webley and family provided sound gear for school and community dances, while the Sunshine Sound Crew of DJs—including JC, Tony Duncan and Brother A.J.—could often be found behind the decks.
Despite his club’s spitting-distance proximity to Nathan Phillip Squares, Webley erected massive walls of sound in Focus and gave Toronto’s teens a place to soak up new experiences on weekends. Once they made it past security, through the long line and up the stairs (where they paid a $5-7 cover to Webley’s wife), hundreds of kids danced late into the night on a sizable, dimly lit checkered floor. There was also a raised stage by the mirrored back wall, a lounge area with video games and a screen on which hockey games and skateboard videos were projected. Bars of neon illuminated the slightly elevated DJ booth. The most popular drink at the concession stand, by far, was Sarasoda, a carbonated cooler that contained 0.5% alcohol, which made it cool among the kids.
Why it was important: Club Focus was a teenage epicentre, complete with all of the energy and drama one might expect, when you consider the many subcultures gathered. (And given that most teens at the time didn’t carry cameras around at all hours, no photos of the club could be sourced for this article.) Unlike other unlicensed—and, by definition—all-ages clubs that had come before, like Twilight Zone and Voodoo, Focus drew a high-school crowd generally aged 14-18. It was also a heavily inner-city scene, as suburbs like Mississauga had their own all-ages hotspots. Only RPM’s all-ages Sundays offered a similar downtown experience for young dancers.
“Because of its location near the Eaton Centre, and the city’s central skateboarding site at the time—Trinity Square, behind the Eaton Centre—Club Focus was an instantly popular skater hangout,” recalls Hal Wong, a Focus regular now known as DJ Hali of the Box of Kittens crew. “The club was unkempt and a bit divey; it was sort of like a dark, grimy, unsupervised high-school dance, complete with the occasional slow song, like ‘Somebody’ by Depeche Mode. And it was frequented by two main types of people: preps and skaters, and later on by mods also.”
Wong, a serious skater kid who began attending Focus in the spring of 1987 at age 16, describes some of the fashion staples on the new-wave nights he went to: skater tees and shorts, rugby and polo shirts, tightly tapered workpants, Vuarnet sunglasses, and Swatch watches, with a whole lot of Polo cologne in the air. It was racially mixed, but largely middle-class. Depending on the night you went, Focus was packed with mods, rude boys and skinheads, too.
Music was the main draw. In the beginning, Club Focus was the musical domain of Sunshine Sound Crew’s Tony Duncan who, by then, had formed his own KAOS crew with young DJs Jamie Delaney and Steve Webster. The trio played everything from The Beatles, Stones, and Kinks to Beastie Boys, Run-DMC and new wave faves like Depeche Mode, New Order, The Smiths and The Cure. Fridays initially featured heavier doses of reggae and ska, attracting the rude boys and skins, while Saturdays’ new wave emphasis appealed to the skaters and preps with floppy hair.
Warren Webley’s son Devon later became a Focus star DJ. In his late teens, Devon came up playing school dances and then DJed Fridays at St. Joseph Street all-ages Club Z, which his father had bought from Charles Khabouth in 1987. Devon then moved to Fridays at Focus; by 1988, he mixed the music both nights, blending new wave, reggae, ska, hip-hop and house.
“New wave was kicking at the time,” recalls Devon Webley. “The shocking surprise for a lot of people was that it was a black guy knowing and playing the alternative music, not to mention blending it at the same time. I also had a lot of house music and mixed that in.”
As Webley added seminal house tracks like “Work it 2 the Bone” and “House Nation” to his blends, the crowds grew even larger and people stayed later into the night.
“The music that was played at Focus, it was the happening sounds of the time,” says Webley. “Whether it was house or new wave or ska, the beat had to be there. And the sound system was the big thing. Whatever music was played, that bass was coming through your body. You might hear some of the same music at other places, but it wasn’t the same experience.
“Also, I have to say, that if you couldn’t dance and came to Focus, you knew how to dance after that.”
Focus attracted a deeply loyal crowd of regulars, many of whom attended every weekend for months or even years.
