Sunset’s annual Dance Dance Resolution is a celebration of all that is dance culture! A long history focusing on the musical origins of Sunset’s culture – progressive house, tech house & trance – DDR is always an epic gathering of Island dance family ripping it up to some of the most glorious beats available. Here, Rennie Foster visits Sunset and dishes out an inspired set – captured live for our revisitation! Enjoy :)
A Message to Victoria party people
Not one to just run out on a work in progress, while I was living in Japan I was trying my best to keep an eye on what was happening in the Victoria underground dance music community. I had been hearing about the Sunset Room and felt hopeful knowing that my beloved hometown had a proper after-hours, essential to a healthy underground anywhere, in my opinion, and a venue style I was growing very fond of playing in my travels. An after-hours environment for me differs from that of a club in that the possibilities for music and atmosphere are wide open with the potential to go deeper and further into the music …all the way to the morning light, the way it was supposed to be enjoyed! When I play an after-hours set over the course of several hours I will attempt to completely dissolve all rules of genre and programming. It sounds cliche but there is just no way of getting around using the somewhat tired word “journey” …more fitting perhaps is the word “trip”, because I am going for something of a transportive experience. Body, mind and yes, soul… (while we are embracing cliches we might as well go all the way.) But as cliche as it sounds in text, believe me, it makes sense on the floor at four in the morning deep into a stereotype defying groove that you can’t even tell what tempo you are dancing to. I am going for a unifying, shared expedition through music directly to the heart of dance music’s purpose within humanity. Believe it.
I first saw the Sunset Room with my own eyes in 2010 on my first trip back to BC in 6 years in order to play at the VEMF Festival. I had heard about it enough times but here it was, and I was very surprised. I knew right away there was something very special about the room. Since that first impression I have now played at the Sunset Room several times, including this past New Years eve. Let me tell you something, I have played at after-hours clubs in several countries, some very famous ones in fact such as Amate-Raxi in Tokyo and Le Batofar in Paris etc. and truthfully, in terms of space, atmosphere and sound, Sunset Room is on par, and perhaps superior in some ways to those venues. The sound system is warm, full and clear, the staff are the absolute opposite of the bully-ish bruisers who love nothing more to intimidate, so common at most every sketchy after-hours I have had the pleasure attending. Ever been to Vancouver’s premier after-hours? Yeah well let me tell you, the staff ain’t very friendly. The Sunset Room staff are always smiling and friendly, warmly welcoming anyone who wishes to come and get down in peace. It’s rare. Everything about the Sunset Room is quite rare in fact. I am not sure Victoria’s scene really understands or appreciates how dope that room really is. Need to step outside for some air? How about being right on the ocean behind a protective gate. Seriously. I have decided to spend some time this year trying to turn some people on to this amazing venue, because sharing something you are excited about is what DJing is really all about my friends.
It’s no secret that Hush is my home-base in Victoria. I love that room more than I can even describe and have said so very publicly even to site it repeatedly as my favourite place to play in several international interviews. I will be at Hush to do my thing with my Hush family on June 30th, so I hope to see you all there. However before that I will make a very special hometown visit on June 9th to do something quite a bit different that I hope you choose to check out because I am hoping to not only show you an amazing venue that you belong at (whether you realize it yet or not) but also expand your pre-conception of what I do as a DJ. When I play a club set I am there for 90 minutes of your partying pleasure and believe me, I was born to do it. However on June 9th I am privileged with a 3.5 hour set and plan to take full command of your after-hours experience. As part of the already great regular event “House Insurance” featuring Dotched from City of Nines and Naomi Nice, starting at 10pm, I will take over the decks at 2:00 am and take it all the way to the morning hopefully getting to know you all a whole lot better in the process. This is something special for me, in a special room with special folks and a whole bunch of extra special music. I am going to do my best to make it something we can remember for a long time and look back on from the future, smiling. Hope so much to see you there.
