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Davy Love

1990s, Breaks, Disco, Downtempo, Drum 'n' Bass, Dub, Electronic, Funk, Hip-Hop, House, Live Music, Rave, Reggae, Rock, Techno

Then & Now: We’ave

December 8, 2014
Weave mural

We’ave wall mural. Photo by Merri Schwartz, courtesy of Dan Snaith.


Article originally published December 20, 2013 by The Grid online (

In the late 1990s, this quirky three-storey Dundas West venue provided a homebase for emergent female DJs and was a hotbed for techno, drum ‘n’ bass and all kinds of experimentation. It also helped launch the careers of Caribou, Peaches, and future Azari & III member Christian Newhook.


Club: We’ave, 330 Dundas St. W.

Years in operation: 1997–2000

History: There is a row of heritage properties along Dundas West, between McCaul and Beverley Streets and directly opposite the Art Gallery of Ontario, that tend to catch the eye. Built in the late 19th century as homes, the properties at 312–356 Dundas West gained heritage status in 1973, and now host a mix of galleries, cafés, and other businesses.

The building at number 330 stands out for its shape, colour, and newness. An infill property that sits snugly between number 326 (the Howard Bryant House) and 334 (the Richard Chadd House), 330 is the relatively modern two-and-a-half-storey commercial building that replaced one of the original detached houses. It’s a quirky build, but not entirely out of place with OCAD University right around the corner.

The address opened as We’ave, an arts and music complex, in March of 1997. Its original general manager, Sherri Ranger, had envisioned the venue as an artists’ co-op.

“We’ave stood for ‘We Have,’ which was Sherri’s concept,” explains musician and DJ Barbi Castelvi, hired in April ’97 as its live-music booker and publicist.

“They were having some parties, but there was no liquor licence or restaurant yet,” Castelvi explains in an email interview. “It was literally a drop-in artist co-op. [Experimental jazz ensemble] GUH already had a residency; they were Sherri’s friends. There were also artist workshops, curated by Sherri.”

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1990s, Alternative, Blues, Hip-Hop, Indie Rock, Live Music, Punk, Reggae, Rock, Soul

Then & Now: The El Mocambo, 1989 – 2001

October 7, 2014

Dan Burke under the Neon Palm, circa 2001. Photo: Peter Power / Toronto Star.


Article originally published August 10, 2012 by The Grid online (

The legendary Spadina venue has just been sold for a reported $3 million, with its new owners promising to return the club to its late-‘70s glory days. But in this edition of her nightlife-history series, Denise Benson looks back at the people and parties that kept this Toronto landmark alive during its leanest years.


Club: The El Mocambo Tavern, 464 Spadina Ave.

Years in operation: 1946-present. Here, I focus specifically on the era spanning 1989-2001.

History: Arguably Toronto’s most illustrious live music venue, Spadina’s historic El Mocambo Tavern has meant many things to many people over the past 66 years: soul and blues hub, revered rock and roots venue, queer-punk hotbed. The building itself is said to date back to 1850, and to have acted as a haven for escaped slaves in a part of the city that was long home to a sizable African-Canadian community.

The El Mocambo, complete with infamous palm-tree sign, opened in the 1940s as a two-floor live music venue, and was granted one of Toronto’s earliest liquor licences. While it’s never been fancy, the El Mo boasts an incredible rock, soul, jazz, and blues pedigree. Charles Mingus, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Guess Who, Elvis Costello, Lou Reed, U2, Blondie, and The Ramones all played there, as did a certain British band that performed two nights under the pseudonym of The Cockroaches.

“The Rolling Stones’ shows in 1977 put The El Mocambo on the ‘world stage,’” says longtime local music booker Enzo Petrungaro, who co-owned the venue from 1989 to 1992.

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