To say that Toronto isn’t brimming with international hard dance bookings is an understatement. A couple years back, the bassy high-bpm genre known for its trancey melodies looked to be on a rise, but eventually failed to break through to the mainstream dance music market dominated by big room house and other highly popular sub genres. While this maximum-octane genre is thriving in markets like Canada’s West Coast, Toronto failed to embrace and fully adopt the European phenomenon. Fast forward to the winter of 2016 – things are on the upswing for hard dance in The 6ix.
Electric Escape, a brand new company throwing large scale trance parties in Toronto, are on track to bring their first installment of hardstyle acts to REBEL nightclub this season. At the end of the summer, Electric Escape booked their magna opus show Escape 138 to the recently renovated venue. For round two on December 23rd, the team embark on diversifying the genres offered by adding American hardstyle producer Sylence to their second stage for Escape Together, Purple Room. The idea headed by 15+ year industry veteran Stanley Ho of Solid Events(the same brand that has been a driving force of the hard dance movement in Western Canada) alongside Derek, Mike, Jolo and Pee, is hoping to further grow the hard dance scene similar to the trance scene in Toronto with their brand.
Brennan Heart at Insomnia – Vancouver – by Will Selviz
“It is about pushing the boundaries and working with the community. Solid Events has been establishing a strong hardstyle presence on the west coast of Canada for almost over 5 years. Benjamin Shir, Mike Shir and I could safely say that we are one of the pioneers of bringing this sound to Canada,” says Stanley.
Earlier this year, Solid organized Insomnia, a massive Victoria Day Long Weekend “EDM” event at Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum, a venue with a 6,500-head floor space and a 15,000+ cap. The show was closed out by one of the most current and chart-topping hardstyle acts, Brennan Heart. “The majority of our hardstyle events sell out and all our arena shows always have a hardstyle element. Building the hard dance scene did not come overnight as it took a lot of commitment and continuous experimentation. In general, the Hardstyle scene seems to be strong on the west coast due to the amount of high calibre hard dance events as well as continuous support from the hardstyle community.”
As mentioned, the large part of the success of Solid has been by working with the Hardstyle community. Enthusiastic hardstyle fans such as Cody Dimitrijevic who created the Hardstyle Vancouver group help to create solitude within the genre’s regional community. Stanley notes that relationships with devoted fans like Dimitijevic have led to further growth of their brand and the popularity of that type of music in Vancouver. Stanley and company at Electric Escape aim to emulate that enthusiasm, allowing fans opportunities discuss the music as well as create awareness.
“Partnering up with Hardstyle Toronto seems to be the ideal fit as it has worked in Vancouver. We decided to give it a try at Escape Together in the Purple Room after several discussions with Adam Kendrick (aka DJ Damo), who co-founded Hardstyle Toronto. Hardstyle Toronto was originally made to cater to the harder sound community in the GTA early 2009 – a group of friends who decided to just start putting on hardstyle and hard dance shows since they didnt feel anyone was really providing options.”
As a result, the newly-founded Toronto brand hope all attendees who plan to come to Escape Together on the 23rd bring an open-mind. “We believe there is a bigger hardstyle community in Toronto than Western Canada. We hope Toronto’s hard dance community could come out to support and prove to Canada that it is the hard dance capital that we believe it to be. It just hasn’t been harvested to its full potential and Electric Escape hope to step up to the challenge in 2017.”
Feature image by Will Selviz