Love and Funky Stuff: Stereo is A Home Away from Home

Having recently grooved to the tunez of Carlo Lio at Stereo Montreal warrants a retelling of the night’s events as well as the nightclub’s past. Now I am not usually a lover of Techno. I am more of a disco queen if you must know. While I respect and can appreciate techno music for its layered complexity, it doesn’t make me want to bust a sweat and it doesn’t make me gush. But Carlo Lio’s got a pep in his step—this guy’s got bounce and there’s no denying it. Originally from Toronto (holllla!) and from the Dj Duo, The Roaches (consisting of himself and Nathan Barato), Carlo Lio climbed up the ladder quickly in the house world. Now an Ibiza headliner, what I like most about his style of DJing is that he has stayed true to his sound whilst successfully integrating it to the global scene. Delivering techno with a twist, Carlo is your home away from home. One hand on the decks, and the other on his Mortadella sandwich, this Tdot Dj did not disappoint. If you haven’t checked him out yet, you should the next time he’s in town.

Now I can’t talk about a DJ at Stereo without telling you a little about the club. I think Stereo tells a story of love and resistance. The club opened in the late ’90s and closed due to a fire in 2008. I remember my first experience at Stereo in the early 2000s. Then just a visitor, I came to Montreal with friends for a weekend. We found out about some secret party and chilled there for a while. But when our dancing shoes began to sizzle we knew it was time to hit up the legendary club. I danced on the Stereo dance floor as the disco angels must have danced on the clouds. The floor is very easy on your feet because there are springs in it. The sound system at the time was entirely analog. I’d like to hear back from readers if this is still the case today. One thing is for sure though. Then and now, Stereo has the best stereo. It’s as if the songs of your desired sins are being whispered directly to your soul. The sharp and crisp delivery of the music is loud enough to wrap itself around you but tuned so exquisitely for you to hear yourself — and your friends — sing. Credit must be paid in full to Angel Moraes who built the original sound system for this nightclub.

When Stereo burned down in 2008 (not to mention a second arson just before its scheduled reopening in 2009) it hit a sore spot for the LGBTQ community in Montreal. These folks were downright mad that so much arson and violence was happening in the village — and rightly so. The community was sick of having their spaces threatened. And so Thomas Piscardelli (the club’s co-owner) vowed to reopen the club stating, “The kids wanna dance.” The Gazette reported stereo goers volunteered to help clean up the mess the fire left behind. High off the love of music, they showed up with lending hearts and hands and demonstrated that house music lives in our body and soul.

So Stereo’s story makes me reflect on the ways in which space can represent resistance and community. And how this sense of resistance is rooted in identity —- I invite you all to join me in thinking about what house music spaces have meant for you. If you have attended stereo, what was (or is) your relationship to it? Why do you go there to listen to your music? And if you haven’t attended Stereo then start to make your way there immediately, because this music sanctuary is not to be missed!

Stereo is at 858 ST. Catherine E.

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