Denise Benson - A Love Letter of Sorts

My friend Heather Lash falls in love easily, it's true... but her love for Denise Benson is for keeps and the joy she experiences through this connection must be shared. Enjoy...

Denise Benson

This is a love letter of sorts - and a thank you letter too, I suppose. It's just that something struck me on a dance floor a while back, and the emotional impression was so strong that it has stayed with me since, causing me to think every few days; I really should write that little piece about Denise Benson.

If you check out, you'll read that this tremendously knowledgeable and influential DJ and writer has been "working hard to connect with diverse audiences" for many years now. The experience I'll tell you about bears witness to just that.

Now, I've been digging what this lady spins ever since I moved to Toronto as a much younger person,,and, fuelled by anxiety and bravado, started clubbing in the big city. At the Boom Boom Room, and especially at Catch-22, I would somehow feel included by this DJ and subsequently somehow cooler. Precisely the right prescription for a young feminist trying to enter adulthood in a way that made sense...

Fast-forward many years. To my infant son in our kitchen, experimenting with solid food, smushing oatmeal, and me dancing around him like a naked lunatic to Denise Benson's Synchro Fridays sampler, and both of us laughing with so much joy. It's perfect baby music, and it will be a primal, basic memory for him the way the Beatles is for me.

Okay, okay, sorry; here's what struck me on the dance floor. It was the Savour party at Andy Pool Hall. And I was staring at the DJ under discussion, and gazing back, at people's faces, and over their heads, at the low ceiling of the bar, and I suddenly had the perception that it was all just like a rec room. That we were in some kid's basement and she, perhaps with her older sister's help, had decorated it to look like a club, that all clubs are just decorated to look like clubs. That what is really going on is some kids arrange a party and others go to it.

Granted, in the current capitalist configuration of our culture, the kids setting it up stand to make a great deal of cash. And in its current misogynist configuration, the party can feel kind of jungly with frat boy/Bay Street predators. But never before has the innocence of human beings - our obvious, clumsy search for fun, and desire to be social about it - been so visible to me at a club (without being high). And this was largely due to the friendly, easy vibe emanating from the speakers, and from the front of the room. Someone should write a thesis comparing her to big penis-star DJs in furs and sunglasses.

It would start: Denise Benson, the sweetest balance of hard and smooth, represents in the history of Canadian DJs the moment the beat drops. It surprises you with its precision ("how did that DJ know what would get down into my lowest chakras just then?"), and it brings you up, too, back to your truest self.

Heather Lash

photo of Denise Benson Š

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