Japan, New Jersey, New York, theshineprjct, Toronto, Travel, Vancouver

10 Travel Tips While On The Road

Are you a Snowbird or do you travel all year round for business? Are you switching climates or checking off your bucket list? Where are you headed? What do you need? How do you prepare for flights/trips? I’ve had a few things happen during trips and in some cases had to work around them here a few tips with bonus:

  1. Mail photocopies or digital versions of passport, birth certificates , frequent flyer cards or citizenship particulars. If/when those things go missing-if you’re able to get to an Embassy everything needed to travel can be replaced fast.
  2. Book your seat as soon as you book you ticket-most international flights and air carrier seats are gone right away-as fees have gone up on everything and most things that never used to be charged are now charged (emergency seating is now classified as extra-leg room seating) and can cost anywhere from $20-$100 more
  3. If you do have first aid training or emergency anything training-if you’re comfortable consider sitting at the emergency section. There are so many that panic during turbulence and may not remain calm during a REAL emergency-jus sayin’ (Ex-airline trainee over here!)
  4. Stay hydrated outside and inside (you’ll feel amazing once you land, no matter how long the flight is/was.) An Evian water atomizer or spring/distilled in a mini spray bottle is just fine
  5. Depending how far you go, stand-by is always a great option (Jet Blue’s stand-bys are cheap and organized)
  6. Save foreign currencies in jars so you can see what you have-you may not be headed to the same country again but you might be passing through a country’s airport and can use whatever bills and coins you have-it comes in handy and you don’t need to exchange any currency for a short stopover!
  7. Find the coldest place in your house when you return-leave your luggage there-let critters and bed bugs die. If it’s Winter where you are (even better) the garage. It is said that bed bugs and critters live in hotels in big cities and you may bring them back with you…..
  8. Get an effective mobile roaming package for your mobile-not all countries have the best wi-fi connections (if any). If your phone provider does not have a great one at least get one for free unlimited or broad text messaging. If that’s entirely not possible get an international SIM card with a local phone number i.e. Vodafone is an excellent company that operates in most cities worldwide.
  9. After I’ve used most of my travel sized products during my trip-I buy travel size products to re-fill my travel bag again from the country I’m in so it’s ready in my suitcase for the next trip. Don’t need to pack that again!
  10. If I plan on shopping and I’m staying in a country for a longer period of time and I know that I’ve used a small suitcase and I don’t want to carry anything around with me, I mail heavier items (via local post office) to my address. It usually arrives within days of arriving home and I’m still able to walk with a lighter load.
  • Bonus: Not all airlines have the same (flight) track record. Ask your travel agent to look up and research airlines that might not be well-known but have a flexible schedule and affordable price! I’ve generally always used Air Canada but there are other air carriers going to the same countries and leave more frequently, fly to other metropolitan cities in your designated country of choice and a few hundred dollars cheaper! 

There are plenty of tips and tricks out there to ensure an easier flight or travel experience. Is there anything YOU do to make the journey easier,cheaper or more organized? Please share! Safe travels 🙂

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DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, events, House Music, promoters, Reflections, theshineprjct, Toronto, Travel

In the Land of Windmills and Dance Music: 11 Things a House Head Should do at #ADE2017

25 years in the making and it shows! I was looking at where to visit and I chose the Netherlands (Amsterdam Dance Event) mostly because of their emphasis on technology. Amsterdam has been known to be forward thinking and many steps ahead in the way they run their society among other things…….Amsterdam Dance Event describes itself as ‘the leading electronic music platform and the biggest club festival in the world for the whole spectrum of electronic sub-genres’.

I absolutely admired ADE’s strong support for all genres. They welcome all sorts of DJ culture-regardless of colour, gender and preference.What I loved the most is the way the city embraced  & all the artists,press,delegates that were participating! There were posters,stickers and promo EVERYWHERE!

I personally loved this scene so much and in several days I took in some DNB, Classic,Deep, Tech and Afro House-it was all-inclusive. It was crazy fun! I met all kinds of people-all music enthusiasts from all over the world in town for ONE thing: music! I met some of the same people at many events. Some enthusiasts from Belgium asked me where I was headed because they were so used to checking out the same artists everywhere.

Before and After a Music FestivalI truly wished I had gone a few years prior. I can’t wait until they expand even more. Jokes aside with memes depicting festival burnout, after the 6 hour flight from Toronto to Schipol Airport it was not tiring at first…… but after 48 hours………with all the excitement and party line-up-I crashed!

 

The one thing that really caught my attention was the Health and Wellness program dedicated to festival burnout and Dance Music/Club Culture. With all the networking events,panel discussions and parties-there were daily yoga and meditation sessions available for whoever needed it. Panel discussions like  [Protecting Mental & Physical Health for Fans & Professionals], and “Who is Responsible for the Mental Health of an Artist?” are very important discussions to be had in any industry.

