It’s been nearly 2 full years since that glorious summer weekend of trance in Toronto, U4RIA Trance Festival, when Craig Connelly last graced our ears with his signature uplifting sounds. I had been anxiously awaiting his return. I had seen him since then, but it’s different in an intimate club on home soil. When I heard the announcement back in January that Trance Sessions would be hosting Craig Connelly for an extended set at One Loft I bought a ticket immediately. I knew this was going to be a night to remember. One Loft has a really special place in my heart. I’ve seen some of my favourite DJs there, surrounded by my friends, many of whom I also met there over the years.
On Wednesday, February 19th, 2020, I opened my notifications to this message:
To our customers, patrons, friends, team members and promotional partners; One Loft Bar will be closing operations as of February 28, 2020. With our sincere gratitude, we kindly ask you and your friends to celebrate with us, at our final closing parties for one last celebration of drinks, music and memories.
This was a shock to my system. It came by complete surprise. This just meant I would have to go twice as hard when Craig came to town; tear up that dance floor one last time.
I made it to Toronto late, I’ll admit. By the time I arrived at One Loft there was actually a queue to get in. It was probably the first time I’ve had to wait in line — not usually being this fashionably late — but we were able to take shelter in the warmth of the stairwell while the staff efficiently moved guests through security. I could hear beats from above but it was hard to distinguish what was happening with the noise from the patrons in line and the clash of house beats wafting from the cafe room. At the top of the stairs a whole new adventure awaited. Gone were the comforts of the One Loft I knew and in its place a stark industrial space with renovations clearly underway. The dance floor was packed and the exclusion of the couches made for extra dancing room in the bar area without the traffic. I settled into the back corner of the dance floor to prepare my body and mind for the onslaught of blissful melodies and heart-stopping beats I was about to endure (with much gratitude). JMP closed out his opening b2b with Brian David with the timelessly gorgeous Promise You (Maria Healy Remix) by Fast Distance & DIM3NSION ft. Cami just as I found a cozy spot surrounded by friends. Fortunately, JMP and Brian David were both kind enough to provide me with their setlists so you can see what I missed out on below; essentially a perfect warm-up. The crowd was primed and ready. The energy level was unparalleled.
I thought I was ready, but I was wrong. The crowd erupted into a chorus of cheers as Craig Connelly took his place behind the decks. He launched directly into a fresh and hard-hitting 138bpm ID. My body didn’t quite know how to react, but I was feeling it. I remember thinking, “If this is just the beginning, where are we going from here?”. Truly, we were in for a wild ride. A couple of new and stunning uplifters in, Craig brought out his freshly-released remix of FUTURECODE ft. Roxanne Emery – Dancing In The Rain. I couldn’t help but sing along. I knew as soon as this event was announced that my vocal cords would be getting a workout that night. Craig is famously known for his incredible vocal trance tracks and anyone who knows me knows that I am completely unable to resist a proper trance belter. When he dropped How Can I? a few tracks later that became very apparent to anyone in my immediate vicinity. Jessica Lawrence’s airy vocals in this track take me to heights I had never dreamed possible, and it took every ounce of my resolve not to succumb to the weakness in my knees and drop to the ground in a blissful puddle. My only regret that night was that I couldn’t make it earlier as to be properly warmed up before that track dropped, but I was getting there. The consistent rush of beats warmed my chest as the melodies took my consciousness to new altitudes. Heat built inside me as Craig dropped Giuseppe Ottaviani’s frantically-melodic “Evolver” album track, Operator. It wasn’t just me, though. The dance floor was hot and sweaty. A crafty gentlemen behind me managed to reboot the fan to allow for some much-needed airflow into the space. His ingenuity was met with well-deserved cheers, as the beats went on.
It was about this time in the night when my body finally succumbed to the power of the trance. At long last, I was warmed up and ready to go as the first few notes of Craig’s 2019 UnKonscious anthem, Phuket dropped. While he is known most famously for vocal trance, his non-vocal tracks are some of my favourites. Through the night we heard some of these, such as The Creator and The Universal, but Phuket is one track that never fails to transport me to an alternate level of consciousness. Totally swept up by the music, I was ready to lose myself to the night, and the constant stream of trance beauties permeating the airwaves. He played so many tracks I know and love, interspersed with fresh IDs that, perhaps, we were some of the first to hear. One unreleased track that I did know, however, and that I had been waiting patiently for, was his team up with Factor B, Tranceatlantic, which is slated for release on FSOE in mid-March. It was the opening track from their Dreamstate SoCal 2019 b2b set, to which I have listened to an embarrassingly excessive number of times since its release. A few IDs later he brought out another favourite from that Dreamstate set; a vocal beauty called Time Machine. The internet is divided on the issue of who provides the vocals, but my guess is Lights Around The World vocalist Megan McDuffee. Craig has an unmatchable skill for seeking out the most incredible new vocalists for his tracks and we certainly got a taste of that this night.
