Archive for August, 2009

Jimmy J

exodus flyer 1

Saturday August 31st, 1991, exactly 18 years to the day. This is the earliest Exodus flyer we have been able to track down. The date stamp indicates the flyer was probably used for multiple parties, was this the first? With memories understandably foggy no one can say for sure. But the general consensus with those who were present think it could very well be.

The drawing is an artist’s rendition of what would happen if the Cabbage Patch Kids started listening to techno. Surprisingly accurate if you ask us.

“$3 off with flyer” hand-written along the left edge meant admission for $4. Definitely the biggest bang for your buck in the history of Toronto raving.

Jimmy J

318 Richmond Street West Floor Plan

1. Aside from club kids scattered about you would never know a club existed here. The only signage was “tri-ad photo engravers” which previously operated in the entire building.

2. A journey up a flight of stairs to the the main floor where bouncers (one frequently brought a dog) greeted you with a pat down, then directed you to the first room.

3. The floor here is unique, it’s covered in fish tank gravel that glowed under the black lights. There’s a cover charge to the right. Admission to Exodus events was $7.

4. Continuing east, to the right was a front room which was a standing room with railings for drinks on the north and west walls were lit by spotlights.

23 hop front

5. The second room sometimes operated as a alcohol-free bar. In later years the drywall between the two rooms was removed and a second sound system was placed here.

23 hop front room

6. To the north and there was another room which was also a standing room with more drink rails on the north wall.

23 hop room

7. To the right was a third room that had a pool table in it or sometimes used for storage and locked.

8. Beside this room was the office which owners, managers and promoters had access to.

9. Continue north up a long graffiti laden corridor with a multi-coloured lighting effect originating from the  north end of the corridor. It made the walk in this direction seem endless.

10. The men’s unisex washroom had urinals and a stall on the north wall, sink on the south.

11. There was a small narrow coat check between the washrooms.

12. The women’s unisex washroom had stalls on the south wall and a sink on the north wall.

13. To the right there was an entrance to the rear stair case to exit below or continue to the top floor.

14. At the north end of this corridor lay the infamous transformable bar and elevator.

23 hop elevator

15. Continuing west was the the DJ booth, which was made up of concrete slabs with a few knocked out on the corner for dance floor visibility. There was a small stair case inside as the booth floor was elevated. Turn tables were located on the south wall and lighting controls on the north west wall.

23 hop dj booth

16. The main speakers, laser unit and smoke machine were on the north wall of the venue. Tweeters and large tube strobe lights hung from the ceiling throughout.

17. The dance floor contained numerous rafters that were moved about. A go-go dancer made an appearance once a night on one of these platforms situated towards the center of the room. She was covered in body paint that glowed under the black lights from the ceiling.

18. There was an exit to the cover charge room at the south end of the dance floor. It was time to leave when the DJs completely flooded the dance floor with smoke sometime between 5 and 6am.

The photography above was primarily taken in 1992 during 23 Hop Sykosis parties and other events in the years that followed. Photography from Exodus and other 1991 events is extremely rare, please contact us if you have some.

Have any 318 memories that we missed? Please speak your mind below!

Jimmy J

Located at 318 Richmond Street West, 23 Hop began operating in the summer of 1990 – when the term “entertainment district” was still years away from being coined. “Hop” was the ultimate example of a warehouse club: a raw space tweaked with just enough fire exits and suitable washrooms to legally qualify it as a hall. The venue was located in a pocket of the city that still housed more empty warehouses than nightclubs –  an apparent hangover from a once-flourishing factory district. In the 1980s nightclub prospectors saw potential in these parts. Situated just west of the downtown core they were void of residential properties, and better yet, the rent was cheap. The property owners were delighted to see signs of life in the area and most of them jumped at the opportunity for consistent rental income.

But how did 23 Hop come to be? The idea was conceived in the winter of 1990 while founder Wesley Thuro was running his sound and lighting business. It dawned on him that he could have a place to store his equipment and make use of at the same time. After conspiring with DJ Chris Sheppard by June of 1990 the venue opened its doors as an all-ages spot with top-notch sound, lighting and laser system compliments of Thuro. The DJs included Shep, Mark Oliver, D-Nice and Deadly Hedly Jones who ensured a packed house full of rambunctious teens. Unfortunately, like most all-ages club nights in those days, the positive vibe got overruled by fights which were happening all too often at Hop. This element turned management off and prompted their decision to operate the venue as a rental hall while they concentrated on another project.

