1990s, After-hours, Dance Music, Drum 'n' Bass, Hip-Hop, House, Techno

Then & Now: Industry

September 21, 2014
Roger Sanchez (3rd week of Industry 1996)

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.


Club: Industry nightclub, 901 King West

Years in operation: 1996-2000

Industry tag. Photo by Randy Chow.

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.

Why it was important: Industry embodied the maturation of Toronto’s late-night, underground dance-music movement. It operated during some of the most explosive years for raves in this city and proved to be an ideal home for a more seasoned, diverse, largely post-rave crowd. Above all, Industry’s programming, size and sound quality helped establish this city’s reputation abroad while also convincing Toronto to take itself—and its talent—seriously.

Kenny Glasgow and Mario J work four turntables, summer 1997. Photo courtesy of Gavin Bryan.

Kenny Glasgow and Mario J work four turntables, summer 1997. Photo courtesy of Gavin Bryan.

As DJ/producer Kenny Glasgow—an Industry resident DJ for its entirety and now one-half of Art Department—put it when I spoke to him earlier this year for Resident Advisor, “I think that when Industry opened, Toronto realized, ‘OK, there is an actual scene here,’ enough for us to open a club dedicated and devoted to underground house music and underground dance-music culture. A venue of that size clearly made it something for everybody to enjoy.”

“We wanted to create a club atmosphere that would break all boundaries that mainstream Toronto clubs had,” recalls Gavin Bryan. “We focused on highlighting the best house, techno, drum ‘n’ bass and trance DJs the world had to offer. It was all about the music for us as owners. We wanted to create events that would have people walking out and talking for days and sometimes weeks after. I knew we had a world-class vibe, and I wanted to share it with all the best DJs in the world.”

To that end, Industry presented an impressive range of artists—including Daft Punk, Basement Jaxx, Paul Oakenfold, Paul Van Dyk, Cevin Fisher, Victor Calderone, Roni Size and Fatboy Slim—in their Canadian club (i.e. non-rave) debuts.

Paul Oakenfold at Industry in 1997. Photo courtesy of Gavin Bryan.

Paul Oakenfold at Industry in 1997. Photo courtesy of Gavin Bryan.

Industry’s core audience was experienced clubbers, gay and straight alike, who knew their music and packed the dancefloor both before and after the club’s peak time of 4 a.m. They are the people who made it possible for Industry to expose a lot of new international talent to Toronto and vice versa. From there, the venue’s ace sound, lighting and staging allowed the DJs to play at their best.

“Industry is a very special place—a DJ’s dream come true,” was how New York legend Danny Tenaglia, a frequent guest, described the venue to me in a 2000 interview.

At the same time, Industry put a big emphasis on Toronto talent, with local residents regarded as stars in their own right.

Peter & Tyrone on four decks. Photo courtesy of Gavin Bryan.

Peter & Tyrone on four decks. Photo courtesy of Gavin Bryan.


4:am CD artwork courtesy of Matt C.

4:am CD artwork courtesy of Matt C.

“In my opinion, the backbone of any club is strong resident DJs,” says Matt C, who mixed the club’s one official CD release, 4:AM (Industry Anthems Vol. 1), in 1998. “If you solely count on international talent, you’re leaving the success of your business in other people’s hands. This is why Mario J and I DJed at the club every week. Of course, legendary Toronto DJs like Dino and Terry, Peter and Tyrone, Kenny Glasgow and quite a few others also graced the turntables because they were all truly amazing—at an international level of quality.”

Adds Bryan: “We wanted to give a platform for local DJs to network with internationals in order to progress their music production, DJ careers and music labels. At the time, Toronto was known for throwing big raves and good warehouse parties, but outside of Nick Holder and The Stickmen, no one from Toronto was getting any shine because there was no real local scene.”

