• Hi Guest: Welcome to TRIBE, the online home of TRIBE MAGAZINE. If you'd like to post here, or reply to existing posts on TRIBE, you first have to register. Join us!

here's another good article - Montreal Mirror 1999

jocelyn dee

TRIBE Promoter
Ecstasy, pedophilia, suicide and poo
>>The underside of Toronto's raving history
Given the recent police/governmental problems in the Toronto rave scene, we thought it entirely appropriate to include an excerpt from the Toronto chapter of former Mirror music editor Mireille Silcott's hot-off-the-presses book, Rave America: New School Dancescapes. Besides, we got it for free. And she made us do it. Anyway, the excerpt shows Toronto at its highest raving hour, the era after the kiddie circuses of the early scene, just before the grand corporatization of the T.O. nightworld. Toronto parents, do you know where your kids are?

Exclusive book excerpt from Rave America: New School Dancescapes, by Mireille Silcott (ECW Press, 1999)

As 1993 progressed, many Toronto rave promoters found themselves being edged out by a new company called Pleasure Force. With Pleasure Force at the helm, Toronto's rave scene changed dramatically: as it had in the U.K., rave went rough and dark, not only in terms of sound but also structure and vibe. It's hard to say whether Toronto rave had simply come to the same kind of crisis as its British counterpart--only in a more condensed time frame--or if the Ecstasy "two-year honeymoon" rule applies here. It's also possible that the city had achieved some kind of weird synchronicity with Britain.

"It was a dramatic turn: one day happy-happy, the next day very edgy and frightening," says Beverly May, publisher of Toronto-based techno 'zine Transcendence. "At Pleasure Force raves, you knew there was weird shit going on. You would see these people doing coke lines off tables and little kiddies on crystal meth hobnobbing with people in their late twenties. It was rotten by anyone's count. It was a place where you could do anything, and there were people there doing pretty much that. I thought it was vile."

Pleasure Force was primarily the concept of a thirtysomething Englishman named Alan Stevenson and a Canadian who had jumped ship from Nitrous named Mike Stein. Stevenson was also the owner of X-Static, an enormously successful shop off Toronto's fashionable Queen Street. X-Static was like a rave lifestyle centre, selling tickets for parties, clothing (orange boiler-suits, phat pants), rave accessories (glo-sticks, whistles, record bags), a bit of vinyl and a massive selection of DJ mix tapes (often bootlegged). Stevenson was believed to have extensive underworld connections, but he could be extremely benevolent with "the kids." He'd often lend younger local DJs the money to duplicate their latest mix tapes for X-Static, and he was a benefactor to those who wanted to design ravey clothing or accessories.

"He had an empire, down to the drugs," alleges Toronto jungle DJ Sniper. "Alan was even bringing the rave drugs in. He was [smuggling] E inside the [imported] mix tapes being sent to X-Static. Whoever was sending the tapes would take out some of the tape reels, and fill the shells with E, and then seal the tapes up again, and send 'em to X-Static. That's how Alan was getting pills into the country. Like, how insane is that?"

Enter Darkside

Stevenson's Pleasure Force called one of its first parties Darkside. The drugs at the party were appropriately horrid. "I remember these purple E's going around that party. Nasty!" says John E, who was both resident DJ and a partner in Pleasure Force. "People were tripping way too hard! It was really dark, like in England." Pleasure Force organizers would never leave any party unaccompanied, says John E. "There was lots of money and lots of sketchy business. When we [the promoters] went home, we'd go in pairs and have a security guard with us. One night, we broke that rule, and the cash went home with one partner alone. We agreed that we'd divide it all in the morning. This guy then called half an hour later and said he'd been robbed. Things were so fucked that we didn't know if he stole it and was lying or if his story was legit. And he was a Pleasure Force partner."

The Pleasure Force raves would regularly lure over five thousand people, a big jump from [earlier Toronto rave promoter] Alex Clive's crowds of fifteen hundred only a couple of years before. The Pleasure Force crowd was notoriously young. Cocaine and strong speed like metamphetamine had worked their way into their circle. Ravers would stack meth over their Ecstasy and would often use other drugs like Valium, to come down at the end of the night. "Pleasure Forces were mega-hardass--so huge, and so bad. Every corner you turned there would be some guy: 'E, speed, E, speed, coke.' I was 17 at the time and loving it, fucked on crystal meth and E, living for the Pleasure Force parties," says Andrew C., now a political science student at a university in a major Canadian city.

"I remember this one party. I was cruising around, high as a fucking kite," continues Andrew, "and I saw a filthy girl sitting balled up in a corner. She was crying--she was on crappy E and she had soiled herself [defecated]. She must have been about 16. Anyway, I took her in the bathroom. The bass was going beuurm-beuurm-beuurm, shaking all the stalls, and there were a buncha guys in there cursin 'coz they had put their lines down on the sink surface and it was wet and their blow had instantly turned to mush.

"Anyway, I cleaned the girl up and then propped her up by the sinks, and I went to pee. When I came out, she was, like, practically fucking some other dirty rave kid in the corner of the bathroom--in front of everyone, no one cared... it was all so sketchy."

Scene left hanging

The dark Pleasure Force aura soon caught up with the promoters. Stevenson was forced to leave Canada in 1995, and the parties and X-Static were shut down soon after that. While investigating Stevenson for drugs, the police were rumored to have found child-pornography magazines and video cassettes in his possession. "It's said that the police actually found videotapes of Alan with these little ravers," says Beverly May, who believes that Stevenson was a closet homosexual, tortured by his impulses. "Alan's brother Amon came in to take over X-Static and Pleasure Force. Amon had no clue what he was getting into."

In 1995, Amon Stevenson hung himself. Some Toronto ravers still wonder if the death really was a suicide, or if Amon had been murdered by some of his brother's former business associates in a "settling of accounts." "I had started distancing myself from Pleasure Force long before then," says John E. "When the shit hit the fan, I took a one-eighty and looked the other way... Everybody did."

Rave America: New School Dancescapes (ECW Press; $16.95) is being launched at Laika, from 5-10pm, on Friday, November 19. Luc Raymond and Double A & Twist DJ. Free cucumber


Staff member
mireille wrote the Montreal column for TRIBE from 94-95 - thats how she got her start in writing.

Many thought the book sucked.