Toronto
3 min

Movin’ grooves

The beat is his passion

SCENE BUILDER. DJ Blackcat helped turn on Toronto's gay scene to urban sounds. Credit: Xtra files

Toronto’s
DJ Blackcat is an originator and after 10 years of climbing the ladder he is
finally seeing his spotlight shine. He started by playing straight clubs in
1993, but that never suited his flare so Blackcat slipped a tape to gay scene
promoter Gilles Belanger, who saw hip hop and R’n’B start-ing to bud in the gay
community around ’98. But the bud it seemed would take its time blowing up, as
Blackcat rode the peaks and valleys of constantly shifting popularity.




Blackcat is an examplein longevity; he has maintained a tight focus on the
urban underground that fuels his passion for music. As other DJs fall off to
the wayside, constantly updating their image and sound to reflect the trends,
Blackcat has consistently developed his unique blend of hip hop, R’n’B and
soulful house. As his sound continues to tighten and develop, Blackcat’s fan
base continues to spread, showing that respect for the music will outlive the
trends every time.




For Blackcat music all boils down to the beat. “I come from a dancing
background,” says Blackcat. ” I love to dance; I love to see people dance. I
don’t want to see you chilling up against a wall. I want to see you dance.”




The big hip hop boom of last summer brought Blackcat’s name to the spotlight,
which he’s put to good use promoting the ever popular Stylin’ Saturdays at
Manhattan Night Club (19 Balmuto St). Stylin’ has proved so popular it has
spawned a new event, Downlow Da Basement, the first and last Friday of every
month, also at Manhattan. “People don’t just want to hear it on Saturdays
anymore,” explains the always energetic and upbeat Blackcat. “The audience is
expanding, and their wants are demanding.”




Blackcat is best known for his four-year residency at Zipperz (72 Carlton St)
where he first opened the floodgates of exposing a white gay market to his
signature urban sounds. But after four years, Blackcat felt that Zipperz had
grown complacent. “They weren’t promoting me,” says Blackcat who has no hard
feelings with the club. “When I started there four years ago, Zipperz was the
place people went to die – only an older crowd, avoided by the rest of the
scene. Now they have line-ups and all kinds of respect.” So when it was
suggested that Blackcat rotate DJs on his popular Friday night, he decided to
cut loose from the club and focus on his own entertainment ventures. (He’s
still spinning at Zipperz afternoon beer garden on Sat, Jun 28.)




Blackcat is not only a leader in the urban music market, he is also a gay black
icon in the African Canadian and Caribbean communities. His Black Pride
celebration during the 2002 Caribana was the first of its kind, offering gay
islanders a place to party during the weekend-long festivities.




During Pride Week this year Blackcat is throwing a Pretty In Pink double party
on Sat, Jun 28. Hosted in two venues, Pretty In Pink has one cover for two
variations of a theme. For the brothers, there is DJs Blackcat and Cashmere at
Manhattan and for the sisters DJs Lytes, T’n’T and Rocks will be spinning at
The Pilot (22 Cumberland St), just a short walk north of Manhattan.




“Each space is gender targeted but not exclusive,” says Blackcat. There will be
performances by Markeda J Brown and the Blackcat managed dance troupe Mystri at
each venue, and it will also be the release of Blackcat’s promotional mix CD
Pretty In Pink. “I’m a little nervous about Pride, as SARS may have frightened
some people away,” says Blackcat. “But I’m honestly looking forward to it much
more than last years’, and expect it will be fun.”




Blackcat will also be spinning at the outdoor Blockorama party, which was one
of the highlights of last year’s Pride celebrations. In case you’re still
hungering for more, Blackcat will be heading up a new hip hop/R’n’B/reggae
night Wednesdays at the Stables, the first floor of the Barn (418 Church St).
“These are sounds unheard of at the Barn,” laughs Blackcat. “They want to take
some chances, and we’re looking to have a lot of fun with it.”




Blackcat’s success continues to grow, from the strength of his own passion, a
passion that will hopefully begin to lead to greater exposure outside of the
Toronto core. But till then chances are, if you need something to keep you
grooving, Blackcat will be there to try and make you happy.




* Most of Blackcat’s parties are listed in the Ultimate Pride Guide; for the
latest on Blackcat check out his new web site at www.dj-blackcat.tk.