Once upon a time, on a magical night, my friend Vince and I arrived at Toika Lounge. I walk through the doors and am immediately at home in this venue. The bar is directly to the right of us, so we venture over, perch, and view our surroundings. The light over the bar is dim and warm, behind us is a VIP/bottle service area with comfy looking couches and candlelight. We purchase a bucket of beer and discuss the house music that is playing. My friend Vince felt that DJ Mr. Morton mixed in a track for too long because he had momentarily lost interest. This led to a massive discussion on track timing. All the while we bounce along. I acknowledged Vince’s point as valid, but I counter-argued that the track rocked.
Overall, the room was quite small. The place was filling up with people by the second! I draw my attention to the dance floor, and I freak out! “OMG! We get to see Alex M.O.R.P.H. here?” Another VIP/bottle service lounge is set up at the far back end of the dance floor. To the front, at the DJ booth, a single projector splashes rotating images against the ceiling from atop the left speaker (crowd’s view). I felt so happy! The reality was that, even at capacity, getting to the front wasn’t going to be an issue. This meant a close interaction with M.O.R.P.H.! It is not too often that this happens. I actually fainted at ASOT450 in Toronto after I dehydrated myself for the sake of getting my Trance(ta)Addict tank signed by AVB.
Moving on, I’m dancing with Vince and, before I know it, friends are all around me. For a few chaotic moments, there is nothing but pretty smiles and warm hugs greeting my senses. My friend hands me some kandi beads, and I go running out to Vince’s car to make a necklace for the plush puppy that I bought for the headlining DJ. I affectionately named this puppy “PRIME ROVER” after Alex M.O.R.P.H.’s new album “Prime Mover”. M.O.R.P.H. is by the right speaker (crowd’s view) taking pictures with fans, and I’m frantic to go make the necklace. Luckily, Vince is there to catch all the beads as they fall out of my shaking hands (he’s a natural candy kid at heart). I get back inside about 5 minutes before M.O.R.P.H.’s set begins. I wait at the front and, as M.O.R.P.H comes out, I kneel down to do him while he is reaching for his intro track. He looks up curiously and waits for me to explain. I hand him the puppy, and he seems genuinely touched by the gesture. He reaches for a hug, pushing a cheek out to me in the kiss it also pose. I wholeheartedly oblige.
I return to my friends just as M.O.R.P.H.’s intro track begins. I’m still trying to figure out what it is when some guy yells out, as loud as he can, “TRANCE FAMILY!” Everybody cheers, and group hugs form to all corners of the room. The beats kick, and we all start to groove. The lyrics to Find by Ridgewalkers (Original released in 2004) fade in. I don’t know the remix, or how this track got into M.O.R.P.H.’s hands, but it was so refreshing to hear it, on loud speakers, with so much love surrounding me, that I was almost moved to tears, halfway through the intro track! I’d promised myself at least 3 beers, so I leave the dance floor to get a refill a few tracks later, but Mighty M.O.R.P.H. is so sneaky! As soon as I reach the bar, the lyrics to his new track with Christian Burns, Secret Universe, creeps out of the speakers. As you might have read in my CD review, I really LOVE this track. I love, love, love Christian Burns! So I was forced to abandon my place at the bar and returned to the dance floor, singing along with it. Then I heard a progressive track fade into M.O.R.P.H’s mix. I think this one was Bay of Bengal, another track from his new album. I looked around and found that the dance floor had actually cleared out a bit, and I was so disheartened by it. I didn’t have to remain 100% disappointed with this outcome, however, because my other favourite track off his album “Eternal Flame” stirred a much better response from the crowd.
M.O.R.P.H’s last track of his set was For the Love of an Angel. I had been feeling badly for giving it criticism as being too generic sounding, and I am really glad that he chose to play this track. The simple lyrics allow everybody listening to catch on to them at first listen. The result was that everybody was singing alone with the last track of his set, whether they knew the song previously or not. M.O.R.P.H.’s ending was powerful and moving.
The beginning of Arnej’s closing set was eargasmic! I hadn’t heard hard-trance in so long that I forgot that it is presently still a genre! It was so very dark and hard and caught me completely by surprise. That having been said, it was what I needed. If I’m going to bitch about people learning to love progressive, I also have to remember the love that I once had for the harder genres of EDM. Arnej’s set made M.O.R.P.H. seem like the teddy bear that he is. Not to mention that it was Arnej’s birthday, so all of us had the opportunity to sing to him and give him birthday hugs.
It was such a good night! When the lights came on, everybody was looking out for everyone around them. As goodbye hugs ensued, so did comments like “Are you sure you have a safe ride home?” and “Drive safely!”. M.O.R.P.H. stuck around to take pictures with everyone too! I can’t speak for him, but I got the energy off of him that he was sad that his night with the Toronto trance-family had reached its end. He got to touch us, talk to us, and feel our love and happiness. He wasn’t harassed or overwhelmed. Everybody showed him that respect we gave to everybody in the room. He was just another familiar trance-family face.
I encourage anybody living in or visiting the Toronto area to definitely pop into Toika for an evening. Make sure you give an extra round of hugs out for me!
Lindsey Lou – EDM TOR