beam me up disco party toronto

The guys behind Toronto's best monthly disco party

A lot of friends like the same kind of music. Many of those friends end up playing tunes at parties for friends and some brave ones eventually end up throwing bigger parties in bars.

Only a select few however, keep the party going, growing their common love for music and making people dance into a phenomenon.

I've written about a handful of these courageous pairs and posses, but few of them are as dedicated and odd as A Digital Needle.

Dylan-Thomas Childs and John Michael McLeod started their disco party Beam Me Up! four years ago alongside Cyclist and have been growing better, faster, stronger ever since.

"We're just a couple weirdos who can play what we really want to play," Childs says. It may sound like a simple statement, but it's a powerful one in the Toronto party world.

Hustling to a point where people come to dance to a specific genre of music, running the risk of hearing no hits is a big deal. There won't be any Rihanna remixes at a Beam Me Up! bash, but you'll hear something just as soulful, current sounding and dancefloor-turn-up inducing.

"We met when we were 12 in Port Dover," McLeod says. "I disliked Dylan because he got all the girls cause he had a faux hawk and highlights."

But after a few phases of wavering friendship, things solidified when they both lived in Toronto together.

"We didn't really find anywhere we wanted to dance," Childs says. "But honestly we probably weren't searching that hard," McCleod adds. To be clear, these two literally finish their own sentences, and tell stories about the other person's lives like they're conjoined twins. There's a very special bond.

"We eventually started our own party at at place called Jimmy's Place, which was an Albanian dive bar," McLeod says. A few holes on the dancefloor and some questionable characters later, they left to play with DJ Mark Holmes at the Mod Club Mod. This is where everything clicked.

"I had Rod Stewart hair, I was a wild peacock of man wearing winklepickers and crushed velvet," Childs, who is indeed a very well dressed man says. "I dressed John from my wardrobe and he would always look way better than me.

"We were part of the resurrection of the Mod Club Parties," he continues. "Then we moved to Tattoo Rock Parlour where John got fired from his own party for playing disco."

"I got tired of playing '60s soul hits," McLeod slips in. "They wanted the same Motown hits, the same Beatles songs sometimes twice in one night!"

"Then John started playing the Olympic Runners' 'The Bitch,'" Childs says.

They threw a few more parties, had bottles thrown at them inside the Velvet Underground as they worked through their spinning style, and eventually decided to red light the mod, soul stuff.

It's when John took a trip to Montreal and was blown away by a dreamlike party called Disco Style that their style took shape. Introduced by a longtime musical mentor Michael Chapman, it was a sweaty revelation where people actually danced and lived their lives on the dancefloor.

"John came back and said we gotta listen to disco and we did," Childs says. "We're now avid fans."

Fast forward through parties with DJ pals Ty and Branco, the boys were eventually ready to set out on their own at The Piston and haven't stopped for four years. Cyclist, aka Mark Penner joined to create a trio after loving the party and its fearlessness in sometimes playing eight-minute edits.

"Sometimes I play a 15 minute version of 'I'm a Man'," McLeod says giddily.

"The music we're drawn to has soul in it," Childs says. "That's something we always loved.
Disco has that."

"It's a good mix of something to dance to, but something for your soul," McLeod adds.

"It's crossed over genres, countries, cultures ... there's nothing like and it's the roots of dance music," Childs says. "There'd be no house, techno or modern EDM if not for disco. It's the best music to dance to and we still find new disco all the time."

Influenced by fellow DJ teams like Members Only with some help from Daft Punk's Random Access Memories and the latest rise in EDM means the crowd is constantly evolving.

"We're so lucky to have a crowd at our parties that are there because they want to dance," McLeod says. "They can get drunk and pick up, but there's a core there," Dylan finishes.

The crowd and deeply dug, selected, curated, and traded music is what makes up this party that stemmed from avoiding the norm.

"The parties are about getting high on the music," McLeod says. Like the song that influenced the name of the party by Brooklyn's Midnight Magic, it's modern, but beautifully rooted in the past.

"Sounding old and classic, but still new and fresh," Childs says.

Catch Beam Me Up!'s 4 year birthday bash at September 10 at The Piston with Childs, McLeod, Cyclist and annual special guests Tommy D and visual artist Doc Dynamite. Photo from the Beam Me Up Facebook page.

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