Browsing Tag

Lee Burridge

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, After-hours, Drum 'n' Bass, Electronic, Funk, Hip-Hop, House, Rave, Techno

Then & Now: System Soundbar

September 24, 2014

The scene at System Soundbar, September 24, 2005. Photo by Ryan Parks.


Article originally published April 12, 2012 by The Grid online (

In the latest edition of her nightlife-history series, Denise Benson revisits the Entertainment District institution that brought underground rave culture to Toronto’s mainstream club crowd at the dawn of the millennium.


Club: System Soundbar, 117 Peter

Years in operation: 1999-2005

History: System Soundbar was an unlikely home for electronic dance music with a decidedly underground bent. Opened smack dab in the middle of the commercial club district, System was owned by Zisi Konstantinou—former owner/operator of successful Adelaide Street spot Limelight—with his partners Spyros Theoharis and Boris Khaimovich. They hired former Limelight employee Orin Bristol as general manager, and the group worked to develop a plan.

“Zisi purchased the building as a property investment, and we were trying to figure out what to do with the basement as it was just being used as storage space,” shares Bristol. “We spoke about doing a nightclub, but thought it would be a hard sell for a mainstream crowd as it was in a basement.

“At the same time, the city was cracking down on raves and there were less and less spots to do parties in. Because of our Wednesday nights at Limelight [with EDM/rave DJs Craig Pettigrew and John E], we had come to know the guys from [promoters] Lifeforce Industries. Between Craig and them, we talked about doing rave-style events in the space.”

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