Tuesday December 31st, 1991. With a new year fast approaching, resolutions regarding Toronto raving were plentiful. Photocopied flyers would no longer be the standard after this professionally printed rave flyer. And size now mattered too. This promo was bigger than any previous effort and it was reflected in the inflated $25 cover charge, which was more than triple the usual cost. Smart bars, merchandising and more – the first evidence that rave promotion was becoming business before pleasure.
The music was also being remixed. While Malik was gearing up for his final Exodus appearance, Chris Sheppard was slotted to make his first. “The Dogwhistle,” however, was no stranger to this vibe. After returning from England in 1988 he threw an acid house party called, The Temple of Psychic Youth, at the Masonic Temple on October 23rd (another notable 23 occurrence). This event, Shep’s promotion of dance music via the CFNY airways and role in the formation of 23 Hop were important precursors to raving in Toronto.
While it may or may not have been amicable, this evening represented a passing of the torch between the two DJs. Malik helped incubate the scene during its formative months while Shep can be credited for helping to lay its foundation and an influential role during its massive growth. Both represented different schools of DJing: hobby vs. career, community vs. masses. Yet there was no doubt that each one felt the utmost passion for music. Many are firm believers of the Malik era being Toronto’s purest form of raving, Shep was perfectly qualified to push forward a scene that began exploding in 1992.
Unfortunately I was not in attendance for this event. Had I (and a crew of other Exodus devotees) known how important this event would end up being, we would have not been in Quebec City begging the DJ to play any form of techno he had. Those of us who missed out have all regretted it ever since. When the 23 Hop smoke machine settled, it became apparent that Unity in 1992 wouldn’t last long. Despite the glimmer of hope from Malik’s NYE appearance, he was a man of his word and would never return to raving. And, surprisingly, Exodus would never return to 23 Hop – which most of us assumed would resume the first Saturday night in January. It was rumored that disagreements between the partners erupted during New Year’s Eve followed by a parting of ways with the management of 23 Hop. As a result Mark Oliver exited from Exodus and John went on hiatus. Anthony went solo and threw a rave in late January at the Knights of Columbus in Brampton (coincidentally located on John Street.)
Eight months later John and Anthony reunited for a few large-scale events. It wasn’t long before they realized the integrity of their original concept couldn’t be adapted to such a rapidly progressing scene. Eventually the guys returned to their roots by throwing a small party at a venue known as the Actor’s Lab. It was widely considered one of their best events. After that, Exodus airlines was grounded, permanently.
“One day Malik had a vision that someone else would come along and run the scene. We just laughed it off, but he was right.” – John Angus