But the beats did go on. JMP and Brian David picked up where Craig left off and brought the energy level back up. JMP’s mashup of John O’Callaghan’s Meridian Bay and OceanLab’s Satellite certainly helped lift my spirits. This, and of course the opportunity to say “Hi” to Craig personally. As the night stretched on, the music played and the ravers danced. I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of melancholy. It felt like the end of an era.
Thank you, once again, to Trance Sessions for bringing such incredible artists for intimate events, time after time.
Thank you to One Loft for hosting intimate trance events over the past few years.
..and thanks to all of you with whom I was able to share this one last dance. This chapter has come to a close but there are many stories left to unfold. Hope to see you all in Montreal for Trance Unity Rave 2020.
Marsh ft. Mimi Page – Eu Topos
Eli & Fur – Parfume (Dosem Remix)
Danny Howard – If You Were
Enrico Sangiuliano – Blooming Era
Mike Griego – Drainer
Aly & Fila – Breathe Us To Life (Monoverse Remix)
Fast Distance & DIM3NSION ft. Cami – Promise You (Maria Healy Remix)
John O’Callaghan vs. Above & Beyond – Meridian Bay (JMP Bootleg)
Full Tilt ft. Deirdre McLaughlin – Surrender (Sneijder vs. John O’Callaghan Remix)
Lange & Sarah Howells – Out Of The Sky (Andres Sanchez Remix)
Armin Van Buuren vs. Arctic Moon vs. One Republic – If I Lose Myself Coming Home (Shura Vlasov Remix)
Florence + The Machine – What The Water Gave Me (Orkidea’s Pure Progressive Remix)
Armin Van Buuren vs. Rank 1 ft. Kush – This World Is Watching Me (Solid Stone Remix)
Stan Kolev – Vainglory
Sebastian Weikum & Alexey Sonar – Monsoon (Unterberg Remix)
Matan Caspi – Enigma
Pryda – Stay With Me (126 bpm)
Grum ft. Chris Sevier – We Are One (Extended Mix)
Jay Lumen – Elysium
Armin Van Buuren ft. Jaren – Unforgivable (Matteo Monero Remix)
Solid Stone ft. Jennifer Rene – Not Enough (Max Graham Remix)
Victor Ruiz – Interstellar
Cosmic Gate – So Get Up (Alex DiStefano Remix)
The Noble Six – Undimmed (Alex DiStefano Remix)
Gareth Emery – Exposure
Marco V – I Feel You (Thomas Datt’s Dreamstate Mix)
Neptune Project ft. Polly Strange – It Turns For You (Noble Six Remix)
Fady & Mina – Wonder Why
FUTURECODE ft Roxanne Emery – Dancing In The Rain (Craig Connelly Remix)
Craig Connelly – The Creator
Craig Connelly ft. Jessica Lawrence – How Can I (John O’Callaghan Remix)
Giuseppe Ottaviani – Operator
JES – Imagination (Will Atkinson Remix)
Craig Connelly – Phuket
Richard Durand & Christina Novelli – Save You
Paul Van Dyk ft. Sue McLaren – Lights (Giuseppe Ottaviani Remix)
Craig Connelly – The Universal
David Forbes ft. Emma Gillespie – Shadows (Cold Blue Remix)
Christina Novelli – Beautiful Life (Craig Connelly Remix)
Giuseppe Ottaviani ft. Hypaton – Space Unicorn
Craig Connelly ft. Roxanne Emery – This Life
Craig Connelly & Factor B – Tranceatlantic
Craig Connelly ft. (ID) – ID
Craig Connelly & Alex Holmes – Waterfall
Craig Connelly ft. (ID) – Can’t You See (ID)
Ferry Corsten presents Gouryella – Surga
Bryan Kearney – Something Out Of Nothing
Craig Connelly ft. Kat Marsh – Light The Way (Craig Connelly Higher Forces Mix)
John O’Callaghan ft. Audrey Gallagher – Big Sky (Agnelli & Nelson Remix)
Craig Connelly ft. Megan McDuffee(?) – Time Machine (ID)
Cold Blue – Golden Leaves
Armin Van Buuren vs. Tempo Giusto – Mr. Navigator
Going In For The Advanced Kill (Craig Connelly Mashup)
Craig Connelly ft. Jessica Lawrence – Believe
Gareth Emery ft. Gavrielle – Far From Home (Craig Connelly Remix)
Craig Connelly & Christina Novelli – Black Hole (Reprise)
Paul van Dyk ft. Plumb – I Don’t Deserve You (Giuseppe Ottaviani Remix)
Cold Blue – Nevada
Ferry Tayle ft. Poppy – The Way Back Home (Craig Connelly Remix)
Craig Connelly feat. Megan McDuffee – Lights Around the World
Craig Connelly & Cate Kanell – Shipwreck
Factor B – Endless vs Craig Connelly ft. Emma Connelly – We Are
Aly & Fila ft. Sue McLaren – Mysteries Unfold (Uplifting Mix)
Bryan Kearney & Christina Novelli – By My Side (Craig Connelly Remix)
Armin Van Buuren ft. Susana – Shivers (Alex M.O.R.P.H. Red Light Dub)
Anna Middleton – TRANCEPORTED