June 29th, 2014: My first music festival, Toronto’s Digital Dreams. An absolutely stacked lineup, featuring Justice, Nervo, Eric Prydz, Tiesto, and Art Department, amongst others. I’m already overwhelmed after day one of baby’s first rave, but I’m nonetheless spirited along to the Social Experiment Stage, where a warm summer rain has begun to fall. I’m briefly worried, but then I find myself dancing underneath a beach towel held up by four people. I look at the stage and see plastic tarps covering the DJ decks, and behind them, undeterred is a man with a shock of bright green hair and round sunglasses. Over the heavy bass, I hear the vocal line “Hit me with those lazer beams!”, followed by an explosion of lazer noises, and the sound of the crowd going nuts. I’m instantly hooked.
What I witnessed that day, that would leave such an imprint on me as a raver, was Tech-House legend Green Velvet. Also known as Cajmere, Green Velvet an absolute legend in House music circles, not only for his signature neon-green Mohawk. His career, spanning nearly three decades, has seen the creation of two record labels, Cajual and Relief, and countless hit singles- from “Lazer Beams”, to “Flash”, to my personal favorite “Shake and Pop”, it is an absolute guarantee that you have heard one of his tracks at one rave or another.
Over the course of my 5-year raving career, Green Velvet has always been there, time after time, continuously pumping out memorable sets that have always left a lasting impression. So, ahead of his upcoming show on December 6th at Her Nightclub in Mississauga, I thought I would take a look back at my history with the DJ I have seen the most- so here are the 9 times I’ve seen Green Velvet.
- October 11th, 2014: My first time at Coda Nightclub in Toronto. I’ve taken the weekend off of school in London, Ontario and have driven up. Still riding the high of Digital Dreams, I show up to the club in festival gear, complete with Kandi and a light-up bra. I dance the night away and end up meeting a lively redhead at the bar, who would eventually become my best friend and raving partner in crime in the years to come. We would often echo this night as the one that started our friendship. And, as the cherry on top of the sundae, I meet Green Velvet, give him a piece of Kandi, and take a picture with him. I’m on cloud nine.
- November 20th, 2015: It’s been over a year but I make the pilgrimage back to Toronto to see Green Velvet once again at Coda. I groove, I bounce, I shake and I pop. I throw him another piece of Kandi and start to wonder if maybe he’s recognized me as the weirdly enthusiastic blonde from his last stint at the club.
- January 29th, 2016: Green Velvet plays at my hometown of London Ontario, at London Music Hall. A large venue that mostly plays rock music acts, the venue welcomes him with open arms as my small group of hometown raver friends dance along to “Voicemail”, all singing in unison: “Meet me at the club!”. I still have the set saved on my Soundcloud.
- September 4th, 2016: Okay, so it was technically Green Velvet and Claude Vonstroke in their fantastic duo project Get Real, but it still counts. I watch as, right before the breakdown of “Mind Yo Bizness”, Green Velvet taps Claude Vonstroke’s shoulder, then joyfully spins around as the beat drops. We hear the premiere of what would become one of my favorite Green Velvet remixes, the Eats Everything remix of “Flash”. I’m reminded again by how good this guy is.
- April 22nd, 2017: Green Velvet plays at NOIR inside of Rebel in Toronto, four days after my 22nd birthday. I make a Facebook event and invite all of my raving friends from far and wide. I refuse to get a booth because nobody has that kind of money, and I would rather be on the dance floor anyway.
- July 7th, 2017: The newly christened Bud Light Dreams Festival (the festival formerly known as Digital Dreams) has Green Velvet playing once more at the Waterfront Stage. I feel a strong bout of nostalgia as I watch the boats pass by in the harbor. I sit on the grass for a moment to rest, and then instantly launch myself back to the front of the stage when I hear just a hint of that ever so familiar lazer noise. I can’t resist.
- August 11th, 2018: Green Velvet at Electric Island in Toronto. I wish I could say I remembered more, but at this point in the list, the sets have started to blur together. That’s the thing about Green Velvet- he’s so consistently good, his sound so perfected from years of DJ’ing. His identity is cemented and his talent is evident. So, yes, it was just as good as the previous six sets.
- August 24th,2018: Green Velvet at Creamfields festival in the UK. There are nine different stages and countless artists playing that day, but even after traveling thousands of miles I knew exactly who I was going to see. Even better was the back to back set that occurred as the previous DJ, Patrick Topping, joined forces with Green Velvet. I scream along the lyrics to “Shake and Pop” as my new friends from the USA observe me, impressed and maybe a little freaked out.
- July 28th, 2019: Green Velvet at Cabana Pool Bar in Toronto. The summer heat blazes on my skin as my best friends and I slam back shots in our swimsuits. I somehow manage to shuffle in a pair of flip flops right at the front of the stage. As soon as he finishes, my best friend- the one I met at Coda years before- ditch our friends to get drunk food. We reminisce about the set that has just occurred, and all the other times we’ve seen him, over plates of pasta and glasses of red wine.
Today: My best friend messages me. “We’re still doing Green Velvet, right?”. I lean back and evaluate a nearly five-year love affair with one musical artist. I have two different friend groups going to the show that are both hosting pre-parties in the city. I’m wondering if I should do a throwback and wear my light-up bra again. I marvel at the fact that one DJ could do so much for me.
I text back my assent to my bestie: “10th time’s the charm.”
*Featured photo via DJ Guide