Techno-heads dance late into the night

Katie Jiang's electronic music parties transform industrial warehouses

Late night party
At 1 a.m., the party is just beginning. This room will soon be full of techno-enthusiasts. Alyssa Albanese/Toronto Observer

While you were sleeping, techno-heads were partying in an industrial warehouse.

At 4 a.m. in Toronto, Kollective’s late-night techno show is still going strong. People are sweating, forcing themselves to keep dancing. Others are calling for their rides and stumbling out of the venue.

Kollective is an event management company that organizes techno shows in locations around Toronto that aren’t disclosed to participants until the night of the event. It was founded by electronic music-enthusiast Katie Jiang. She studied business at McMaster University, so turning her love of music into a personal venture “came naturally,” she says.

Jiang started Kollective just over a year ago at the age of 23. She says she began with the intention of bringing “like-minded people” together. However, these parties are more than just a fun time; Kollective takes the production seriously. It tries “to get the best rental sound system in Toronto,” she says.

“Last year, I was thinking that the techno scene needed more shows. We were getting some at Coda, we had Electric Island, but we needed more niche techno shows that really displayed that true European-Berlin-Detroit sound. So that’s when Kollective was born,” she says.

Jiang has already doubled the usual attendance from 100 guests to more than 200. Guests say that the DJ bookings are impressive. Last February, Kollective booked Deetron, a popular techno DJ who hadn’t played in Toronto in over two years. However, Kollective doesn’t shy away from booking local artists.

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“We actually man and patrol our own parties throughout the night to make sure that everyone’s safe.”

-Katie Jiang

Earlier in May, 500 Keele, a popular warehouse venue often booked by Kollective, was temporarily closed for what it described as “city regulations and spacing issues.” That forced Jiang to find a new venue. They’ve spent the last two weeks cleaning out the remnants of a shuttered business to get it ready for their first party. The location of the venue will be disclosed to attendees via Facebook the night of the event.

These shows are “safe spaces” and they are “inclusive to all walks of life;” they encourage “expression of individuality and sexuality,” says Jiang. This event in particular is part of their “Untitled” series where guests have stickers placed on their phone cameras to discourage photography.

Kollective’s approach to safety is what sets them apart from other event management companies, Jiang says.

“We actually (staff) and patrol our own parties throughout the night to make sure that everyone’s safe,” she says.

Because drug use is a big part of the scene, the Kollective security team carries naloxone kits as a precaution. Naloxone can reverse the effects of opioids and overdose. Although the security team tries their best to prevent drug use at the shows, “you can never be too careful,” according to Jiang. She says they haven’t had any major safety issues so far. They also offer free water, unlike many techno venues in downtown Toronto.

“Warehouse parties aren’t what you think they are,” says partygoer Sajeed Bakht. “They’re honestly safer than clubs in downtown Toronto.”

The techno community in Toronto is continuously growing. Venue closures don’t scare these techno-heads from keeping the party going; when one venue closes, another one opens.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Kollective was founded by Jiang and friends. Jiang is the sole owner. This story has been updated.

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Posted: Jun 14 2019 8:35 am
Filed under: Features Toronto at 4 a.m.