Sincerely, Your DJ, Rennie :)
Now, I will admit that I have opinions – and obviously, yours may not match mine. In my opinion though, there are a handful of PARTICULARLY awesome things about west coast dance culture and amongst the tops in the list are Hush Nightclub, Control Freq Radio and Mr. Rennie Foster! And this week they are rather intertwined, and for good reason. First, it is Rennie’s birthday this weekend, and Hush Nightclub will play host to the epic madness – including DJ sets from Labs teammates Natron & Braeden, along with Degree One, Koosh, Kita-Kaze, our awesome host David T and of course the man himself – Rennie Foster.
Remember in The Neverending Story when Atreyu ventured across the world of Fantasia on his grand adventure and played his fantastic role in keeping the dream alive? Well… that may or may not have anything to do with this situation – but everytime Rennie makes it over to the Island (VEMF 2011, Earthdance 2011, Dance Dance Resolution NYE party at Sunset) – it sure feels like he’s playing a role in keeping the dream alive. This weekend you can come be part of the celebration at HUSH and decide for yourself!
And ever-awesome Control Freq Radio (lots more on them soon) has taken notice as well, and recently caught up with Rennie for a feature interview and guest mix – which you can check out by clicking on the banner below!
Our New Years Eve party was another amazing gathering of beautiful people and mind-boggling beats. Everyone raised the bar to bring the year to a fantastic end, and Rennie Foster played one of the most dance-awesome sets we have recently heard! CityOf9s and Toby Emerson from the Labs team played either side of Rennie which meant a night thick with driving house & tech house beats. Our photographer in residence Evan Boyd was onsite to capture some of the yummy moments.
A few months ago our team came together and decided Earthdance was ready for something new – some shift in how we were delivering & hosting our event, such that we could feel we were playing a bigger role in giving back to the spaces we were using. Quickly, O.U.R. Ecovillage came into focus as an amazing prospective host for our gathering. After some quick meetings with the O.U.R. Ecovillage team, we were a GO for putting together OUR Earthdance 2011!
Hundreds of beautiful people arrived to O.U.R. EcoVillage this weekend to participate in the most amazing Earthdance Festival we’ve yet co-created! A smaller event for Earthdance (max 300 people), but the largest event O.U.R. Ecovillage has ever hosted! The production team arrived Thursday with loads & loads of fabric & decoration, tools & supplies and of course lights & sound equipment! Midway into the day our generously loaned “Spirit Stage” from Cowichan arrived, and then it started to feel really real.
As the production team acclimated to this new space it became obvious this was something a little different than we were used to. Perhaps it was moving the cow so we could get our cars through, or walking through the massive organic garden on the way to the shared meals created by our hosts, or maybe what tipped us off was the goats chewing on our tripods as we hosted our opening circle… but something was indeed different.
By the time that guests began arriving Friday morning there was still much to do – but there was a tremendous energy of peace & joy amongst our crew & hosts – albeit perhaps shy a few hours sleep for many of us. Our guests, vendors and talent, began arriving. Sunset Labs team member Space Age dropped some fun lunchtime beats to welcome arriving community, and then the opening circle came quickly, featuring a vision dance by Taiya and a blessing from a local elder who shared with us two songs in their original language – the name of which I already don’t recall, the beautiful sound of which I know I’ll retain awhile longer. Brandy Gallagher of O.U.R. Ecovillage officially welcomed our tribe onto the property and then it was time for dance! Grandpa Phunk (Earthdance teammate Neil Johnson) picked up the pace next.
As the day went on we saw contributions from NOVA Fire Spun Arts of the Comox Valley, longtime acoustic artist Jess Blue who now adds DJing to his long list of musical magic, and Sunset Labs teammate Beatfarmer who we’ve all been hearing a lot from lately as his production continues to hit new heights! I have to talk this guy up, because HE never will ;) The amazing kids zone, put together by Lilith Chameleon & crew, stepped into gear with offerings including puppetry, colouring, storytelling, hoop workshops, interactive lightshows and the ever-awesome Sacred Storyteller with gamemaker Joelique Spiritfeather. Kristin Grant and the Urbanheart team’s huge collaborative canvas nearby made it all the more difficult for parents to tear the kids away.