Like all significant dance clubs whose influence is felt long after their doors have closed, Industry was its own scene, thanks to the music, the audience and a deeply involved staff that included some of Toronto’s dance club scene-builders, like Steve Ireson, Jennstar, James Applegath, Rommel, Jason Ford, Mychol Holtzman, Ronnie Ferszt, Craig Pedigrew, Ludikris, Luke Fair and a young Christian Newhook (now known as Dinamo Azari of Azari & III).

Industry staff Jennstar and Yasna. Photo courtesy of Gavin Bryan.

Industry staff Jennstar and Yasna. Photo courtesy of Gavin Bryan.

Who else played there: Industry was anchored by residencies including Friday’s hip-hop night—which ran from 1996-99 with core DJs including Baba Khan, Sean Sax and Starting From Scratch—and SLAM Saturdays, a house and techno night open until 8 a.m., helmed by locals with international guests. The Syrous crew promoted a monthly drum ‘n’ bass night Thursday, at which some of the globe’s greats played, while the monthly Fukhouse nights gathered techno giants including Richie Hawtin, Stacey Pullen, Derrick May and Jeff Mills, who infamously made it to play during Toronto’s infamous blizzard of 1999 (yes, the year Mel Lastman called in the army). Also greatly loved were DJ Sneak’s Solid Sundays, which brought lovers of funky, Chicago-style house together on long weekends. Sneak, in fact, became an ambassador for Industry and re-located to Toronto partly because of the club.

Derrick Carter with Gavin Bryan and J-Dub, 1998. Photo by Idalina Leandro, courtesy of Gavin Bryan.

Derrick Carter with Gavin Bryan and J-Dub, 1998. Photo by Idalina Leandro, courtesy of Gavin Bryan.

Other key names to mention: Derrick Carter (who played at Industry a record 17 times), John Acquaviva, David Morales, Goldie, Josh Wink, DJ Heather, Honey Dijon, Frankie Knuckles, Wyclef Jean and the list of notables goes on.

Flyer promoting Deep Dish at Industry, October 1999.

Flyer promoting Deep Dish at Industry, October 1999.

Flyer promoting Carl Cox at Industry, July 2000.

Flyer promoting Carl Cox at Industry, July 2000.

Gavin Bryan makes mention of an event that many, myself included, still rave about.

“For me there were so many magical house and techno nights, but the most memorable was surprisingly a drum ‘n’ bass show: Roni Size & Reprazent live in 1998. It was standing-room only, with everyone on pogo sticks for two hours.”

As for Matt C, “One of my fave memories would have to be the DJ Sneak and Armand Van Helden party that was one of our long-weekend Sunday events. I remember approaching the club and seeing 600-700 people in line, and then going inside to see that it was almost packed. The stress of the financial side of running a nightclub as a 24-year-old was sometimes extreme, but seeing that kind of turnout really did good things for my spirit.”

Crowd loving Danny Tenaglia at Industry. Photo courtesy of Gavin Bryan.

Crowd loving Danny Tenaglia at Industry. Photo courtesy of Gavin Bryan.

What happened to it: While financial stresses caused by dwindling profits played into the foursome’s collective decision to close Industry’s doors, the forces of Toronto city development weighed heavy.

“The city had goals of building Liberty Village and the anchor tenant that occupied the rest of the office tower was CIBC,” recalls Matt C. “Neither of them wanted this crazy club where we were, so they both decided, after about three years, that they were going to start to make our lives very difficult. As a group, we decided to go out on our own terms. We asked the landlord to let us out of our lease, which they agreed to, and we proceeded to book the best of the best for our final three months. We ended off with a bang rather than chains on the doors, like so many clubs end up.”

Industry went out Sunday, Aug. 6, 2000 with a 20-hour party that featured Matt C, Mr.C and Danny Tenaglia. A Shoppers Drug Mart now stands in its place, with the cashiers stationed where Industry’s DJ booth once was.

Shoppers' cashiers are now stationed where Industry’s DJ booth once was.

Shoppers’ cashiers are now stationed where Industry’s DJ booth once was.

