When I first arrived at 160 Bartley Ave for Innerdance II the night of December 10th, 2016, the final bit of setup was still happening and sound checks were still taking place in the main room, so I took some time to familiarize myself with the venue. It was one of the most unique and comfortable spaces I have ever visited; I am constantly delighted and surprised by the secret gems of Toronto nightlife. The main room, including decor by Mr. Sun, was phenomenal; a tent-like atmosphere was achieved in the main room through an elaborately pieced-together construction of UV-sensitive hangings which enclosed the space.
The door leading out of the main room was labelled ‘Portal’, appropriately so, since the foyer-like space it opened into acted as a sound buffer between the main room and the Chill Out area. Actually, the amount of space, and it’s layout was one of the things I enjoyed most about this venue; there was a place to vibe at whatever intensity desired, from the energy at the front of the main stage, to the laid back chill out sounds, to the relative quiet found on any number of couches in the “buffer” area.
Downimalium opened up the night in the main room around 10:30PM, just as I was wrapping up my tour, with some low-tempo beats. There was a small crowd, as most people had still not arrived yet, however those present could not help but start moving to the rolling bass and psychedelic elements. Reading the dance floor, he matched the desired energy of the slow-building crowd and delivered a solid tempo build into solid full-on.
MagicMushroom picked up the rhythm and ran with it, continuing the energy and delving into alternately delicate and energetic soundscapes. Retaining the intensity of full on, the dance floor responded by stomping along to familiar tracks like Free Tibet by Hilight Tribe and Remixed by Vini Vici and Pop Art – Disco Madness. Around this time, arrivals started to pick up, and by the end of the set, the main room was comfortably full.
By the time Sara Dopstar hit the decks, the flow artists were in full creative swing, her music providing a perfect medium for releasing their powers on the dance floor. The space allowed for poi spinners and hoopers to participate, and one wall, lined with mirrors, provided an ideal place to spin and dance, as well as observe oneself for practice and improvement. As the venue filled, some of the more elaborately-costumed attendees began to show up, including one intrepid individual who circled the main room on stilts! Stephanie also arrived and added to the look of the crowd with her body-painting skills.
I took a break from the main stage to see the Chill Out area and the “buffer zone”, as I termed it. As I walked around, I noticed there was a food area/kitchen set up near the Chill Out area, and some of the couches had collected small groups of party-goers taking a break from the music and having conversations. The Chill Out area itself seemed like a loft. A ladder led up to it, where it perched above the area just inside the door, so that soft, easy-tempo music wafted down from above upon exiting or entering. Upstairs, there was a small dance floor – less than half the size of the main room – with couches lining the walls of the room. The exit was a twisted slide, and, when I used it to head back toward the main room, it momentarily made me feel like a kid at the playground again.
I made it back to the main room as the headliner, Ninesense, began his set. It was one of the most unique sounds of the night. The crystalline soundscapes he created blended with an almost watery sound, giving the impression of being underwater. Unfortunately, a little ways into this musical journey, some technical difficulties were experienced with the speakers. Ninesense kept going strong though, and after while, through dedicated efforts, a good portion of the bass was recovered.
Atheria followed Ninesense with some of his signature dark forest sound. Turning up the tempo with some growling bass and other ambient sounds, the forest echoes and descending bell tones induced a deeper, wilder sound. Occasionally dropping into some glitchy and techy-sounding segments, the overall atmosphere was a primal one, driven by bass and dancers all stomping.
As Atheria’s set was ending, one of the hoopers I had been talking to informed me that his friend, Transisco, was on next and warned me that the energy would pick up. Since I had never heard Transisco before, I maintained an open mind – but I did not need long to be convinced that my new friend was absolutely right. This talented DJ somehow took the tired feeling that had been building as people danced their way through the headliner sets and threw it to the wind with some incredibly dancy progressive beats. Transisco brought new fire to the dance floor, reviving the bright energy and shaking off the ambient forest leftovers with the clear tones and deep, driving basslines of a full-on night. This was one of my favourite sets of the night, and definitely the one that most took me by surprise. I hope to see Transisco at more events!
About halfway into the last set, which finally began to wind down the night, I decided it would be smart to go a bit early; I was hoping to beat the rush to exit. With Transisco still going strong, I began to say my goodbyes and take my leave of Innerdance and Bartley. Bittersweetly, I bid farewell to an amazing night of music and connection; exactly what Innerdance has come to mean for me. Mentis leaves its indelible mark through its work creating amazing events; they successfully created a ‘meeting of minds’ through music, culture, dance and friendship, once again successfully entrancing and entertaining the Toronto Psy community. Their next event, Innerdance III, will take place on January 21st, 2016, so for those who loved this event, or are now intrigued by my review, I suggest you mark your calendars and check out the official event page here.
See you on the dance floor!
NineSense (Manipulation) USA
Jade – EDM TOR