Limelight dancefloor. Photo by Steven Lungley. All rights reserved.
Article originally published July 27, 2012 by The Grid online (thegridto.com).
As the Entertainment District grew more sophisticated in the 1990s, this proudly shabby and unpretentious nightclub drew crowds by the thousands each week to a sleepy stretch of Adelaide.
BY: DENISE BENSON
Club: Limelight, 250 Adelaide St. W.
Years in operation: 1993-2003
History: Before the Entertainment District became synonymous with dance clubs, the well-worn brick building at 250 Adelaide St. W. was home to businesses including a print shop and Old Favorites Books.
Located near the corner of Duncan, the building was spotted by businessman Zisi Konstantinou, who saw its potential as a club space. Richmond Street east of Spadina was already attracting large weekend crowds in the early 1990s, thanks to venues like Charles Khabouth’s pioneering Stilife and the Ballinger brothers’ hotspot Go-Go, which later became Whiskey Saigon. Adelaide east of Spadina was not yet a dancer’s destination.
Konstantinou’s next smart move was to hire Boris Khaimovich as general manager of his club-to-be. Khaimovich—who’d worked the door and managed at Toronto clubs including The Copa, Boom Boom Room, and Go-Go, brought his vision to the project—and was Limelight’s guiding light for eight of its 10 years.
AnnMarie McCullough a.k.a. DJ Amtrak at Element. Photo courtesy of her.
Article originally published April 26, 2012 by The Grid online (TheGridTO.com).
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.
BY: DENISE BENSON
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.
Photo of Roger Sanchez at Industry in July 1996 courtesy of Gavin Bryan.
Article originally published November 30, 2011 by The Grid online (TheGridTO.com).
In this instalment of Then & Now, Denise Benson looks back at the legendary King West super-club that put Toronto on the international dance-music map, Industry.
BY: DENISE BENSON
Club: Industry nightclub, 901 King West
Years in operation: 1996-2000
Industry tag. Photo by Randy Chow.
History: Industry was a labour of love that grew out of youthful enthusiasm, overlapping friendships and prior club experiences. DJ Mario Jukica (Mario J) was 19 and his promoter friend Gavin “Gerbz” Bryan 24 when they moved from Oakville to downtown Toronto to develop a vision for a nightclub with DJ Matthew Casselman (Matt C) and business-minded clubber Daniel Bellavance. Bryan and Casselman had worked together at RPM (now The Guvernment) and were two of the core forces behind afterhours club BUZZ (now Comfort Zone), where Mario J was also a resident DJ.
After eight short, but impactful months, BUZZ was forced to relocate and out of it grew something much larger. The four men came together to create a thousand-person-capacity venue at King and Strachan, then a rather undeveloped area. Industry’s doors opened on July 5, 1996.