Paul Seguro was a DJ who Warren Webley recruited from intimate, Bloor-and-Ossington all-ages spot, Blondie’s. He was already a Focus fan and attendee, so he was thrilled to take over Fridays in ’88, when Devon Webley moved back to Club Z for those nights. Seguro also mixed the likes of The English Beat and The Specials with reggae, house and new wave.
“It was all about the music,” emphasizes Seguro, “played on a great soundsystem in a good downtown space. Some nights, I’d guess there were 500 people packed in there like sardines. The floor would bounce! In the summer, Warren would turn on a big wall fan. It being a sauna in there on a summer’s night, the air outside was actually cooler, so people would rush in front of that fan to cool off.”
Many of the young people who sweated it out on the Focus floor would, like Hal Wong, become deeply involved in underground dance music and nightlife. Focus was a breeding ground for future generations of DJs, promoters and venue owners.
Matt Casselman a.k.a. DJ Matt C, later a co-owner of Industry nightclub, was one of them. As a 13-year-old from Scarborough, he told his parents he was working his bus-boy job at the Royal Canadian Legion while often heading instead to Focus and Club Z.
Some of the friends he rolled with included Wayne McNaught (a.k.a. DJ Wayne Wonder), Chris Sherwood (later co-owner of The Adelaide Street Pub), Roger Moore (now an actor—no, not that one) and scenester Makepeace Charles, who became a surgeon.
“Focus was very cool; the kids were really, really trendy,” Casselman gushes. “We were young and full of testosterone, so trying to pick up girls was a main attraction, too. There was a lot of grinding going on. It was a very sexually charged club.
“Also, Devon Webley was an amazing DJ; he had a massive influence on my DJ style,” adds Casselman, who started playing dances at age 13. “Devon and Warren used to go to New York to buy records, so he had a lot of music that most people didn’t. I remember when Inner City’s “Big Fun” came out in ‘88, that New Year’s Eve, it was the first song Devon played at midnight, and it tore the place apart.
“Another thing I really remember about Focus is that if the crowd didn’t like a song that was being played, they would sit down on the floor cross-legged,” Casselman chuckles. “That was a trendy thing to do.”
Who else played/worked there: Although others, including CFNY hosts like Skot Turner, would grace the Club Focus DJ booth on occasion, the men mentioned above were the club’s main musical draws, along with MCs including Brother Different and Butch Lee.
But at Focus, the bouncers also played a key role. Walking hip-hop encyclopedia Johnbronski worked there for a stretch. A security guy named Garth is mentioned repeatedly, remembered for his ability to hold the masses behind an established, but invisible, line on the sidewalk. Apparently a cousin of famous Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, Garth was also known to select those who would get in on the busiest of nights.
It was crucial that Focus’ doormen could control the teenage masses.
“Focus was not always good times and alcohol-free bubbly drinks,” explains Hal Wong. “In the late ’80s, there was still a lot of lawlessness and crime in the downtown core. Stories of muggings, or being rolled, by skinheads simply for wearing Doc Marten shoes were very common. So were street fights.”
In fact, Wong tells me of a massive, hour-long street brawl between skinheads and skaters that occurred in front of Focus in October of 1987. Cops barricaded the area, but allowed the fight to continue as they threw individuals into police vans. Tensions between skaters and skins remained high, and Focus was prime turf, especially as members of infamous Toronto street gang The Untouchables were also known to frequent the club.
“Focus was the epicentre of all that gang shit at the time,” says Marc Kyriacou, a former bouncer who worked at the top of Focus’ stairs for two years. “We had our fair share of going home with bumps and bruises.”
Now an architect, designer and part of the Uniq Entertainment Group that owns venues including Cobra, Brant House, Maro, The Ballroom and Jacob’s Steakhouse (the latter of which is housed where Roxy Blu once was, Kyriacou tells a chilling tale.
“I remember the first night we got a metal detector,” he begins. “At Focus, once people entered the downstairs door, they were stuck on that staircase until they came up. If you went back outside, you had to go back to the end of the line.
“At the end of that night, when we walked down the staircase, we must have found a hundred knives, sticks and stuff. People hadn’t known about the detector so they pulled stuff out of their pocket and dropped it the ground. We were tripping over things.”
