A host of international DJs and about 15,000 members of the Toronto dance scene gathered Tuesday night to rally against a temporary ban on raves on city property that could be abolished at Wednesday's (Aug. 2) City Council meeting.
World-renowned Chicago house DJ Derrick Carter and top UK drum & bass DJs Jumpin' Jack Frost (with Dynamite MC), Ed Rush and Matrix joined local heroes Anabolic Frolic and Dr. Trance in performing to support the Toronto Dance Safety Committee, which organized the event and has been battling city officials since the May 10 ban.
"We wanted to show City Council that we're a very large, organized group of people that aren't going to be pushovers," TDSC spokesperson Kim Stanford said. "We also wanted to provide an opportunity to correct some of the misinformation that is out there, [to show] that we're a group of people who come together because of the music. We're not a bunch of aliens out there."
Stanford said the committee had been planning the rally, which took place at Nathan Phillips Square near Toronto City Hall, for several months. Dubbed iDance, the event also included performances by New York veteran Miss Honey Dijon, Bad Boy Bill, MC Flipside and MC E by Gum.
"People are ecstatic about how our community came together," said Dr. Trance (born Don Berns), who co-hosted iDance. "There were very few problems. The main goal was to raise awareness of the rave scene not being a bunch of cracked-out 15-year-olds. That's not what we're all about."
Dr. Trance said he spoke with several City Council members who originally voted for the ban, which the TDSC is worried will push raves to underground and unsafe venues, but had changed their minds after watching the rally.
No councilors were available for comment Wednesday.
However, councilor George Mammoliti told local newspaper the Toronto Sun that witnessing iDance did not change his mind.
"In fact, it scares me," he said. "Most of these kids are under the age of 16."
One of the issues under discussion by the City Council is age restrictions at dance-music events.
Wednesday night's vote had not been completed at press time.
Stanford said she saw several staff members from Mayor Mel Lastman's office at iDance, but that the mayor or Police Chief Julian Fantino, the original proponents of the ban, did not appear to be present.
Organizers intended to feature more local talent, such as techno legend Richie Hawtin, a resident of nearby Windsor, but schedules were conflicting.
"We had to draw more heavily on internationals than we would have ideally liked," Stanford said. "But the good thing about yesterday was that there was a lot of diversity in the crowd. People who like happy hardcore and people who like hip-hop hanging out together."