69 Bathurst Street’s nightclub project born to the minds of Richard Lambert, Jesse Girard and Kenny Hotz has seen its last party. This past Saturday, hundreds of sweaty electronic music fans packed into The Hoxton for a penultimate hurrah in the wake of the owner’s decision to not extend their five-year lease. Enthralled by the sounds of the who’s who of Toronto’s global electronic music producing community, Zeds Dead, Hunter Siegel, Grandtheft, Sleepy Tom, and Omar Linx, 600 attendees rattled the wooden floors as the impromptu party place etched an exclamation point onto its fiery legacy.
The Hoxton’s reputation has been as a no-holds-barred concert club that was continually populated by alternative music acts. A sweaty corridor capped off with a mighty PK sound system, promoter/partner Embrace’s ambitions continued to prioritize the music offering above anything else. While competing venues on King West provided little more than bottle service and booths, The Hoxton’s interior gave offbeat music lovers a place of solace in a sea of mundane and formulaic club options. It’s no wonder why the powers that be in the world of music chose this club as their place to party; Kanye West, Drake, The Chainsmokers, Skrillex, and Diplo to name a few.
Below, we’ve gathered some memories from members of Toronto’s nightlife community who from time to time called this venue “home.” A calendar jam packed full of alternative club shows across the coming month at Velvet Underground brings promise to the thought that what this city enjoyed so much about The Hoxton will be coming to a new household just around the corner.
Thugli ~ DJs
“The Hoxton was an incredibly important place for the growth of Thugli. We went from opening up for acts when we were first getting our start, to our own headline shows. It became not only our favourite venue to play at in the city, but like a second home to us. Toronto won’t be the same without it, and it will be truly missed. So much love and thanks to all the staff who made it so special for us and everyone who attended.”
Jonathan C ~ Embrace [Promoting Partner/Management]
“Over the last almost 6 years there’s been a ton of incredible shows at The Hoxton. Some of today’s biggest names in electronic music played their first shows in North America or outside of their hometown cities at The Hoxton. I booked my friends The Chainsmokers there before they even had an agent, and today they just announced their North American Arena tour. I couldn’t be more proud of those dudes and it’s been amazing watching them go from “Soundcloud remix guys” to international pop stars. For me, those are the most exciting and memorable shows. A buzzing act’s first time in the market, seeing how crazy the response is, and knowing that the next time they come through Toronto it will be at a venue twice the size or maybe even an arena. They’d probably sneak over to The Hoxton after for an unannounced set because the vibe in the room and the fans it brings out are truly one of a kind.”
Alexander Alexeev ~ The Hoxton [In House Lighting/Sound]
“So today is a really sad, but at the same time a happy day for me. The Hoxton has been my home for the last 5 years and is the first and only venue I’ve worked at that has always felt like family – ALWAYS! The amount of talent that came through there; I don’t think any other venue can even come close to compare – Skrillex, Diplo, Disclosure, Snoop Dogg, and a million more … Fucking Kanye West! But for me, there is one thing that made the place special, and it’s not something easy to explain. There is something about the place that, for whatever the show was, the crowd was always LIVE. Pretty much every other venue I have worked at, it’s usually rare to get an event that the crowd was LIVE [in this way], but at The Hoxton it was like that every night! [It was] sooo special! I’m really gonna miss it. I can go on forever talking about it, but I’ll end with my top 3 shows.
3. Dec 30th 2013 Baauer VS RL Grime
2. Aug 3rd 2015 Skepta
1. Aug 6th 2012 Aloe Blacc (AMAZING)”
Brie McAuley ~ The Hoxton [Host]
“Working at The Hoxton connected me with some of my closest friends and created some of the best memories I have now. I was there every weekend and would get a natural high off of being in that environment. Some of the most stressful times I’ve worked in my life were at The Hoxton, but those moments made me learn the most about working in this industry. The Hoxton was more than just a venue; everyone that worked there was family. The Hoxton was a home away from home.”
The Hoxton ~ TheSuperManiak
Hydee ~ DJ/Promoter
“Love it or hate it, The Hoxton was a huge staple in Toronto for shows. I have so many memories of amazing bass parties that I played there, from headlining my own show to supporting acts like Flux Pavilion, Rusko, Figure, Kill The Noise, Feed Me, Sub Focus, and many more. It’s truly saddening to know The Hoxton won’t be around anymore, but I’m sure Embrace will have a next move and continue to push the music in the city of Toronto with other venues. Much love and respect to Embrace, The Hoxton and everyone else involved for letting Hydee share the stage over the years. it’s been nothing but an absolute pleasure and honour!”