That said, despite its sometimes-violent history, Focus remains close to the hearts of many.
“Focus will always be important to me,” says Wong. “It was the first actual nightclub I experienced, and also the first place I discovered a lot of seminal underground dance music. Hearing songs like ‘Jack Your Body,’ ‘This Brutal House‘ and ‘House Nation’ will forever remind me of those early days. So Club Focus, with warts and all, is like that first sweet love of mine.”
“I can remember every inch of that club to this day,” says Seguro, who now builds homes and, for the purpose of this article, drafted the floor plan below from memory. “It was probably one of the best years of my life. If I could time travel, I would go to a Saturday night at Hagerman. It was home.”
What happened to it: By most accounts, Club Focus closed on Hagerman as its lease expired and the City of Toronto reclaimed the property for development. 14 Hagerman was demolished and a private parking lot currently stands in its place.
As mentioned, Warren Webley also owned Club Z at 11A St. Joseph Street. There was a stabbing there in 1989, and Webley briefly closed the location as a result of the murder.
It then re-opened as the new home of Club Focus, with DJs including Paul Seguro, Devon Webley and younger brother Michael Webley. This closed after less than two years, and the Webleys moved Club Focus to Oakwood and Vaughan, into a spot known as The Cave. Even with a roller rink upstairs and banquet hall downstairs, it never caught on.
Warren Webley then opened a Sunshine Sound and Lighting shop at Christie and St. Clair. Today, there are locations on Eglinton West and in Scarborough, with the east-end location run by Michael Webley.
Devon stepped away from DJing and acted as executive producer for a few releases on Focus Records, including X’onia’s “By The Way.” Today, he’s a happy family man and TTC bus driver.
Thank you to all who contributed research to this piece, also including Adina Shore, Jp Navidad, Johnbronski, Michael Webley. Thanks also to those who searched for Focus photos, flyers or memorabilia. Please let us know if you have photos!
Does anyone know Pastor’s contact info? I have tried to find him no luck – would love to connect
[…] Magazine. As he reported on the scene at the Dub Club – aside from some nights at 14 Hagerman Street, maybe Toronto’s first hip-hop venue – Hollett also had the task of explaining what rapping […]
Wow, thanks for all the great memories this article brings back. I was definitely one of the regulars in my innocent years. Loved everything about Focus from the best music to the atmosphere to the variety of people who seemed to vibe together with ease. I can still picture myself standing on the second floor at the front by the window writing with my fingers on the steam to my friends outside in the line up. Best times EVER! You knew it was reaching closing time when Prince’s “Adore you” came on…lol
Sorry for the confusion….the correct email is email@example.com….not firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks!
Every weekend 86-89 10 or so of us would be at Focus. Garth would let us bypass the line and we would rock the house. Might have a few photos somewhere. Awesome teenage memories, amazing music and atmospere. Thanks for this.
meeting noogie one night nailing it after a major skate session with the regulars. taking back the fear of ‘skinheads’ with one rush forward and take the skinhead boots and piss in them for once. skinhead were a big problem and with help of the untouchables we showed them who is boss. boards and trucks across many bomber jackets and bald heads. they ran away never to screw with the sk8 dudes again. much love to the original trinity crew. 50/50 grinds all day.
I will always remember my twin izabell and first love Johnny Lewis. I met at focus. Who can forget the “untouchables”. We were united, young and carefree.
This is where it started for me as a 15 year old. A love of House and the dark clubs that played this music. Move Your Body, Let’s Get Brutal, House Nation, Break For Love, Can You Party, Salsa House…great tunes and great times. So many fantastic memories and the start of a lifelong love of electronic music. Thanks for these articles, Denise!
miqui – you remember Kadafi, Chuck, Gonzo, Phi, Evan – let me know if there’s ever a reunion. The UTs were most definitely not skaters.
@Mike Doyle Some were some were not. I probably wont see a reunion. I have terminal cancer. Marc Passed away a couple years ago. I never see most of those guys. It was like they all dropped off a cliff when they got married and had kids. That is life. You grow up and move on.
