rave toronto

The top 10 documentaries about the Toronto rave scene

The top documentaries about the Toronto rave scene will let you in on one of Toronto's largest subcultures. From Marcus Visionary to DeadMau5, Toronto's known for liking its electronic music rough and dirty. The history of Toronto's bright and vibrant underground rave scene, however, has seen its share of rise and falls.

To get up to speed, here are my picks for the top documentaries about the Toronto rave scene.

iDANCE
After the 1999 death of U of T student, Allen Ho, Toronto moved to ban all raves. In the eye of the storm, a youth collective formed the Party People Project to fight back. Watch Olivia Chow defends ravers' rights to dance at a rave/protest. Watch part two here

Pounding to a New Beat
Fabled to be an experimental doc made by a couple of unknown Sheridan College (or Ryerson) students in '92. The gritty VHS footage's from the Sykosis Mix-Off at the Latvian Centre on College Street is Toronto EDM lore. It features legends of the Toronto scene; DJs Dr. No, Mark Oliver and Marcus Visionary.

OldSkool
The Lost Arc of Toronto rave underground cinema, OldSkool is a rare and raw 7 minutes doc locally made in '92 or '93 about the architects who began and built Toronto's underground, including a young Marcus Visionary. If you can get your hands on this film, share it, please. It's a gem.

Digital Dance Nation
Another blast from Betamax past that's packed with typical 90's Richard Kern-esque avant-garde stock footage, MTV jump cuts, and riot grrrl haircuts, like Pounding to a New Beat but complete with interviews and insights into the electronic circuit. If you're a boomer of the 90's, DDN is a heavy nostalgic trip.

Make Some F*cking Noise: The World of Free Tekno Toronto
A radical short York U doc following Tdot's breaking in party movement in early 2000's. Watch party promoters scale walls of abandoned buildings at the dead of night in order to throw the city's clandestine parties. Promise, Freespace Collective, SMERK, Subtransit spin their thoughts on the philosophy behind the movement and about "going free."

Pleasure Force Toronto Rave Dark Side '93
A fly-on-the-wall street style doc from Toronto's Pleasure Force rave back in '93.
The grainy camcorder follows the shows' crew getting set-up, sound checking with artists and footages of each PA. Like watching a Lynchian experimental film, the camera keeps voyeuristically recording, jumping between shots as muffled voices are inaudibly recorded.

Introducing The Rave
A well-put together TVO piece 20 years ago with DJs, including a young Mark Oliver, and organizers crystal clear insight into dance, music and drugs. It follows partygoers flocking toward an outdoor rave by Pleasure Force Productions.

Hullabaloo: A Raving Chronicle
Legal and logistic battles after Allen Ho's death seemed to spell the end of Toronto's infamously popular rave promoter, Hullabaloo (or "Hulla"). When Hulla closed its doors it signaled the end of Toronto's Happy Hardcore era.

Anabolic Frolic Hullabaloo Rave Experience
A rave/love letter DVD to the fans. London's cockney accent MC Storm storms fans and DJs for interviews at the Opera House. With acts like Silver1, Elixir, D-Minus and Anabolic Frolic the party didn't stop until 5AM.

Digital Dreams Toronto
Vice's sexy look into Digital Dreams, Canada's largest EDM party, the history of the scene; from dive to dreams, the mainstream direction its heading, condo culture, the economy and the closing of Industry nightclub, The Hoxton and Footwork.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

"The New Music" Toronto Jungle / Drum & Bass TV Special
CityTV's The New Music in 1998 profiles Toronto's DnB scene with interviews featuring Toronto junglists, like DJs Sniper, Mystical, Marcus Visionary, Dave Whalen and more.

"28:48" (Toronto rave TV segment)
In this 1993 segment, the show, 28:48, takes a look into the Nitrous Rave of 1993, including an interview with Dr. Trance exhibiting his halluncinatorium light goggles.

What did I miss? Add your suggestions for documentaries about the Toronto rave scene in the comments.

Writing by Trent Lee. Photo of Digital Dreams by Brian Morton.


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