Paul Goodman ~ The Hoxton [Promoter]
“The Hoxton was like that hot ex you could never get enough of. You would say you didn’t love her and complain about being in her presence, but at the end of the night you’d leave her house sweaty, hot and with a huge smile on your face. She was the one who got away. It’s sad to see such a big piece of Toronto disappear, but I have faith Embrace will make up for it.”
Shaun Frank ~ DJ/Producer
“The Hoxton will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s the first club I ever played at, and I’ve met so many amazing artists and people because of that place. My favourite memory would have to be the time that Shadow Child cancelled, and SNBRN & I jumped on the decks and ended up playing for 6 hours. At one point Jonathan C just locked the front doors of venue and started passing bottles around. Another funny memory is when I slipped on the mic, fell off the DJ booth and broke my rib….Glad that happened at The Hoxton.”
Diplo at The Hoxton ~ TheSuperManiak
Justin Bella ~ Promoter
“The Hoxton became my second home and I have nothing but fond memories there. The staff and security have always treated me well. It’s sad to see such an iconic place go – it will surely be missed.”
Maddmon ~ DJ/Producer
“Last year, around this time, I did a midnight set supporting Malaa at The Hoxton. The club was so packed! That was hands down the most insane crowd ever. I love the hype Toronto brings here. It’s unforgettable. My last set last weekend was just as memorable; so much energy, the soccer chants were lit. The best part is the support and having people come up to you after to talk. This place was very special and I am so grateful to be a part of it. I will miss it dearly.”
Steve Sosa ~ Embrace [Marketing]
“I feel that Embrace always did their best to bring solidified acts and upcoming artists to The Hoxton. They were always about the music first for the people attending and you can tell when you look at the poster of past acts. You’ll see all kinds of performers and genres of music that hit the stage.
As far as fondest memories go; I can’t just pick one, but the series of unannounced after-parties is definitely the best memory. There will never be another venue in Toronto where you would pay $15-30 cover and see artists like Skrillex, Diplo, Drake, The Chainsmokers, Flosstradamus, Dillon Francis, or Kanye West drop by unexpectedly to perform.”
Drake and Kanye West at The Hoxton ~ James Drobik
Cosella ~ DJ/Producer/Label Owner
“The Hoxton was a breeding ground for producers and DJs to come meet and catch up. Playing big set times there really built confidence in my music and myself as well. I owe a lot to The Hoxton and the whole team. Without that I wouldn’t of met Destructo and given him my music. I wouldn’t of played hard and then get asked to remix him. I can trail that all back to The Hoxton and the team.”
KRFW ~ DJs
“Our first time headlining The Hoxton for Solaris’ after party was insane in terms of energy on and off stage. Shiba San night was amazing having everyone grooving on the dancefloor. But it all came down to last weekend when we opened for Joyryde… The Hoxton showed true Toronto passion for music giving us a night we will never forget.”
Brandon Chung ~ Videographer
“The Hoxton is a place where so many careers and artists blew up. It was a deciding factor that brought so much to the city of Toronto and its people. It’s the end of an era, and we have so much to be thankful for.”
Autoerotique ~ DJ/Producer
“Aside from all the amazing parties and B2B’s that The Hoxton became notorious for – there will never be a venue more important for the emerging dance scene in Toronto. For the time it existed and in the location it was in – for the people it brought together and the artists who called it home – things won’t be the same.”
Skrillex at The Hoxton ~ James Drobik
Derek Andrew Chen AKA DeeCee ~ DJ/Producer
“Over the past few years, The Hoxton has made its mark as an institution in both the Canadian and of course Toronto electronic dance music community as a cutting edge platform for helping break up-and-coming artists and their sounds into the scene. It’s also become a mainstay of some the biggest artists with many of them finding their early beginnings behind the good ole black & yellow DJ booth on stage. My time at 69 Bathurst Street has definitely helped shape me as an artist and provided me with the opportunity to share the stage with some of my favourites, which I am truly grateful for. A special thanks goes out to Gill, Burton and Sosa for the continued support. RIP Hoxton.”
Adam Gill ~ Embrace CEO
“Embrace is always committed to bringing great artists to Toronto and The Hoxton was a place artists really loved playing. The Hoxton was always about the music, as it was never about the bottle service crowd, which is what the rest of the area is focused on. We wanted to create a place where people who came could really have a great time and leave their stressful weeks at the door and be in a safe place.
We were very lucky, as there were so many great nights, but all the Diplo nights were crazy, Skrillex, Zeds Dead, Dillon Francis, and Flosstramadus were lengendary. The Kayne West/Drake night was also insane, as was Travis Scott, Mac Demarco, Flume and Kaytranada.”
Feature image by James Drobik