Great article and brings lots of memories I recall Watching Mentronix and Expose at Club Z Don’t forget Bedrock twilight zone I remember dancing in big crowds when sunshine crew use to play and we would perform(Wild Style) Masonic Temple another great place were the sunshine crew would play those were great old time and all the caravana jams!!!!
All comments in the string below have been republished from their original appearance on The Grid website. We’re including the readers’ comments as they add to these Then & Now stories. We look forward to reading new comments here as well.
Man I got goose bumps reading that article! So many memories came rushing back. I would attend a reunion if one were ever to happen. 6:15 pm on October 15, 2014
Untouchables and Scarborough? huh? The guys (and girls) I hung out with were not from Scarborough – like C. Sampson were from right down town. Only one person who mentions Nuggie might have know them as well. 3:00 pm on May 29, 2014
I seem to recall the untouchables were mostly guys from Northern SS, at least at the beginning. 10:18 pm on September 21, 2014
The guys from northern were the socias and the rat pack. UT were downtown and beacher kids. 11:14 pm on September 23, 2014
drinking miller king cans on the way down, gav, norn derek,carl..francis libermn! 11:59 pm on February 11, 2014
Great article! I remember spending almost every weekend at Focus! I also remember “Big Fun” ringing in the new year! Can’t tell you how much I loved Focus, subway rides downtown from Scarborough, and how much I hated missing the last bus from Kennedy. Thanks for the dance down memory lane 6:12 am on February 7, 2014
Truly a blast from the past ☺️ 8:57 pm on February 6, 2014
great article…great memories…this was the first club I ever went to, being in grade 10 and just starting high school…”In the beginning, there was Jack, and Jack had a groove” and then the bassline kicked in…totally blew my mind…never heard anything like it before…does anyone remember “The A Club” on Sheppard Ave. West, between Dufferin and Keele? 10:31 am on February 6, 2014
I totally remember The A Club and surprised it wasn’t mentioned in this article. Club Focus was my first introduction to house music and underground clubbing. This brings back a lot of awesome memories. So glad they wrote this piece. 4:06 pm on February 6, 2014
Great times had by all at Club Focus and The A Club! Wow, so many memories, glad someone shared this article with me….I just downloaded Can You Feel It into my iPod last week, nostalgic! 6:27 pm on March 10, 2014
Just found these amazing articles about club life from the 80′s. A few discrepancies but we all tend to romanticize the past. Especilly you Harold W. Trinity and Focus seemed to go hand in hand and I lived and breathed skating and dancin’ all night, as well as the occasional tilt with the dt skins. To all those on Team Whutever and later Team Mode I hope all is well. Shout out to Brad if that’s you from the beaches area. Who of us can forget The Warriors being played constantly on the tube. No wonder we got into it once and awhile. Anyone remember when the skins had Kerrick and Shane outside when they came for the Socias. Their faces were priceless. ￼ 11:22 pm on January 28, 2014
You got some stuff correct but as far as The Untouchables goes they were formed in 1985 in Scarborough. They travelled to the most poplar Clubs. The were NOT skaters they were NOT skin heads so you need to correct your info! As for majority of the clubs for example like Twilight Zone you obiviously didn’t look too hard for resources on photos, videos or etc. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0xr7wXDcw8 (Twilight Zone) 7:01 pm on December 29, 2013
The First Ska Fan in Canada-1979
I remember those pathetic losers who called themselves The Untouchables: Cowards who went around ganging up on innocent people. At King subway station, about 25 of them confronted me because I had Docs on at King Station in 1988. And they wanted my and my friend’s coats. Let’s just say they got nothing from us. 12:42 pm on May 2, 2014
Before most were the untouchables, they were a bunch of scared kids afraid of their own shadows. Most ran at the sound of DM’s because they thought skins were coming. A few stand up guys would fight one on one, but most jumped in after the fact. I remember one guy bragging after stabbing a guy in the leg after the guy had been jumped by a bunch of them. Sucker punch kings. Them and the socias and rat pack. 11:23 am on June 17, 2014