23 hop card

In January of 1991 the one-part genius, two-parts frugal concept called The Bovine Sex Club was was born on Queen Street West. “I’ve been to the Bovine Sex Club, now I want to go home” was the slogan used on the original laminated 23 Hop neon membership cards indicating that 23 Hop had an after-hours friendly format. In the early 90s liquor sales ended at 1am, and with a limited variety of venues to entertain Toronto clubbers, the illegal booze business was the biggest Toronto had seen since prohibition. No rocker in (or out of) their right mind could be convinced to attend an after-party unless it was a boozecan, and 318 was well equipped to operate as such. With no liquor license associated with the premises there was no risk of it being suspended or revoked in the event that alcohol service was discovered by the cops. Better yet, the likelihood of being caught was slim given the unique features of the venue summarized in this July 2, 1992 edition of Eye which discusses one of the many incarnations of the venue, The Zombie Club.

zombie club 318 richmond street west

Boozecans were a part of the the venues rentals, but mostly the two-floor hall offered refuge for numerous underground scenes, warehouse jams and small concerts.

23 Hop FlyerWhere did the name “23 Hop” come from? You’ll discover it was partially derived from its address by answering this skill testing question: 31-8 = ?  “Hop” may have been chosen because it was a three-letter verb that ensured the name would be made up of characters that had a 23 influence [23 (2) Hop (3)].

What’s the hoopla about 23? Some believe it goes beyond simple math and this is where things start to get a little weird. DJ Chris Sheppard, who reportedly lent original BSC owner Wesley Thuro half the investment for Bovine’s launch, was also involved in the 23 Hop project. Chris Sheppard (aka DJ Dogwhistle) was born on October 23, and had a fascination with the number well before Jim Carrey did in the film, “The Number 23.” That film was based on the phenomenon experienced by millions who believe important events are connected to the number 23, and I agree with them.

Bovine Sex Club 23 Hop Card

In 2011 Rick Toxic put together a blinder of a mix on his radio show (FullyCharged) in honor of 23 Hop:

Jimmy J

This is the first in a series of Radio London recordings. It was recorded from the radio in 1991 sometime between September and December.

If you read the previous entry on DJ Malik X it won’t take you long to realize this recording is a shinning example of everything that was Radio London and Malik. We’ll let it speak for itself.

Track List:

  • Dance No More – E-Lustrious
  • I’m Alright – Y.F.B.
  • Electrofear (beatsmix) – Nation 12
  • Discovery – Masterminds
  • Noise Factory – Noise Factory
  • Can You Get Ready For This – 2 Unlimited
  • Machine Dream – Dimension
  • Bumrush the Sound – Supermatic
Jimmy J

CKLN 88.1 consoleWell before raving took place in Toronto there was a DJ known as Malik X, who was arguably one of the best the city had to offer.

In the late 1980s Malik began hosting a Ryerson University community radio show he called “Radio London.” If you set your dial to CKLN 88.1 on Saturdays from 6-8pm your ears were greeted by Malik’s smooth English accent proudly showcasing the new and old sounds of his hometown.

“Techno is happening right now in London like you wouldn’t believe and the show is called Radio London and that’s why I’m playing it. And I’m also playing rare groove, swing beat, and everything else – I’m trying to keep everybody happy.” – Malik X (19:27)

trance induced state Malik XMalik was a hidden gem as far as Toronto radio personalities go: a professional with big radio talent, yet happy with the level of creative control and impact he had with his volunteer gig. His dedication was apparent in the listening experience which rivaled mainstream radio but with content that was anything but. His broadcasts featured numerous Radio London bumpers and Malik X soundbites throughout, production qualities that were far the norm of community radio at the time. Of course, creating these samples was second nature to Malik, as behind the scenes he was producing his own music (tape cover left, more on this later). And unlike most mainstream radio DJs he actually knew how to mix, and mix very well. This skill became obvious when he overcame the challenge of mixing with broadcast turntables at the CKLN studios.

