Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Bacardi Live Does Toronto

(Photo from Oct on Flickr)

Bacardi rolled out one of those massive B-Live parties in Toronto last weekend. The city's cultural weeklies were lolling in full page advertisements for the event featuring Diplo and James Murphy for weeks now, so the inevitable mental queues languished in the Fall cold, snaking around the block for what seemed like a kilometre, slowly inching towards the arch of lights that signaled the entrance.

Silver and gold hand bag wielding American Apparel devotees dived out of taxis and rushed head forwards in packs to the front of the cue, a taster of the sort of casual disregard that leads to drinks being splashed around as they rush through crowds, surprised they don't part at their feet.

Queen West kids circled in their club kid cliques, some jaw chawing and all in ridiculous levels of style one after the other - recycled synthetic '80's fashions that lay ignored in now ravaged vintage stores for years and old-skool Nike's de rigor in a pantomime of glam and new rave kitsch cross bred with stateside hip hop and some damn clever use of the high street. If you never had a complex about body image and presentation of the self, then Toronto is the city to come to in order to pick one up.

Savvy to the blag I'd emailed in a competition on some website to win free tickets that allowed me to skip the queues outside to get in before eleven, battling through the line still led to rough greetings from over worked security and list checkers. They tried compelling the two of us to the back of the queue but our insistence prevailed. Their recognition of upsetting a Bacardi competition on the eve of a branding fest shone through and they reluctantly ushered us through into a ware house used as an academy for circus arts.

The typical farce of Toronto's licensing laws clogged the place up - over there near circle pits around vendors dishing out six dollar drink tokens, and in that corner two trailers quaking with the bass being used as washrooms - fight your way through that lot to the rushed bar staff lining up and spraying shots into glasses and filling them with pre-mixed pitchers of cock tail fillers. And at the back of it all, moving up towards the speakers the place was quite empty - the queue outside obviously being more important a statement than actually letting people in.

If you want to sell people an idea of a particular drink being more conducive to sex'ed up partying then for christ's sake don't charge them six dollars each for a cocktail when you own the damn manufacturing plants, the distribution networks, the brand and are running the event. That's like the brewery that drag people through on tours with the promise of a complementary drink and then sucker punch them with the small print reality that serves up shot glasses of lagar.

Bacardi as always do their home work but still do they get it disasterously wrong. My rusty brain scratches around and tries to remember some of their ads; usually they are Carribean laced and dashed with a lifestyle centred around wild parties of afro beats, calypso rythyms anything tinged with exotica - in this instance the global fusion of Diplo and the disco to acid house wanderings through the crates of James Murphy are the perfect complement to fleshing the theoretical image of what Bacardi are about.

When you look up and see several trapeze artists contorting themselves on rings and rolling along ribbons like yo-yo's fuck it dawns you are in the ad. Except in the real ads and not just their brief flight into reality, Bacardi aren't crass enough to ruin the visions of the dancehall with almost pornographic relays of their bottles and caps.

And even more telling of the mirage between lifestyle branding and reality was the painful murmurs of "Diplo, Diplo!" from sectors of the floor during Murphy's set. It was a pained disquiet that dawned with realization that he wasn't playing a sound track for professional something-somethings to play Toronto's mating game of pulling model poses, dragging fingers across your chest with a staring pout - but something to be danced to with your eyes closed and none of that every day hang up of the everyday celebrity multitudes like being caught in a Facebook photo unprepared mattering.

And despite this fucking barbaric rudeness to Murphy and in another constant Toronto peculiarity, once Diplo came on the crowd ignored him. He peeled off some violently good dance hall from the islands, and then he ran into some commercial hip hop just for that shot of invigoration, some Baltimore smacks and then some nasty nasty from South Rakka's crew - and all within ten minutes and then he stopped. "Come on Toronto" he begged, starting again from the outset to get the crowd into it through slightly twisted mainstream numbers in a process that seemed to happen every fifteen minutes.

Finally he seemed to give up, wielding out uninteresting and over used mainstream techno with the more interesting material simply featuring as very rare commas in a long drab sentence. For this the crowd went off and respect to Diplo he played to it but still within half an hour of it taking off they all still cleared the floor - far from the decadent promises of your typical Bacardi ad.

Toronto's night life is quite an interesting spectacle and one I haven't bothered engaging with or exploring beyond some of the more obvious events. The city is lauded by the likes of Richard Florida as a template for the cities of tomorrow, enviroments that have moved the old manufacturing class out - allowed the old industrial haunts to become ravaged with inner city decay and drug addiction finally to be restructured silently through underground artist communities.

This is the cultural electrical shock that eventually lets them swim in global capital with a whole new purpose as geographically sprawling think tanks for market innovation with building after building of indie galleries, collectively run fashion boutiques, design houses and concept shops that deal in the immaterial idea of what a space should suggest. Then the nightlife becomes a double job of further innovation, brimming pots of experimentation re-defining the landscape of aesthetics that re-packages the age old product of music and intoxicants.

Check out the spin being put out by CIRCA, the city's latest super club coming in at a cost of over six million. In Dublin places like Spirit do the dance of body and soul, selling some badly digested hippy philosophy as a cover for the trashed up mainstream that persists in all the other clubs but here CIRCA has given itself the mission of actually fundamentally transforming how mainstream club culture performs it's masquerade.

They've hired dozens of queer performers, define its musical terrain through the indie dance scene and dragging the whole alternative club culture right into the centre of the commericial one- mashing the weekend antics of the mental venting of the 60 hour plus a week professionals with the cultural legitimacy of bohemian hedonism and fashion stakes. Like Bacardi they are recruiting cool hipsterdom as an internal innovator that helps them skate over the cracks in the nightlife commerce caused by the mainstreams fluctuating tastes.

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i was checking your blog out.
I promote an unusually creative new artist from London via New York.
i think you'd appreciate Kino, he is firing the British psychedelia to the next dimension.


here is the press kid, i call
you can incorporate things from there for your use, should you be kind enough to feature the MAP OF THE UNIVERSE

Tell us what you think? Hope you embrace this independent cosmic soldier!

cheers Bianca.
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Soundtracksforthem specialises in iconoclastic takes on culture, politics, and more shite from the underbelly of your keyboard. A still-born group blog with a recent surge of different contributers but mainly maintained by James R. Big up all the contributers and posse regardless of churn out rate: Kyle Browne, Reeuq, Cogsy, Chief, X-ie phader/Krossie, Howard Devoto, Dara, Ronan and Mark Furlong. Send your wishes and aspirations to antropheatgmail.com

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