No one mentioned the “gold card” If u had a gold card, u didnt have to stand in line, and only pay half price. LOVED FOCUS! Great memories 4:43 pm on November 9, 2013
I love, love, LOVE….these articles !!! Great accounts of the music scene of this city !! I was reading this one on Club Focus and saw that you were not correct with something. The part about Carl Allen being a part of the Sunshine Crew. For the record, Carl Allen was never ever a part of the Sunshine Crew. He may have ‘played’ on the system on a couple of time, but Carl Allen was never a part of the Sunshine crew. Just ask Mr. Warren Webley (the owner of the Sunshine Sound). 11:28 pm on May 30, 2013
dont get me wrong, i think its a great article, it brought me back big time, i just dont like how you made this fantasy story of the untouchables being formed by a bunch of skaters, nothing against skaters, in fact in the end a lot of the guys were the skaters that hung out at trinity, they just seemed to follow us over to focus, lol. the original untouchables were a bunch of hard ass motha’s guys that had been to hell and back as kids, guys that would steel the teeth out of your grandmother for a nickle, we were fed up with being shit on by society so we all baned together to do something about it, knowone could “touch” us as long as we stuck together. if someone looked at us the wrong way they got the beeting of their life, very wrong, and im not bragging about my behaviour, very misguided youth we were. but we had lots of good times to, to all the guys who ratted us out for the polo warehouse job, go fuck yourselves, lol. 11:18 pm on May 25, 2013
oh wow that was metro pose bro .. not us 3:37 pm on September 24, 2013
If you really were an untouchable I know someone at CBC that would really like to talk to you… 3:26 pm on October 11, 2013
First Ska Fan in Canada-1979
See my email up above: The Untouchables were a bunch of serious losers and cowards. 12:53 pm on May 2, 2014
Denise you need to take some time and find Gary AKA Brother Diffrent and the real person behind the success of Club Focus , DJ TONEY D . This guy was a genius . He created TWO successful DJ groups . KAOS consisted of TONEY D JAMIE DELANEY and STEVE WEBSTER . Devon Webbley learned from Toney , Saturday was the night to go to Focus . Packed house with KAOS playing the music Toney put us on another planet with no drugs . Ask Mike Yak , Derick , Tobbey read and all of us from Unionville and Markham . The guy could play . A mini RPM thats what Toney D and KAOS created . Fridays it started with Ska music . You need to find find Toney and get the facts . Some of the best times for all of us . DJ Toney D and KAOS would have to spin if there is to be a reunion . . 10:51 am on August 8, 2012
Truth 1:24 pm on September 20, 2012
not the way i remembered the untouchables forming, considering i was one of the first members in after they formed the gang, i might be able to fill you in on how it all went down, great article on focus though. perhaps you should talk to some of the original members to get the real story. 10:56 pm on August 6, 2012
went to Focus and Club Z before the house movement took momentum (1985) Outisde of the cavernous RPM, these were the true alternative underage clubs. Went here to listen to The Smiths, Cure, Bauhaus, Siouxsie, Jam, Specials. Remember the skaters hanging out and everyone dropping before going on. Good times. Soon after, came the house music with underground hits like male stripper in a go-go bar and so on. This started my road to DJing for the next 20 years. thank you Focus and Club Z. 2:31 pm on June 20, 2012
Wow, flashbacks. This was my teenage years and made me who I am today. Jamie W, always in my heart. Much love to those I once knew. 11:30 pm on June 11, 2012
Two others no one mentioned…wonder why? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcnqDuRtIZE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOPCdQcsYao 10:14 pm on March 7, 2012
OK, one more: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0HsjYtdAKM 10:20 pm on March 7, 2012
Good call James! Well then I guess we’d better add this to the list: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Px9VWsSZYP0 Hali, are you writing all of these down for the reunion set list? 6:07 pm on March 8, 2012
