For those who didn’t know…
Olivia Chow helped save Toronto’s electronic music scene. Fourteen years ago, on August 1, 2000, Olivia and the iDance Rally convinced city council to overturn its ban on electronic music events on city properties.
Months prior, in response to deaths linked to underground parties, Toronto police chief Julian Fantino and Mayor Mel Lastman declared a “war on raves.” Using fear mongering tactics, they convinced city council to ban late night gatherings on city property featuring electronic music, which they could only define as repetitive music having at least 120 BPM. Olivia was the only city councillor who not only recognized the folly of banning a movement that was not yet understood, but was willing to do something about it. She managed to insert an amendment into the council decision requiring the ban to be reconsidered, in three months time, on August 1, 2000.
Olivia took the time to learn about our city’s electronic music scene. After meeting with promoters, artists and community members, she recognized the cultural value as well as the economic impact electronic music has on Toronto, including tourism, fashion and many other industries. As a result, Olivia chose to support the grassroots organizers in the scene and the Party People Project to organize and reverse the ban and promote a sustainable vision for electronic music events in the city.
Olivia worked with leaders in the rave community to organize a rally against the ban at the doorstep of city hall on August 1, 2000, and thus the iDance Rally was born. Olivia also created the Toronto Dance Safety Committee, consisting of rave promoters, community members and members of the Public Health Board. This included a set of rules to be followed by promoters to make parties safer in all communities that host major events. This led to further recognition and support from Caribana and activists within the gay and lesbian community, groups that had faced similar profiling issues in the past. Most importantly, she helped educate the media, politicians and the public about the positive nature of electronic music and rave culture.
The iDance Rally was promoted not just as a political event, but as the party of the year, and boasted what is to this day one of the most impressive gatherings of DJ talent that our city has ever seen. Drawing a crowd of 20,000, making it the largest rally of its kind in Toronto’s history, the iDance Rally and the grassroots campaign succeeded in overturning the city council ban by an overwhelming vote of 50 – 4.
Had it not been for Olivia’s progressive thinking, creativity and ability to work with the community and get all sides working together, our city’s electronic music scene would have been crushed by the ban. Today’s EDM promoters, DJs and followers owe Olivia a debt of gratitude.
On this, the fourteenth anniversary of the iDance Rally, we express our thanks to Olivia Chow. Please pass this on to anyone that may fondly remember, or who may be interested in learning about, this important time in our scene’s history.
This letter was conceived of and drafted by a group of people who represent past members of the iDance Rally organizers, The Party People Project, Toronto Dance Safety Committee as well as current promoters and community members who want to thank Olivia for her commitment and dedication to supporting and protecting electronic music in the city.
Aaron Micks of Dose Productions, Lifeforce Industries, Syrous and Turbo Nightclub
Adam Gill of Embrace
Adam K of Hotbox Digital
alexd of the iDance Organizing Committee / TRIBE - tribe.ca
Boreal Canoe Trips
Box of Kittens
Chris & Robin Frolic of Hullabaloo! Promotions
Cody Blanchard of Toronto Rave Community (TRC)
Dave and Irving of Promise
Don Berns a.k.a. Dr. Trance
James A, The Communic8r
Jeremy K and Alex M of Platform Entertainment
Jesse Brown of Destiny Events / Projek
Mat Lunnen of Hustlin', Solma
Pablo J (DJ Spinz) of Soul In Motion / SpinzCycle.com
Ryan Kruger of Destiny Events / Electronic Nation
Stephan Philion and Joel Smye of Coda Nightclub
Steve Mealing of Dose Productions, Lifeforce Industries, Syrous and Turbo Nightclub
Steve Richman of Suma and Om Reunion Project
Tyler Cho of the iDance Organizing Committee, Lifeforce Industries and Turbo Nightclub
Will Chang of the iDance Organizing Committee