Browsing Tag


2000s, 2010s, After-hours, Breaks, Electronic, House, Techno

Then & Now: Footwork

December 9, 2014

Click through the photo gallery for a look at some of the many DJs who graced Footwork’s booth.


Article originally published February 11, 2014 by The Grid online (

In the face of King West’s rampant condo-ization and nightclub-ificaiton, this beloved, recently shuttered basement venue held it down for underground sounds—and continues to do so at a newly opened space in the Annex.


Club: Footwork, 425 Adelaide W.

Years in operation: 2005-2013

History: The story of one of this city’s most beloved, internationally recognized house and techno clubs begins with the unlikely pairing of two men raised on rock.

Hamilton native Joel Smye was a long-haired fan of bands like Pearl Jam and Rage Against the Machine until his parents sent him to Switzerland to complete high school. While there, he also got an education in rave. By 1997, he hit up massive Toronto parties each weekend, and taught himself to DJ. As Baby Joel, he would become known for his love of funky Chicago house.

Originally from Ottawa, Stephan Philion moved to Toronto 11 years ago, already experienced in the hospitality industry, and in throwing house parties, which were largely a means to accumulate sound and lighting gear. He had a lean toward Britpop and grunge until party promoter and friend Gairy Brown took Philion to Fly Nightclub, where he fell for dance music.

Smye and Philion met in the early 2000s, while waiters at Brassai. The two talked music. Philion got to hear Smye DJ, loved his take on house, and invited the DJ to check a club sound system that was just gathering dust at the time.

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2000s, Breaks, Electronic, Hip-Hop, House, Rave, Techno

Then & Now: Element Bar

September 24, 2014
Ann as DJ Valentines

AnnMarie McCullough a.k.a. DJ Amtrak at Element. Photo courtesy of her.


Article originally published April 26, 2012 by The Grid online (

As Clubland boomed at the turn of the millennium, this beloved Queen West space provided a big-room experience in an intimate, underground atmosphere—but it ultimately became a victim of its own success.


Club: Element Bar, 553 Queen W.

Years in operation: 1999-2004

History: In the late 1990s, Toronto’s rave and house music scenes were booming. Raves attracted audiences of multiple thousands while even licensed clubs catering to underground tastes tended to hold at least 800. The Entertainment District was littered with venues—most of them commercial and unadventurous—while the College and Ossington strips had not yet developed into hotspots for small to mid-sized venues.

In this environment, a group of friends rented a decidedly intimate space on Queen, between Spadina and Bathurst, that had been home to popular pool hall Behind the Eight Ball and, briefly, 24/7 Billiards. The address was also known for after-hours parties on its top floor, dubbed Zodiac.

Tony Mutch, Marcus Boekelman, and their silent partner Patrik Xuereb all met in high school. By their late 20s, Boekelman and Mutch had both produced parties, with Boekelman having experienced Ibiza and London and promoted events in Toronto featuring electronic dance-music stars like Paul Oakenfold.

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