Great article Denise! Can’t believe those memories are from over 20 years ago. Makes me want to dust off my “C Dix-Sept” jeans and smiley t-shirt. : ) A reunion should happen and when it does I want to see a guy wearing denim overalls and a polka dot long sleeve shirt – you know who you are. You mentioned RPM’s all ages Sunday and perhaps another column should be devoted to that night. You would find the same crowd but with a slightly different vibe and a…hot buffet??? As a companion to Hali’s excellent post, here’s a list of songs that will forever burned into my brain from those nights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hsOSC6RVhk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axJpBlxW6n0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOT322nAt2A http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVyanMJYYpA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzQbRxWqp6k http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aXGJZmOxBM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkfzXq0tA3c http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdXVWLTTa_s http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7y9yChV478&feature=fvsr http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AlH2oYedfk 3:56 pm on March 7, 2012
RPM on Sunday with the roast beef and noodles definitely deserves a mention, as does Empire in the old St. Charles Tavern on Yonge st. 10:22 pm on March 7, 2012
Thanks for sharing Matt. These bring me back! There’s another Focus staple I just remembered.. Go see the doctor!! hah http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SH5a-deHquc 8:54 am on March 8, 2012
Ah Denise, thank you for that walk down memory lane. I love seeing the floor plan. Brings back such memories of being swept along with the crowd, smiling at the pretty girls. And the comments! so many familiar names. Old friends, old aquaintances. ‘Sup DJ AMC, Jamie D, Matt C, et all. I went into focus a child, I emerged a house head. 10:38 pm on March 6, 2012
Sarasota coolers, dancing on the stage, smoking like a chimney, running into the odd DeGrassi kid (and feeling slightly smug and superior for it), cutting my hair into a bob and wearing a short skirt and a skinny tie (total poseur!!)… It was good to be 15 in the late 80s… And, Jamie and Marc, there is no way you would remember me, but I remember you both! Great times! I’m very grateful for the memories! 6:48 pm on March 6, 2012
Great piece. Just seeing “Nuts & Bolts” brings back great memories of good times. Thanks. 6:44 pm on March 6, 2012
I seem to remember that dance floor flexing mighty hard some nights…it’s a wonder it didn’t cave in. 4:59 pm on March 6, 2012
Andrew McConnachie (DJ AMC)
Whoa! Blast from the past! Yup we was there every weekend, rain or snow! Some freezing nights waiting in that line ￼ Shout out to all my crew, Pat C, Edwin L, Noel N, Lee R, Ivy L, Sherri A, Cherry and all the others I’ve forgotten! Ice Cream Boys! Matt C! What’s up? Remember that house party we did for Greg H? What! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0xr7wXDcw8 3:59 pm on March 6, 2012
Can’t forget the beef patties at the snack bar! 3:39 pm on March 6, 2012
I was a couple years to young for Focus and by ’91 there were not as many all-ages clubs as there were hall parties and then “raves”. I definitely remember skinheads rolling kids for Docs. I always wondered why the older skaters in my crew were hip hop dj’s but liked Depeche Mode and all that new wave stuff – I had no idea that was skate music in the mid eighties. I bought my 12′s and mixer at Sunshine on St Clair – good guys! 3:38 pm on March 6, 2012
Great Article! Really takes you back… So many great times and so many great memories. Remembering all the boys… Garth, Marc, Webster, Carlos, Devon, Tony, Carl… and, so many others my brain has forgotten, but my heart never will. Thanks so much for sharing and keeping the memories alive! Oh, and thank you, Sunshine. 1:14 pm on March 6, 2012
Amazing article….Warren, The Untouchables, Manny….all of it brings me right back to my days of being a Focus regular! Thanks for the flashback! 12:55 pm on March 6, 2012
Who could forget Manny! 5:06 pm on August 24, 2012
Great article Denise! 10:14 am on March 6, 2012
I still have my Gold Card as-well lol !!! 8:19 am on March 6, 2012
Sorry for the mis-spelling of Ji-Ho’s name everyone !! 3:51 am on March 6, 2012
