How many times have you left a dance party too early because you had way too much to drink and can barely even remember who was playing? Or maybe you left in the wee hours of the morning, but your main goal the whole night was partying and getting drunk/high/laid.
Is this the club scene in Toronto? Is this where we've ended up? Dance music is at a beautiful place in music history right now, so why are we letting it go to waste?
It's Not U It's Me, a new(ish) Toronto party collective is single handedly changing the direction of this conversation by throwing some of the city's most exciting, out-there, diverse and positive dance parties around. All in the name of underground dance music club culture.
"We are trying to be a nerve centre for the cozy network of concerned party enthusiasts here in Toronto focused on elevating underground dance culture," Brian Wong, one of the founding members of INUIM says.
Made up of dozens of like-minded musicians, artists, promoters, soundsystem nerds and friends they work together with all their different experience to throw immersive dance and art parties in unusual places around the city.
"The long-term goal is to work together to maintain high standards and grow the night time economy here, which in turn creates a nurturing platform for aspiring artists to find their own voice and connect to broader international audiences."
Sounds almost like a science! That's because it kind of is. With a Slack channel of over 100 people contributing ideas, theories and suggestions the group's mantra wants to change the dance party landscape here through a series of beliefs, technologies and venues.
Club safety is a big topic in the group (they have their own policy, which you can read about here - I also want to use this policy for everday life?!), where they not only ensure safe physical spaces, but mental ones for party goers, staff and everyone involved.
They're currently running a series of three parties at The Power Plant down by the water, and transforming the massive art space into a giant underground dance warehouse space with sculpture installations, AV performance art, and dancefloors to "lose yourself in." The July edition is a collaboration with Detroit's legendary Interdimensional Transmissions crew.
"For this event series at The Power Plant, we have five local presenting partners (essentially dj/promoter groups) and four arts partners (six art curators), all of whom are involved in some capacity with programming/operational decisions," Wong says.
"There are many other independent artists, DJs and enthusiasts [involved], I'd say the place where we overlap is our values, our commitment to reaching towards a naive utopian dance floor ideal where partygoers can momentarily lose themselves in a sort of communion and come back to reality with some new knowledge or issues resolved."
So basically you can still elevate yourself with substances if you want, you can still aim to get laid, but with a INUIM party, you'll probably leave feeling refreshed, with a couple new ideas in your head and hopefully a new sense of what a dance party can be.
"Sometimes we want for people to be reminded that they can drop their pre-conceived biases and assumptions about each other and just co-exist in harmony and in sync, in solidarity," he says. "Dance floors are only as good as the effort put in by the dancers on them," Wong explains.
"The DJ's search for that next perfect obscure new age disco or industrial psychobilly record is an uphill battle. In the end, most of the spiritually enriching moments we seek are only found through passion and commitment."
This is what makes the groups so fascinating. It's collectives like them, and even Dudebox, who are pushing for better spaces and vibes. Sure, they're a group of people organizing things, but they need the audience to be part of the project as well. They are like a permeable dance music membrane -- dance music lovers are just as much a part of INUIM as orgranizers are.
"One of our early goals was to challenge the status quo of how dance music (and really all culture) is consumed here in Toronto," Wong says.
"Crowds focused solely on getting drunk and laid instead of vibing out can often create toxic, uncomfortable atmospheres. We want our spaces to have a better vibe. Vibe is the connective tissue that brings a party together, the shared openness to new possibilities, the space for people to create their own new unique stories."
There's nothing wrong with going out and getting (more than) tipsy on the dance floor, but once in a while, open your heart and your mind and check out an INUIM party and see what underground dance music can really do.
Photo from the It's Not U It's Me Facebook page.
by Phil Villeneuve via blogTO