Saturday, June 1, 2013 brought us the Canadian debut of Sensation, presented by Bud Light. The buzz around this event began a few months prior, when exclusive invite-only parties became the talk of the town. The PR and marketing firms behind Sensation painted a picture of an incredible Ocean of White production that would blow us out of the water. We didn’t know what it was going to look like, we had no indication of the line-up, but we knew something huge was brewing and we knew we weren’t going to miss it.
As we crept closer to the date, curiosity piqued – tickets were selling fast but no one really knew what was coming. Skeptical dance music fans jumped on board for fear of missing out. Even those not familiar with the dance scene were wondering what Sensation was, should they be buying tickets as well?
Sure enough, as the date approached it became clear what was about to happen – the massive dance music event that has taken the rest of the world by storm was finally going to land in Toronto. It was our turn to see what over 1.5million people around the world had the privilege of experiencing. The 26th Ocean of White event was going to take place at the Rogers Centre with a lineup of ferocious DJs. It was going to be a sensory experience that would grab us by the mind, the body, and the heart. Something that has been in the works for almost three years was finally about to unveil.
And boy, were we ready.
Dressed in white from head to toe (as a requirement of admission to the event), thousands upon thousands of eager patrons surrounded and slowly entered the Rogers Centre as the doors opened at 6pm. The first act, Mr. White was not due to start until 8:15pm, but there was no way these people would miss their chance to snag a great spot on the massive dancefloor.
As people filtered in, the buzz grew louder and a mellow dance beat played in the background. Minutes after 8pm, the countdown to Sensation began. Finally, 8:15pm hit and Mr. White, Sensation resident, took over the decks. The venue was not completely packed at this point, but over the course of the hour the empty spaces and VIP booths filled in nicely. To get the crowd revved up. Mr. White played a smooth selection of big room techno and tech house sounds. The eager crowed swayed to techno beats produced by Romanthony and Jay Lumen, just to name a few. By the end of Mr. White’s set the venue was packed and the crowd was ready to dive head first into oblivion with Amsterdam-based DJ, 2000 And One.
With a tremendous intro, 2000 And One continued to carry the tech sound deep into this set. Opening with Brooklyn’s Groovebox, and easing into Mark Knight’s Your Love, we were certainly in for a tech treat. As the dance floor was moving and shaking to the sounds of Prok & Fitch, Lazy Rich, and more Jay Lumen, I sat back and took it all in. Not being very familiar with 2000 And One, I was immediately impressed with his track selection, seamless mixing and level of energy on stage. You didn’t have to be in the centre of the crowd in order to be wrapped up in the palm of this DJ’s hands – the music led us on a journey into the ocean of white that had become the Rogers Centre.
Promptly at 10pm, Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano took over, beginning their set with Joe Brunning’s Now Let Me See You Work. With this change of pace in the music, the crowd seemed to burst with more energy and excitement. The dynamic duo behind the decks where simply on fire, bringing us high-energy electro, progressive, and tribal house that penetrated through the Rogers Centre and resonated in the ears of 30,000 people. The enourmous jellyfish attached to the ceiling began to lower as we danced to Black Science Orchestra’s Save Us (Mark Knight Rulin’ Remix), People from Ibiza by David Amo, Julio Navas and Mar T, and Beachball by Nalin and Kane, just to name a few. Halfway through, we entered into sensory overload as the beautiful beats kept play, and “The Mix” began. This was a production of pyro wheels, confetti, laser beams and pyrowaves all in a matter of five minutes. With fountains blasting from the stage, and jellyfish lowering from the ceiling, I realized that this was what Sensation was all about. A visual mecca, an audio thrill, and a place where my feet wouldn’t stop moving.
After revving us up nicely, Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano passed the baton to Fedde Le Grand, who brought a unique sound to the stage. His track selection was slightly on the funkier side, opening with Daft Punk’s Get Lucky. Spending time observing the crowd, I noticed the hardcore jumping and dancing had turned back into head bobs and sways, but that could have simply implied the audience was in recovery mode from the previous set. Regardless, Fedde owned his spot on stage. He brought us a variety of tracks like Jewelz & Scott Sparks’ Flashbang, Dzarlight (Fedde Le Grand & Deniz Koyu Remix) by Digitalism, a rendition of Benny B’s Satisfaction, and Fatboy Slim’s What The F*ck. By the end of the set the crowd had found its groove and was ready, with arms and minds wide open, for the one and only Eric Prydz.
One of the most anticipated acts of the night, Prydz opened with Everyday. Not surprising as we know he tends to play many of his own tracks. The opening was perfect. The familiarity of the sound touched the hearts of the crowd who couldn’t be more ready for this moment. People were shouting the lyrics, hands in the air, smiles from cheek to cheek as the overwhelming pyro show that accompanied Prydz’s entrance simmered down. We were taken into a Prydz utopia with tracks like 2night, Powerdrive and Prydz’s own remix of Faithless’ Not Going Home. Prydz delivered a solid set that was accompanied by extravagant fountain effects where sensual dancers moved seductively in the shooting water. Men and women alike had their eyes fixated on the entire production. This. This was what Sensation was all about.
The last performance of the night hit the stage at approximately 1:45am. Otto Knows brought back a more electro sound to leave us with a final taste of high energy, power tracks that got everyone on their feet. Banging to the beat of Axwell, Hard Rock Sofa and Otto Knows, we were left savoring the final hour, knowing it would soon come to an end. Even though the crowd began to filter out, standing on the dance floor, one was still engulfed in the Ocean of White. Finally, when this set came to an end, the MC Gee who had been playing with the crowd throughout the entire production asked if we’d like one more track. Tens of thousands of Torontonians screamed for more and Otto Knows finished it off with Swedish House Mafia’s Don’t You Worry Child. And then it was done. As we were filtering out, MC Gee asked if we’d like to see Sensation again, the answer was hell yes.
By the end of the night it was clear to see – the work of 1,000 crew members, the sound of 160 sound cabins, the effects of 13,700 gallons of water, the 400 300-watt bulbs that lit up the night, and the 700 flare pyroart fountains all came together to bring something to the Rogers Centre that we have never seen before. Bud Light presents Sensation, the Ocean of White, was a fantastic production and sensory experience. As quoted by a member of the Toronto Rave Community Facebook page the next day, if you didn’t go “you f*cked up”. Hopefully you’ll get another chance sometime soon.
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