Ji-Ho! I still think of him! Great skater, great guy! 3:34 pm on August 24, 2012
Hey Kyla, Just wondering if your the same girl I used to know from Trinity. I think you had a brother who hung around the UT’s. Colin 5:35 pm on February 13, 2014
I will always miss those days !! Hats off to Devon for spinning the best house traks and thanks for this article Denise . All the faces and the front hall all U.T.s all the time priceless . R.I.P to Geo and Steve Shakes you will always be missed ONE LOVE PEOPLE !! 7:47 pm on March 5, 2012
I actually pulled out the old newspaper article about Ji-Ho’s death when going through all this stuff too. RIP Ji-Ho! 8:59 pm on March 5, 2012
Great article Denise. This brings back some memories: Pre-drinking orange Crush and vodka in Trinity Square watching Harold try and ollie over a garbage can… To quote Bomb the Bass “The names have been changed to protect the innocent” Funny, no mention of how E changed the scene. Can U Feeeeeeel it? 5:10 pm on March 5, 2012
Holy shit! haha Whats going on Jimmy? A very long time man. WE NEED A REUNION ! Ill talk to Peter Taxidis and see if we cant make this happen. 5:25 pm on March 5, 2012
hahah!! sup Jimmy. Weird though. There was no E at Focus. That didn’t hit Toronto until the 90s. 9:01 pm on March 5, 2012
Wow. Just WOW ! someone needs to definitely have a reunion. I vote for doing it at Brant house. I have visions of Manny macking every girl within 20 feet of him. Kadafi, Nuggie and all the other guys from BoH and The Untouchables. I call glory days but the only glory was the music. All the scraps i can do without remembering ￼ 1:12 am on March 5, 2012
Those were the days! Those Focus weekends were precious! Nice article. What’s up Jamie & Dana, we were so young! I totally remember seeing Marc at the door! 12:48 am on March 5, 2012
Hey Craig! I knew I would find you here! Some of my earliest and fondest memories are of Focus. It set me on a path of music appreciation for life. A big hello going out to the “Henry Posse,” you know who you are. Jen AKA Big Jen 11:55 pm on March 8, 2012
Oh who is gonna be the first to say it ………………. we need to do a Focus Reunion !!! LOL Jamie and i can drag the earthquakes in just like old dayz and make sure it is wheel chair accessable for all us old Geezers !! 4:20 pm on March 3, 2012
Best times of our lives. Every weekend for a couple years, except summers. Could not remember any names of dj’s or bouncers…but I do remember my friends, all from forest hill, mixing it up with the skinheads, and the untouchables. Great music, great dancing, buying the booze in line and smuggling it in. Great article. 11:22 am on March 3, 2012
Some other seminal House staples from Club Focus!! http://youtu.be/r8SKqNF3A4Q http://youtu.be/3Y8w2W1uy2A http://youtu.be/cZj9oQ-5aaY http://youtu.be/998P6HEzCdI http://youtu.be/rdtnMAXCB7A http://youtu.be/QeYYG_2kYEs http://youtu.be/TB54dZkzZOY http://youtu.be/AFGhQSiGHWM http://youtu.be/lkqidtHktME http://youtu.be/fgl70qZDXBk http://youtu.be/ivr57dcs9-E http://youtu.be/-H8EkSWTf2A http://youtu.be/8lEFLe9ii24 http://youtu.be/cNvf0zlwe7k http://youtu.be/LOLE1YE_oFQ 7:40 pm on March 2, 2012
Wow! What a treat, not only to read the article, but to read the comments. Sometimes it feels like no one else can relate to the awesome times that were had there, so reading the names in the article and seeing the comments feels cool. Those were some sweet times, and I am just happy I survived it all. Thanks for the article, thanks Garth for letting me and my friends skip the line up, and thanks Focus for some of the best times of my youth. Oh, and thanks Tony, for letting me sleep on the bench until the sun came up! 6:47 pm on March 2, 2012
Which Derek is this? 3:52 pm on March 2, 2012
Yo James thenz was tha dayz huh !! LOL 4:17 pm on March 3, 2012
Close but no cigar…. 12:11 am on March 2, 2012
Meh!! After a re-read I call BS on this whole article… Looking at that flyer, not one person played in the club… Get yer facts straight, Carl Allen never set foot in Hagerman Street. Deko playing on a Sunshine Set, never!! that freak, Warren wouldn’t let him in the club… Should I continue? Where are the shout outs to Brother Different, Carl W and Lionel R.I.P. Brother brother?? Anywho I know what really went down and a lot of this didn’t…. 12:24 am on March 2, 2012
