Over two months ago, Calgary’s largest venue for electronic dance music was unceremoniously closed after facing a variety of licensing problems.
The Warehouse, which was Calgary’s most reliable dance venue for 26 years, had its liquor license revoked, which started a chain of events that led to the club permanently closing its doors on Jan. 28.
There would often be a line in the darkened back alley that led into the club. As soon as you got inside the entrance corridor, you were welcomed with the smell of sweat and the soft blue neon lights.
DJs Scott Mills, known as Paradigm Theorem, (left) and Alex Carlson, known as Freddy J, want to revive the Calgary dance scene.
Photo: Steve Waldner/Calgary Journal
After purchasing a ticket for the night, a small walk down the corridor would lead to the main room of the Warehouse, which was quite true to its name—it was one, large room with a bar on one side and a stage on the other.
For 26 years’ worth of weekends, this room was the epicenter of the dance scene in Calgary, which is known for its electronically synthesized and energetic music.
With the closure of the club, many people who were a part of the dance music scene are without a place to go. However, the death of the Warehouse has placed the task of keeping Calgary’s dance scene alive into the hands of a new generation of DJs and entrepreneurs.
Scott Mills, who goes by the stage name Paradigm Theorem, is one of the individuals who has taken it upon himself to not only sustain the dance scene in Calgary, but to make it grow.
“Though we all appreciate (the Warehouse) and miss it, I’ve been preaching that it might be the catalyst that we have to use,” Mills said.
Mills founded an entertainment and production company, Sound Advice, for this very purpose. The company organizes and provides the entertainment for parties and other occasions that require music. Although there are other companies in Calgary that offer the same services, Mills says Sound Advice has a goal other than making money.
“I really want to get Calgary back in the attitude to dance,” Mills said. “My drive is to see Calgary get back on its feet for a thriving dance culture. One of my favourite things to do is to introduce the type of music I do and we do to new people.”
Mills says that the best way to get people excited about the music is to make sure the DJs playing the shows have a positive attitude, and are passionate about the music. “I feel that music is a direct extension of someone’s soul,” Mills said.
“When someone comes up to me with the most positive attitude, I’ve noticed when they get good at DJing their music tends to stand out,” he said.
To this end, Sound Advice is trying to get its name out there in many different ways. On their website, www.soundadvicenightlife.com, they have forums, bios of the DJs in Sound Advice, as well as MP3s of various mixes they have made.
Cody Freele, who goes by the stage name Sonny Chiba and is one of the DJs in the Sound Advice crew, was given a fantastic chance to get electronic music exposed to Calgary by being given the reins over the music played on the runways of Alberta Fashion Week, as well as the music for the after-parties.
“The beauty about what I play is its open to everyone. I play everything from electro to disco, funk, house, breaks,” Freele said. “With my sound I didn’t have to alter what I had to play.”
Although the closure of the Warehouse has removed one of the main venues for electronic dance music, Jeremy Bridge, president of the event company PK, says Calgary’s dance scene is doing just fine.
“My drive is to see Calgary get back on its feet for a thriving
“The dance scene is much different than it was 10 years ago, that’s for sure,” Bridge said. “It’s evolved into more of a mature crowd, a more club-going crowd. Dance culture took a bit of a dip a few years ago, but it’s coming back now — there’s some new music, and its brought some life back into the culture.”
The focus is starting to shift away from small venues to the larger music festivals, like Shambhala, a yearly electronic music festival in British Columbia, Bridge said. There was even an electronic dance event this January put on by PK in Olympic Plaza, which roughly 3,500 people attended.
However, there are also a number of small club nights scattered across the city where electronic dance music is played, he said.
One such club night, put on by Sound Advice, is hosted at Sam’s in Kensington every Saturday. The bar is essentially split in half, with one half being a dark dance area complete with DJs and laser, and the other remaining a pub where people can sit, talk, or play pool.
The club nights are starting to become quite popular, said Emily Voyce, who has been going to the events for a while.
“The word is slowly getting out. It’s always nice to see more friendly new faces out, it just seems to attract good people,” said Voyce. “The music you find everywhere else is a little too fast or a little too hard, you can’t sit back and enjoy, you either have to dance or you just want to leave.”
They also bring in guest DJs from out of town for these events, as well as handing out free mixes by Sound Advice DJs in order to keep spreading the beat of dance music.
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