Deadmau5 completely and sincerely loves Tim Hortons. You know, just like every other world-famous music star.
On the dark stage opposite the donut buffet, Deadmau5 pulls off his signature mouse helmet and can see clearly the crowd at this Toronto show: about 100 people in suit jackets sipping wine, beer, and what looks like giant chocolate milkshakes.
There are no strobe lights. No girls on shoulders. No guys on Molly.
Tonight's recreational drug of choice is sugar.
Deadmau5 is making good on his professed love for fellow Canadian icon Tim Hortons, playing the private launch party of its new summer drink: the Creamy Chocolate Chill. The suggested hashtag, #ChoChill, is strategically placed in front of him.
Everyone here knows it's a big deal that the superstar DJ is spinning. They just don't quite know what to do about it. One guy in glasses turns around and takes a selfie, pointing at Deadmau5 just behind him. Another brave soul raises a single hand in the air, like he just don't care. Then he realizes he does, and puts it back down.
But no matter. Any brand would kill for a celebrity endorsement like this. David Clanachan, Tim Hortons' moustachioed Chief Operating Officer, is thrilled Deadmau5 is here.
"He's been a great supporter of Tim's for a long time," Clanachan says. "It's a cool relationship to have."
Cool, but not official. Any reasonable person would think Deadmau5 is a paid spokesman for the company, with all the Instagrams of him hugging a giant inflated Tim's cup and partying with an extra-large one at a club—not to mention the YouTube videos of him taking everyone from Rob Ford to Pharrell WIlliams through the drive-thru.
But no, Clanachan says. Their relationship is "just completely out of respect for each other."
Respect, and Tim Cards.
"He gets a lot of Tim Cards off of us, truthfully. Just because of what he does."
So is he playing here tonight for one?
"I think he'd take it in anything Tim's, really, truthfully."
Last year, what Deadmau5 wanted from the coffee chain was a custom donut. He tweeted the request, and Tim's quickly created something just for him: chocolate Timbits made into his mouse mask. They even had him bake.
The love affair between Tim Hortons and Deadmau5 is sweet, sincere, and makes a lot less sense at a corporate party. As he plays this small space, everything is vibrating: the wood floor, the donuts, our faces.
"It's like bouncing off me," says a tall guy in a suit.
A plate slides off a table, and some older guests search for the exit.
Sure, a Deadmau5 crowd should probably be younger, possibly on drugs ("I can't speak to that," Clanachan says), but finding a new generation of Tim's lovers is what the Creamy Chocolate Chill, which has no caffeine but all kinds of chocolate, is all about.
They come at us on platters, filled to the brim.
I have wine, a Nutella donut, and not enough hands. I take one anyway. It tastes like a chocolate milkshake. No, a double chocolate milkshake. Even colder. Icier.
But no one here knows if Deadmau5 has actually tried one.
"He's definitely an extra-large Double Double guy," Clanachan offers.
I try to settle the matter at the end of the 30-minute set, standing strategically close to the stage exit. But it's Clanachan who gets past the security guard, shakes Deadmau5's hand, and whisks him away.
The rest of us are left with the remnants of this sugar-infused non-rave: a screen displaying the night's most enthusiastic tweets, and piles and piles of empty #ChoChill cups.
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