Volume 93, Issue 47

Tuesday, November 23, 1999


London's evolving party scene

Countering a counter-culture

London's evolving party scene

©Graphic by Brahm Wiseman

By Becky Somerville
Gazette Staff

As Toronto's rave scene proliferates, London parties seem to be on a downward spiral. A lack of large scale rave venues, however, has conceivably helped to strengthen the core of London's DJ culture, exposing talent and providing opportunities for the once underground sounds to be more accessible to the mainstream.

Liz Kaminsky, a third-year administrative and commercial studies student at Western and seasoned member of the London rave scene, said she has travelled to Toronto, Kingston and Ottawa to attend parties and experience the diversity of the musical styles.

"The scene in London is kind of underdeveloped. Toronto has one of the most well established scenes in North America and a lot of talent from London, even promoters, go to Toronto," Kaminsky said.

Despite the descent of London parties, Kaminsky explained the people and the vibe at the raves she has been to offer a sense of community, acceptance and warmth, which culminate in an excellent place for entertainment and release.

Kaminsky said there has been some negative attention drawn to the rave scene and there is little media coverage which exposes the positive elements of the culture in London or Toronto.

"The problem with the media is that they only represent the negative aspects of the rave culture and drugs and unsafe venues, but completely ignore the positive things about the scene," Kaminsky said. "The media makes it seem so dangerous, but it's a safe-knit community. Incidents, when viewed without reference, cast a very negative light on an almost entirely positive scene."

Although Kaminsky admitted some people attend parties solely for the drug aspect, she added the rave culture in London is comprised of an older crowd who have had much more exposure to drug education. Thus, they are able to make an informed decision more so than some of the younger people who are increasingly attending Toronto parties. "[Older students] know their limits much more then, say, a 14 year-old." She added while drugs are readily available at raves, many people in attendance opt to party sober.

Amir Khordehpaz, a former rave promoter, now a marketing and public relations director for London's Lush Niteclub, said he moved away from the London rave business when he realized they were becoming trendy. "People were getting involved in the rave scene for all the wrong reasons. It was seen as the 'cool' thing to do."

The transformation of turntables in the underground to clubs has been a positive one, which offers job permanence and an accessible venue, where anyone can go to see international and local DJs spin as well as big hip-hop acts in concert, Khordehpaz said.

"We're doing something more permanent and have the ability to expose people on a regular basis to what's going on," he said.

Nitin Kalyan, a London DJ and owner of Wax Records, said while the evolution of DJ music into the mainstream has been advantageous, it has also resulted in a lot of generic, formulaic beats.

"I really do think the music is taking on its natural progression in the industry," Kalyan said. "The whole DJ culture of scratching and turntablism – it's growing and expanding into different areas."

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