Gifted local healer Aaron Banfield led a community acupuncture clinic throughout each day, and a number of other healers were onsite offering reiki, jin shin do and various forms of massage. You didn’t have to go far to get some healing – there were massage tables & chairs everywhere! Morning yoga classes by Shambunata & Maria Fillipone got people moving in the morning, and our Saturday morning O.U.R. Ecovillage workparty saw dozens of Earthdance guests joining in and slinging mud onto the walls of the new cob & rammed earth eatery being built on the property, which will be driven by a zero-mile-diet philosophy! It was amazing to be able to leave something constructive behind, even if by most measurements, it was just well-placed dirt. :)
Our deeply talented dance friends Luciterra performed 2 shows on Saturday, joined by contact juggler Chris Murdoch – and WOW has his addition added some amazing elements to their presentation. We’ll soon have some pics to share, but if you weren’t there, we’ll be hard-pressed to convey the sheer AWEsomeness of their movement & magic. The weekend remained very high on amazing contributions, including movement workshops with Jade de Trey & Lindsay Spencer, performance & a wish tree from NOVA Fire Spun Arts, a high-flying demonstration by Cativeiro Capoeira and an empassioned dance performance by Methuselah Dance Troupe. After dark we saw indescribable visual contributions by Sijay of OnBeyond Metamedia & Eli of Spiral Sense – both of whom will be showing off in Victoria again sometime soon.
On Saturday afternoon we came together for the Global Prayer for Peace, simply one of the most empowering & inspiring events I think one might have the privilege to participate in. Speaking to the international Earthdance theme this year of “Celebrating Our Forests”, we were then joined by TJ Watt of Ancient Forest Alliance & Brian Roberts of Cowichan Energy Alternatives who shared a little about their efforts to protect Vancouver Island’s Forests. The ensuing Spiral Dance, now a 4 year veteran on Vancouver Island, is really of another world. There’s something about being in a chain with many hundreds of people sharing the same space, music & intention – while having a seriously ridiculously good time – that’s a rare gift to those in attendance. Aside from the risk of getting a little dizzy, it’s something you should definitely look to try sometime if ever presented the opportunity.
Acoustic music this weekend featured Shane Philip (Comox Valley), Tarran the Tailor (Vancouver), Masala & Wontanara (Victoria), Silva Sound (Saltspring Island) & the Klaxon (on loan to Canada for a short time from Columbia)! DJ sets & electronica was driven by Adham Shaikh, Naasko & Sijay (Nelson), Timothy Wisdom, Rennie Foster & Shamanoid (Vancouver), and fellow Islanders Microbongo Sound System, Brass Sass & Swing, R&D (Rowan & Desunos), Beatfarmer, Florian, Space Age, Grandpa Phunk, Jesse B, Blue Lunar Monkey, Joshua James & Chris CHill – who also hosted a packed first Vancouver Island screening of the new documentary Electronic Awakening – which will be screened at Sunset Room again in October.
With this huge array of contributing talent, the innate vibe & power of our host property, the strictly sober event format and the brilliant potpourri of guests that joined us this event will not soon be forgotten, and it’s impacts – whether interpersonal, energetic or tactile – will I’m certain long remain & ripple out beyond our hearts & communities. We’re deeeeeply grateful to the attendees for saying yes to a ticketed event format, in a new venue, with a new schedule & flow. We also express deepest bows to our hosting Cowichan tribes. We thank all the artists, each of whom contributed their music or performance for pennies, gas & salads. Lastly – thank you to our amazing & committed team of volunteers, without whom there would be no memory of this event, no stories to tell, and no tremendous excited circle of hands in the air this last weekend – sending love into the world and powerfully inviting whatever comes next.