“See you tomorrow for HANNAHHHH <3 <3”
So reads the Friday night message from my close friend, a Hannah Wants superfan. As I click through old messages while I type this up, the one thing that sticks out the most in my mind is how one great DJ can unite so many people with a genuine love for their music.
Even before I wrote the article that got me into the show, I had a ticket. Way back in July, before FMF was even a twinkle in my eye, I bought early bird presale tickets to the Hannah Wants Toronto tour stop. In the months leading up to the show, friends I’d met at countless different raves messaged me, asking if I was going to be there. By the time I walked up to the venue on November 9th, I had at least eight different friend groups all attending the show. I felt the energy of all of us uniting for one common goal- the bassy, addicting tech-house sound of Hannah Wants.
Even better was the fact that she was playing at my favourite Toronto club, Coda. It’s a club that brings the best kind of people together, not only due to the regular booking of great talent but by creating a space that inspires friendly and safe experiences. Coda is always open until 5 AM, and there’s a continuous crowd of people staying to close it out (myself included when I can muster up the energy). The only dress code requirements are no flip flops and shirts on, but asides from that they “encourage style and personal expression”, according to their website’s FAQ. They even have a coin-operated machine, dispensing earplugs to protect patron’s eardrums from one of the clearest club sound systems found within the city.
As we walk in, we’re treated to the sounds of Butrous, a local Toronto DJ. He starts off the show with a catchy, driving set that welcomes the crowd steadily streaming in. I say my hellos to my many different friend groups, feeling everyone’s excitement. There’s a buzz in the air- sometimes you know when a set’s going to be a big one.
It isn’t long before the big one starts with a bang. Hannah Wants, wearing a tracksuit and her signature braids, comes on the decks at 1 AM, inspiring cheers from the club. The crowd’s fantastic- extremely busy, yet somehow there’s still room to dance. And dance they do, as the audience explodes into grooving when Hannah Wants launches into her set. My friends and I, camped out in a little alcove directly behind the DJ booth, join in and throw down to her signature sound. It’s bassy, it’s funky, it’s heart-pounding, it’s tech, it’s bass, and it’s amazing.
For the second last stop of an eight stop tour, going back and forth between time zones, she doesn’t seem to have lost any of her momentum. It’s not too much of a surprise, considering how well she seems to take care of herself. She Instagrams pictures of fresh juice baskets that people leave in her hotel room, snaps photos of herself working out as she hops between cities within days. I wonder how she does it- I can barely roll myself out of bed and 14 floors down to the gym within my own apartment. I guess it requires a lot of healthy maintenance to throw down dirty beats nightly.
After a particularly nasty breakdown, the crowd starts chanting “HANNAH! HANNAH!”. She grins, pulls out her phone, and records the crowd screaming her name, but only briefly passes it over her own face. It isn’t about her at that moment- it’s about the entire crowd, dancing together, vibing so hard in bass-driven unity. The energy is as electric as the pulsating lights lining the ceiling of the club.
At 3 AM, Hannah finally closes it out and salutes her adoring fans. She moves along the back of the DJ booth, thanking people crowding along the back of it, stopping for pictures and hugs. My friend, who sent me the text mentioned above, sheds a tear as she squeezes her idol. I myself grin like an idiot as I get to hug and thank my namesake for spinning one of the best sets I had seen at my favourite club.
Thanks for the great set, Hannah. Love, Hannah.