Behind the scenes Malik was also a spoken-word poet, so he had a wonderful way with words which provided a pleasant on-air demeanor. Even when tongue-twisted he would ever so smoothly unravel his thoughts and his sense of humor would leave us with something far more entertaining than if he spoke it correctly. His abilities with a microphone were well utilized for his genuine support of a tight-knit community that was the trusted voice of. He  always encouraged calls from listeners and discussed their comments on air.  He went beyond the call of duty in fund raising drives and constantly promoted local record stores by preaching the purchase of vinyl, rather than just dubbing cassette tapes. Malik was well known by friends for his spirituality made evident by his words and his ankh accessorized wardrobe. His listeners knew him for  subtle messages of wisdom and well-wishing because of shows that often contained his own PSAs.

“If you’re out there driving, please, ’cause I know a lot of people will be driving and also will be drinking – because the subways aren’t running and all that sort of stuff. If you’re going to do that, think again, because that’s bad news, alright?” – Malik X (43:00)

With his broadcast talents forming just one part of the many frequencies emitting from Malik, he was also well known for a number of club residencies. In 1989 he spun a rare-groove-based set to a packed house every Saturday evening at the Caribou Club at College and Bathurst.

the claremont queen street west

In 1990 the venue was leased to the owners of  Sneaky Dee’s, and Caribou’s management relocated to the The Claremont on Queen Street West (now Starbucks) where Malik spun a more progressive set on Saturday nights on the lower floor. In 1991, a Wednesday night at the Cameron House on Queen West (still there) – originally titled “Flirty Dancing” and promoted by Tom Davis – eventually morphed into a longstanding evening of acid jazz with Malik X.

Since Malik offered such a complete package, he also earned regular time slots at various warehouse parties throughout the city. He would often refer to the parties as “raves” because he was aware of the rave buzz in the UK and these events were the closest thing to it at the time. That is, until Malik was united with the Exodus crew via DJ Mark Oliver – who was in charge of the DJ line-up at these events. Exodus raves eventually became a regular installment in Toronto’s after-hours scene and Malik became one of its biggest promotional forces.

dj malix x toronto flyer

Around this date in 1991 the music programming on Malik’s radio show began to shift. Where once the show echoed the soothing sounds of rare-groove, soul and acid jazz, the airways were now filled with hardcore sounds and accelerated beats. Malik was getting caught up in the energy of the burgeoning Toronto scene and his radio show was now fully synchronized with the techno surge in the UK. This was made possible because of hot-off-the-press vinyl sent directly from London contacts which he then showcased on a segment of his show called Air Witness News. His broadcasts were a pre-rave staple within the tight-knit community and would create positive momentum for the event at 318 Richmond Street West which occurred a few hours later. Sure, the format change alienated the portion of his audience looking for a more mellow mix – but for every listener he lost two new rave seeking listeners set their dials to 88.1.

His remaining Wednesday residency at the Cameron House was also being influenced by his involvement in the new scene as it once again morphed in to a mid-week mellow-out session for those who had been to Exodus and seen the future.

When performing at 23 Hop, every aspect of his showmanship shined through – a fact that made it easy for Malik to focus his energy on it. As a result of his linguistic abilities he naturally adopted the role of MC during Exodus raves.  He coined Toronto’s first rave MC chants which completed the true rave experience in Toronto. His impact on the scene would be seen and heard for years to come. Think Dr. No, who was influenced by Malik’s MC and mixing mannerisms and openly named him as inspiration.

With his main gig rumored to be a 9-5 for the TTC, Malik was moonlighting solely for his love of music. But just like his tracks had made leaps in BPM, his DJ career was now also set to +8 and the scene was evolving even faster. As a result he started to question the path he was on with regards to his role in Toronto raving.

UPDATE 4/16: 7 years after we published this article we made contact with Malik. Get the update and listen to his new mixes here.

Here’s a rare and raw interview with Malik from 2000. Thanks to Ondine Hayes for sharing footage from her forthcoming documentary: The Day I Found the Music: My Raveolution.