“It is what it is,” summarizes Bryan. “We were not Coca-Cola, but were sure were the real thing—if you were lucky enough to take a sip of the Industry vibe, you know what I mean.”

Bryan continues to produce and market events as Gerbz; Bellavance founded Prism, a series of large-scale gay men’s circuit events; Matt C continues to DJ occasionally, but is a successful realtor working with former Industry manager Ben Ferguson; Mario J. went on to promote under the A.D/D. banner, but is now producing music as Milano, with a new EP set to drop on Tiga’s Turbo label on December 13.

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  • Reply Stephanie December 22, 2023 at 8:36 pm

    Best chill room ever! Best time of my life!

  • Reply Craig Holmes July 30, 2023 at 6:19 am

    Still is to this day, after my club culture beginnings from 91 in the UK rave dens, Industry is one of the best places I’ve had the pleasure & privilege of enjoying listening to DJ’s play some of the best music I’ve heard in clubland! Roger Sanchez in 97 blew the roof off, his mixing skills on 3 decks (1210’s) was sublime, not watched / listened to a DJ since pull off mixes that he did that night?
    Only regret is both times I visited TO in 96 & 97 I missed DT playing at Industry by a week.

  • Reply Brad December 1, 2020 at 3:55 am

    This place was the best. Nothing will ever beat it. The nights that stand out the most to me were: Derrick Cart/Dj Sneak on 4 turntables, Derrick Carter when he spun for 8 hrs on the floor (not onthe stage booth), Mark Farina/Derrick Carter on Valentines Day, Jeff Mills during a blizzard, Felix Da Housecat, Green Velvet Live PA/DJ Sneak, The Chicago Night with J-DUb, Gene Farris, DJ Diz, Stacey Pullen, Carl Craig/Moodyman, Richie Hawtin, Derrick May. Do many good memories. The Club was stylish, the people were amazing and everyone was accepted and happy. It will forever hold a HUGE place in my heart.

  • Reply Leaving The Comfort Zone; Looking Back on Toronto's After-Hours Institution That Closes This Weekend May 25, 2017 at 9:41 am

    […] new King West location became Industry, and is now widely recognized as one of the most important dance clubs in Toronto’s […]

  • Reply Angelo Conn August 26, 2015 at 2:05 am

    As a promoter of Industry working with Gary Costa and the steet team in those day taught me how to communicate with people in a positive upbeat manner, nobody could stop us as a promo team because we believed in what we were doing and repersenting , we were proud about the club.

  • Reply Daniel April 16, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    I have fond memories of Industry. Check out my instagram account, which has many old flyers from this legendary club.

  • Reply Denise Benson December 12, 2014 at 2:21 am

    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.

    Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to party at some amazing clubs around the world, but Industry will always hold a special place for me. As a young(ish) kid whose entire experience with dance/DJ culture to that point had been forged at raves, it represented my first time seeing something done really professionally. No lining up outside of a dodgy warehouse, or having to call the day of in order to find out where the venue was, no more having headliners not show up, or having the police threaten to shut it down – it represented a whole new world to me.
    A very good friend of mine lived directly across the street from it during his final year at U of T, and none of us could figure out why he chose to live so far from campus in a part of the city where absolutely nothing was going on at the time (cheap rent was the answer). We still chuckle over that piece of good fortune.
    It was an amazing place where I discovered so many new sounds and artists, and it’s where Toronto’s dance scene first grew up. It still blows my mind to think that Luke Fair got his start there as a busboy. I think it’s telling that even now, 13 years after it closed, people still get excited when they talk about it. Without a doubt, it stands right up there with the top clubs in any city on earth, past and present.
    It existed during a great period in this city’s history, and there were other great clubs around at the same time, or slightly after (System Soundbar, Roxy Blue…), but Industry was, and forever will be, the king of them all.
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    8:06 pm on June 2, 2013

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    11:24 pm on February 14, 2013

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    11:21 pm on December 1, 2012

