Over the course of 18 years, Toronto's super club, The Guvernment, has nurtured millions of unforgettable moments. From the open-to-close sets and Acid Lounge lay-downs, to chain-smoking on the terrace and dancing on the speakers (and fighting to get onto the damn things). And of course, the moment we've all shared―the realization that it's not raining, but sweating.
We will soon close the final chapter on a piece of Toronto's dance music history. As the last weekend looms closer, THUMP spoke to those who have made The Guvernment what it is, and asked them to share their favorite moments.
(Kleenex not included, sorry.)
THUMP: What was your favorite moment at The Guvernment?
"I have been very lucky to have played in Toronto since the early '90s and have always enjoyed the vibe and energy from the city's crowd. When The Guvernment came along it really set the bar high in terms of sound (with the Phazon system) and design (a proper purpose built club that ticked all the boxes). It's hard for me to pick one night that stands out over the years, as I've always had a great time playing there. But my last gig back in October was a special one because I knew it was the last time I would play there. I really poured my heart and soul into that set and loved every minute of it. I'm so glad that the latest Live in album came from that gig. It was a very memorable night for me and the many people who have supported me over the years."
"It would be impossible for me to pick just one, and hopefully I can explain the reasons why.
Throughout my career, I've been privileged enough to have had the opportunity to build my legacy at some of the world's greatest and iconic clubs. These venues are held in the highest esteem and acted as crucial building blocks towards the scene we love today. Among those was The Guvernment.
As my name began to spread beyond local residencies in Phoenix and Miami, Toronto was among the first cities in the world to embrace me and what I represented. Through the early Armada nights, they made me feel like one of their own―something that continued through their magical Labour of Love events. Alongside the Guvernment main room, the amazing Kool Haus next door was home to some of the most important nights in my DJ life.
This was highlighted through the release of my Toronto '09 city series compilation, with tracks such as "Queensquay & Jarvis" and "Koolhaus" highlighting the fondness and affection I have for everything associated with the club.
Doors continued to open for me and I was lucky to perform in the style that I love the most, the open-to-close solo set. I wanted these sets to take place in the venues that would do them justice, and The Guvernment fit that bill. When they finally happened, they exceeded the expectations of us all.
When I heard the news about the Guvernment closing I was so sad, because a cherished piece of clubbing land would cease. Fortunately, I was given the chance to pay tribute to the people of Toronto, and The Guvernment itself, with one final solo set back in September. Going for the duration record, lasting 11 hours.
A small way of giving back and saying thanks, I recorded the set, showcased part of it through the Global DJ Broadcast World Tour, and released the entire thing unedited on my Soundcloud.
I hope by doing that, the entire world could embrace the love and gratitude for The Guvernment nightclub, the promoters, staff, DJs who have graced the decks, and the people of Toronto who made it special. An incredible era comes to an end, but I am excited for what the future holds for the city."
"Ministry of Sound came out with a CD that included a piece of paper printed with the words "Tune On!" It started out in the UK and then in Ibiza that summer, where if people liked the song being played they would hold up this thing that said "Tune!" There was even a dance that they told you to do when you held it. At the Guvernment one night I saw these guys with the Tune! sign. I had my girlfriend go over and talk to them, thinking that they were on holiday in Toronto or something. We got to know them and found out they were actually from East York. They started taking Tune! to the next level. In Europe, the whole thing died out within a couple months. But these guys, Neil and Raymond, they kept it going in Toronto and started making their own signs and giving them out to everyone. There were nights at the Guvernment where there were hundreds of these Tune! signs being held up. Then they started making bigger ones. They went from being a small sheet of paper to thirty-by-fifty feet. They had poles, air horns and pretty much took up the whole main room. They eventually started getting all the DJs to sign them and the BBC even came over and did a story on them."
"My favourite moment at The Guvernment out of many, very memorable nights, was probably spending my birthday there. I think it was 2009 or 2010. I was supposed to play two hours and in the end I played nearly five. The crew at the venue plied me with shots towards the end of the set and for the last hour they had to raise the hydraulic DJ booth up high enough so the crowd couldn't see how smashed I was! It was just that sort of place, where no matter how late it go the energy never changed, and at 5 AM there would still be sweat dripping off the ceiling. It was a total one-of-a-kind place and there's really nowhere else like it left. I'm gonna miss that place a lot."
Manzone & Strong:
"As residents of The Guvernment for the past 13 years, we are proud to call this world-class venue our home. Week after week, we've been privileged to play alongside some of the world's most iconic DJs and artists. It's extremely difficult to pick one night that stands out among the rest, since they all hold a special place in our hearts. But if we had to chose one, it would be the moment Charles Khabouth asked us to be apart of the INK Entertainment family way back in 2002. This included our eight hour sets inside The Drink, sunrise sets on Skybar, and onto the legendary main room of The Guv. Since then, we have grown together as artists, providing the best in cutting edge music, sound, and lights that have always brought electronic music fans back for more. To us, The Guvernment is a music institution. We're honoured to have played at a club where the talent, the people, and the electric atmosphere helped to create memorable experiences for fans worldwide. We are sad to see Guv close. But as one door closes another one opens. The future is bright and we are very excited. Through time, we'll create new memories and experiences to last us another decade. #GuvLuv Forever."
"I have so many memories, I don't know where to start. There have been a lot of funny moments. But for me, the best thing was just standing on the landing and watching the crowd. They were all completely, insanely, losing their minds―hands in the air. That's what drives me every day. That's what has kept this place open. Going down there and seeing the crowd, the music, the DJs―that's a perfect night to me.
Other people have a lot of great memories there. I believe there are a total of 17 or 18 people, male and females, that have over the years tattooed The Guvernment logo on them. They were regulars, the real hardcore ones. There are even people who started at the club the year we opened or shortly after, who have met their best friends there, and met their wives there. It makes me feel amazing. Even within our staff―we have four staff members now that married other staff from The Guvernment. It's been a fun time and a fun venue, the memories will always be there."
"I have two favourite moments in The Guvernment. One was when the DJ booth was high up, many years ago. I played an extended set and went really deep and the crowd loved it. I was blown away at how open minded they were. The other one was when I did my Full On show at the Kool Haus. It was great to do back-to-back sets at such an amazing venue."