Hey Derek, I’m not sure you actually read the piece. Nowhere in there do I say that Carl Allen played at Focus or that Deko played as part of a Sunshine event. The flyer that you’re referring to isn’t from a Club Focus event and doesn’t pretend to be – it was included to give a broader sense of the all-ages events and some of the DJs of the time. Sunshine isn’t even listed on the flyer. The article also wasn’t about Sunshine Sound Crew so that’s why no shouts to Brother Different and every person who was connected to that crew. I did talk with JC, of Sunshine Sound about Hagerman though, and he told me that he had never played at Focus. He did, however, share a story about 14 Hagerman before it became Focus, while it was still Kongos. From JC: “Kongos was sold after an event that the Sunshine Crew (owned by Warren Webley with myself and Tony Duncan as his DJs) had planned made the pavement in front of the club break open due to a broken water pipe caused by the sound system that we had brought in the club.” So… overlapping, but different histories. I suggest having a read before you “call BS.” Thanks! 9:20 am on March 2, 2012
Great times!!! So many memories of those Saturday nights. The crowed, the music, the sound systems. Seeing Garth’s face at the door and Mark upstairs. Devon put it best “after going to Focus you knew how to dance”!!! Some of the greatest times of my life!!! 7:53 pm on March 1, 2012
This brings back so many fantastic memorize of both Focus and Club Z 1:10 pm on March 1, 2012
Great article! What a blast from the past. 1:00 pm on March 1, 2012
pretty much spent as many weekends as possible from spring 1987 until the last night. The epic Focus Finale in May 1989. Gold Cards, Garth, the Sarasota, the speakers, the checker dance floor, the fan in the summer, the music the music the music. from the new wave to the classic house to the ska. what a place. 12:22 pm on March 1, 2012
Jay is that you? If it is, long time bro! I hope all is well. 1:02 pm on March 1, 2012
and to think that you went another one of those preppy brother’s not to mention a pleasure god, damm only if you knew how to skate, 4:07 pm on March 23, 2012
Thank you Denise for another great article on an Club Focus which was an extremely fun part of my youth! To this day, Carl Allen is one of my favourite Toronto DJ’s of all times! 12:15 pm on March 1, 2012
I remember watching the Islanders-Capitals 4 overtime game while listening to some of the best House in the City. 10:46 am on March 1, 2012
Best nights of my teenage life. Was there every Friday and Saturday. Came down from North York every weekend from ’87 to ’89. My dad used to pick me up at midhight outside the club blaring House music from his car, just so I didn’t seem uncool. xox Focus and xox Dad 10:52 pm on February 29, 2012
Hi Dana! Ha this is great, mee too! I used to sneak out of the house or tell my parents I was staying over at Jacob Dismans. Thanks for the link David Taylor ￼ 10:48 am on March 1, 2012
Still have my ‘Gold Card’ ￼ 10:25 pm on February 29, 2012
Just wanted to say what a great job Denise Benson has been doing on these Then & Now pieces. One of the highlights of The Grid for me personally – really enjoy taking a trip into these slices of the city’s history. Cheers. 4:16 pm on February 29, 2012
Great great article, walk down the clearest memories/ 7:16 pm on February 29, 2012
This is pretty on point. I pretty much ran away from home to be in this party as much as possible. Shout out to Team Poser, Team Whutever, the rest of my Team HICK, all the Adam Beck, Duke of Connaught/Beaches crew. Top mention to my P9 crew, coffin runs, catamarans, then that Police Academy shit wow.. Big up Cal Pro, Hogtown crew, Trinity Square crew, we spent a ton of time there. That skate demo at RPM. Lino, Marcel, Derek, Carlos and everyone that let me crash for days at your spot back then. The Terrace also deserves mention. acquiring 3 or 4 swatches for the night. Those skate contests at that roller rink. Pastors ramp building skills. Rick Davis. Those CFNY dances at Ontario Place. Sneaking in side door to Beastie Boys at RPM. My late teen years in TO are still some of the best, low security, urban skate and party times I’ve ever had. Despite multiple encounters with UTs and just super angry people in general not worthy of mention. Thanks for the flashback!
Wow – what I great blast from the past. Does anyone know Pastor’s contact info? I have tried to find him no luck – would love to connect