“This one goes out to the man called Malik, [whispers] happy birthday.” – Dr. No (16:27)
January 25, 1992. It started like most Saturdays with a morning shift at my neighborhood Esso gas station. But unlike previous Saturdays in 1991, I wasn’t as anxious to clock-out. Since there weren’t any raves scheduled, there was nothing to rush to after my shift ended. With no location to rave at in the new year, the city’s 300 ravers were in the midst of an identity crisis. And even though raves were functioning weeks prior – the scene’s uncertain future made them feel like a distant memory.
“A regular feature at 23 Hop, for those of you who remember that.” – Dr. No (15:18)
But there was a little hope. I was told by Captain B. Mental that we could expect to hear some techno on Radio London (even though Malik was three weeks into rave retirement.) That day my shift ended at 6pm – giving me enough time to walk home and slam a tape in my deck to record the broadcast. Malik gave Dr. No a 30-minute slot during his show to showcase techno. He called it the Techno Lab, and the above recording is what transpired.
This recording is evidence of an amicable passing of the torch between two men from the same school of DJing. No one was more qualified than the Doctor to ambassador the vibe formed in 1991. In the years that followed he rode the the groove of progression and never forgot how it all began.
“Techno – the music of the future. And remember where you all started to hear it first – Radio London CKLN 88.1″ Dr. No (23:18)
This particular day picked up more steam with reports of Mark Oliver spinning at a pub outside Toronto. With my tape deck left recording, I met up with Captain B. and we went down to the CKLN studios on our way to the pub. It was my first time there and Alan introduced me to Malik and Dr. No, who I had only ever seen from a distance – through the missing concrete slabs in the DJ booth.
From the studio we made our way to the pub. I can’t remember for sure if it was in Brampton, but I do remember taking a Go bus to get there. It was definitely in the 905, but before the days where you actually had to dial it. After spending a bit of time at the pub we weren’t hearing the hardcore we were hoping for so we boarded the bus back to downtown to continue our quest. We knew 23 Hop wasn’t functioning the way it used to, but decided to take our chances and went directly to 318.
We walked right past the empty cover booth – a tell-tale sign for club-goers that the end of the party is near. The house lights were on, no lasers were on stun, and the system wasn’t boomin’. Whatever party had been there had not succeeded. A tiny crew of confused Exodus hopefuls gathered outside the DJ booth. Then Dr. No arrived and everyone looked to him for answers, almost as if he was delivering long-awaited news to a family in a waiting room. In this case the loved one was Exodus Productions, which had been in a coma since the morning of January 1st and the prognosis wasn’t positive.
At that moment B. Mental pulled a tape out of his puffy green Naf-Naf jacket and popped it in the booth’s tape deck. The uncomfortable silence was over. The tape was a recording of the Exodus New Years rave, which began with Dr. No on the mic. He and everyone else had a laugh and we all starting dancing to the cassette now blasting over the club’s system.
I was in 23 Hop, and even if the audio was an analog version, I felt like I was back at Exodus with the Booming System blaring from the booth. Better yet, I was reliving the NYE event I had missed.
Unfortunately the flashback was short-lived. Roughly 20 minutes later the manager on duty pressed stop on the tape deck so he could close shop. We all quietly filed out of the club on to Richmond Street. The same question was on everyone’s mind: where do we go from here? This impromptu rave was over, yet the night was still young.
But then what? Because during those sobering moments I realized the true golden age of raving in Toronto was over.
“It’s enough to make a grown man cry and a man’s bottom lip swell-up.” – Malik X (00:07)
- Here and Now – By Shakaboom
- Triple XXX – Bug Khan & The Plastic Jam
- Get on the Move – Bass Construction
- The Melodic EP – One II One
- M25′s – E-Type
- Jock’s Nightmare – Intense