Posted: June 24th, 2009 by antsdonnelly

My name is Anthony Donnelly; I was born in Glasgow Scotland and immigrated to Canada when I was a child with my mother and father, frequently returning to the U.K. on holidays. I want to tell a story of the birth and creation of a culture that exploded amongst youth in North America called the, ‘rave scene’.  I thought the story would be best told by one of the persons responsible. The year was 1988 and I was returning to Glasgow for a visit, but this one was much different from all the other ones that I had encountered, little did I know  this time it was about to change my life completely and the rest of Toronto’s youth for that matter.

This was a different U. K. from what I was used to. There was this new sound out called ‘house and techno’, there were hard nosed Britt’s now in mock rituals dancing together. This experience was all too welcoming, overwhelming, and I really took it to heart. I returned to Canada three weeks later dissatisfied with the reality that this movement did not exist in North America and then decided at that very moment someone had to get the ball rolling.

anthony & john

That very same week I was introduced to a person named John Angus, who had also just returned from Glasgow and had encountered the exact same experience. This meeting of two complete strangers was when the pilot was lit. We had both agreed to start and try to figure out a way of getting this off the ground. The three main elements that were required to get this up and happening were ecstasy, a venue, and a DJ that was already up to speed with this music that was to come. Now the hunt was on.

The only knowledge of this ecstasy I had heard of was in the gay scene at the time. It was a desperate and quick hunt through the gay bars and after-hours clubs.  Within three long weeks we found the first element.

mark oliver

During the couple of week’s travels we had caught wind that there was a DJ named Mark Oliver, playing this sound at a run down shady warehouse unit, to an empty dance floor called ‘23 Hop’. Eager to meet him and see the venue we went the following week. The moment we walked into the venue, seen it was completely empty, and heard the music the stage was now set. Manchester had the hacienda, New York had the limelight and Toronto now had 23 Hop. At the end of the night we spoke with the DJ who coincidentally was from Glasgow and shared the same views and vision. It was then that Malik X, Dr. No and Sean L were brought on board to complete the “Booming System Collective”, the musical innovators. The following week John and I brought five friends with us to the hop, and they too had the exact same experience as me. That was the planting off the seed if you will.

23 Hop

The five guests we brought that night had spread the word with us and at week two there were now fifteen of us. This ritual followed the same pattern for several weeks on end bringing us now to a crowd of roughly one hundred people in on the event, at the ground zero of a look at things to come. The word was out. The people that were attending theses parties were molding dance culture never to be changed, they were the future. At this point John and I approached the club owner and offered him one thousand dollars for his venue on the Friday night. He was hesitant, and at first refused seeing the potential of what was going on until we reminded him that we could take them all to another venue, so he agreed and he got the bar profits and we took the door and what ever else.

Within two months there were four hundred people attending ritually and it was mission accomplished. We named our production company ‘EXODUS’ and it kicked off an entire culture in North America never to be the same.

Make some fucking noise.

7 Responses to “Starts With An E”

  1. RickToxic Says:

    Thank you for writing this.

  2. Danny Henry Says:

    Who ever wrote this doent have a clue! nice one….

  3. Adrian Says:

    the unity ball was my 2nd party! Dj Welly at the operahouse,,, i can still remember the banner
    “Ecstasy Its The Real Thing” all done up like coca-cola red and white, what ever happened to the original raving crew? am i the only one left

  4. bernie Says:

    well done anthony been a longtime bernie from betterdays is excited hopefully ELAINE will be in da HOUSE

  5. Iain Says:

    Ive always said Scotland invented the modern world, now we know it invented the rave scene in Canada as well.

  6. Caragh Says:

    thank god for ants and john, missed the start but had many many great nights with them made my time in canada so much more fun.

  7. Somsay Says:

    Very cool! very inspiring even today. Bless you all 🙂

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