    I sure have fond foggy memories of this place.
    Does anyone remember what night was the gay night at Industry around Dec 15th 1999.
    My partner and I believe we met Dec 15th but that was a wed night.
    Your thoughts would be appreciated.
    Michael and James
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    12:55 am on August 26, 2012

    frankie knukles if memory serves me.
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    9:56 am on October 31, 2012

    man i cant even oput into words had much fun this place was. i think about every now and again, i have to admit i sometime shed a tear or 2.
    i had some of the best times of my life at industry. i miss it
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    8:43 pm on May 10, 2012

    Bill Chalmers
    I was fortunate enough to hit Industry a few times before it closed up. The nights that stand out in my mind were the Destiny Ascension parties that were the last Friday of the month for the longest time. I remember being one of the last ones on the dancefloor with about thirty or fourty others at 7am, rockin it to Madagascar.
    Loved that place. Except for that one step that just appeared out of nowhere and tripped me up a dozen or so times….hahaha!
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    9:30 am on January 21, 2012

    Denise Benson
    Another wicked mix forwarded my way by a reader. This one finds Derrick Carter & DJ Sneak rocking the four decks at Industry. It’s so raw, so live, so good! http://soundcloud.com/housejunkie88/derrick-carter-dj-sneak-live
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    2:51 pm on December 1, 2011

    Shawn Syms (@shawnsyms)
    I was there that night! And many other memorable ones.
    Thanks for the loving tribute.
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    11:32 am on December 30, 2011

    Mike Greco
    Industry was the club that helped open my eyes to what was possible in terms of promotion and booking talent and building a community around the incredible atmosphere you can only get when people who genuinely love music gather together in one place. It certainly had a massive influence on me when I started Breathe. Even though I was never close on a personal level with Matt, Gavin, Kenny and the rest, I will always have a warm spot for them in my heart. May that early morning, mid-dancefloor spirit live forever.
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    1:09 pm on December 1, 2011

    Jesse Goldfarb
    I had the honor of watching Daft Punk play a set from 4 feet away @ Industry. That would never happen today. Also watching Mat Herbert play a live p.a using only a looper, kitchen utensils and a light! I miss it all.
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    11:32 am on December 1, 2011

    makes me miss Lorraine’s afterhours …
    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
    6:07 pm on November 30, 2011

    Robert Moses
    She’s still having parties.
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    1:00 am on December 7, 2012

    Amy Miranda
    Thank you for this Denise. I am happy to say that the old home of Industry is my neighborhood shoppers drug mart. I have some footage, it’s on VHS but I have it. I’ll try to post in the next week or so. Thanks for paying homage to what really was something special.
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    5:22 pm on November 30, 2011

    Denise Benson
    And here’s another slice of house history, this one passed along by ‘Jack Declared’… “Derrick Carter Live From Industry (Toronto, ’97-ish’)” found for streaming or download at http://www.lettherebehouse.ca/?p=110
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    5:10 pm on November 30, 2011

    Denise Benson
    Thanks to reader and Facebook pal Aaron Richard Campbell who noticed this mix by excellent Toronto house DJs Peter & Tyrone, recorded at Industry back in the day. Props to the folks at Toronto Rave Mixtape Archive. http://www.torontoravemixtapearchive.com/files/mixtapes/Peter%20and%20Tyrone%20-%20Live%20at%20Industry%20Night%20Club.mp3
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    3:21 pm on November 30, 2011

    Paul Mitchell
    I had the pleasure of spending a few magic all-nighters at Industry, dancing the night away as condensation dripped off the walls, then emerging exhausted but smiling after dawn, blinking into the morning sun. Caught some great dj’s there, like Danny Tenaglia, Fatboy Slim, and Basement Jaxx. A special place at a special time in the history of electronic music. Other times in summer on an early Sunday morning bike ride I’d cruise by the building and hear the beats pumping out of the vents at the back of the building as the party raved into the morning. Good times all around!
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    3:01 pm on November 30, 2011

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