Mykel Hall, better known as DJ Blackcat, wants everyone dancing this Caribana. In case you’re new, Toronto’s Caribbean Carnival (Caribana for short) is one of the city’s most anticipated annual events, appreciating and exploring all things cultural and traditional from the eponymous region. It’s a colourful few weeks, invoking the carnivals of Trinidad and Tobago and serving up authentic (and delicious) food, music and performance. There’s a lot to do, but for the last four years, DJ Blackcat has been a standout by giving Toronto’s queers and allies the chance to appreciate some seriously wicked music.
“I feel very strongly about urban music, and I feel that it’s necessary. It is needed in our community during the major festivals and all year round. It should be readily accessible by the community.” It’s this passion that compels him to launch The Urban Jungle party once again. Well, that and the desire for there to be something awesome for the queer community during Caribana.
Since its inception, the party has been known for its fresh combination of hip hop, reggae, soca, house and R&B. This year is no exception, with Urban Jungle teaming up with west-end hip-hop joint Big Primpin’ and a hot lineup of DJs. “This year we step it up a notch by bringing in some new blood that have been introduced at my monthly Go Hard parties” Blackcat says, meaning DJs Sikh Knowledge, his protégé Pensive, Greg, as well as Liam Skinner and Nino Brown, of Yes Yes Y’All fame.
Jully Black is rumoured to make an appearance, and also among this lineup is, of course, Blackcat himself. With 20 years of experience in Toronto, he’s the perfect artist to be heading a queer Caribana event. His Go Hard parties have been pushing people to “go hard or go home” for over three years by bringing in both established and up-and-coming DJs.
If you’ve been before, don’t expect the same old thing. This year, in addition to the killer DJ lineup, Blackcat’s using the space at Fly nightclub. “For the first time, in the lounge downstairs we’re having a video dance party,” he says, so get ready for some major urban sensory overload as you dance the night away.
Also, who doesn’t like free stuff? “I’ll be giving out my first Urban Jungle mixtape, to at least the first 200 people through the door.” So get there early to avoid the line and score some swag. With a mixtape like that, you can turn your bedroom into your own urban jungle for the rest of the year!