I was floored by the holistic/health and wellness shops on every corner-shops all over the city carrying products I still have to order online lol! From sprinkles on buttered toast and fresh fruit and smoothies on Albert Cuyp Straat……the contrast was so refreshing. Everything was within walking distance-once you get the subway/streetcar line down pat-you can get anywhere within minutes. A sleek UBER from Schipol Airport takes you to the main city in a 15 min car ride!

The drivers, airport staff and city all expectedly ask you if you’re there for ADE and they have tons of information at their fingertips to help you navigate the city! (LOVE IT!) October is a bit chilly so bundle up with layers and your favourite walking shoes!

DRUGS and ADE! Everyone is aware ADE exists here and speak highly of the event. All drugs are tested before they are brought into venues to avoid injury and/or death! I highly respect this approach because Dance is often intertwined with hard drugs and this is a primary method to eradicate the misconception behind it.Total props!!!!!

Testlocaties-ADE-2017They push for body positive health awareness. I praise their drug education and push for ‘healthier’ usage instead of the ‘war on drugs’.

As drugs are often synonymous with club culture they do encourage safe usage and responsibility for fellow party-goers. It’s impressive.

All aspects of the scene are considered, and openly discussed. Room is made available to talk about the future of the industry. Panel discussions covering technology from equipment- to vinyl’s revival all had a space to showcase,teach and exchange ideas. ADE University teamed up with labels to discuss how they can improve websites, apps and ticket sales to boost revenue and allocate funds in an organized fashion.

I’m not sure if it’s organization is a Dutch thing or that it’s 25 years in the making, but whatever they are doing is beyond music for music’s sake.

I did find their app a little complicated to maneuver and also found it hard to navigate some of the workshops and networking locations around the city. However, all the flags and physical landmarks labelled everywhere made up for the app. I really wanted to attend more events but there are so many programs happening at the same time and back to back that by week’s end-I knew I’d be coming back! All these years I’d only stopped over at Schipol Airport and was finally able to visit and was  so grateful for!

The highlights of the week were the Detroit Love Party (Mirko Loko,Waajeed,Carl Craig,Kenny Larkin,Stacey Pullen,Kevin Saunderson and Moodyman) EPIC partay.

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Detroit Love 2

One of the final night parties at Paradiso (Louie Vega, Joey Negro, Francois K,Space Dimension Controller,Prins Thomas,Amine K,Beesmunt Soundsystem,Jan van Kampen) was memorable!

PARADISO

Honourable mentions go to the guys over at Cuisine 020 (Bar Karakter)-DJ Migosy (Offering Recordings), DJ Andrew Foley (Deep Rooted Soul), and AMW Gill Charleston-it was a tight-knit LIVE joint! Had a great time! I’m sure by October this year………

11 things to do in Amsterdam (during ADE ) if you’re a House Head or purveyor of Dance Music

  • Go to the Amsterdam Dance Event, check out as many genres as you can……
  • Take naps in between events-you’ll wake up refreshed for your next workshop
  • Go to the artist panels/talks (they are so informative and inspirational)
  • Check out the good eats (so many amazing restaurants-if the locals are in it- it’s the shit!)
  • Buy some records, take in new music say hello to your fave and upcoming DJs (the environment is so chill out there!)
  • Club Hop, there are so MANY amazing events, all on the same night, check out all of them!
  • Purchase tickets in advance from home (they sell out FAST-months in advance), make sure you can actually attend all the events once you arrive!
  • Check out the Heineken Museum
  • Go to a local Coffee House and meet some interesting people, try out the green (if you feel like it!) It feels fabulous to be at a place where there are no issues with green treats-you’ll find many,many,many strains and flavoured paper 🙂
  • Don’t forget to browse in as many weed shops as you can-Many of the shops get most of their best strains from Canada (betcha didn’t know that!) *wink,wink
  • Link up with people who you’ll be able to work with later on-you just never know!!!!

Bravo #ADE2017 see you people at #ADE2018!

Food, Gifts, House Music, Japan, Okinawa, Osaka, restaurants, Travel

Return to Japan!

#10yearslater

I remember being interviewed after applying for this teaching job and not knowing what to expect….they asked me where I wanted to work and I told them straight away Tokyo. They weren’t sure that I’d like Tokyo because it was expensive and overcrowded. Okay. I knew I wanted to be some place where the nightlife was amazing and where I’d never have a shortage of stuff to do BUT I knew then that Osaka’s where I wanted to be.

The interviewer showed me a map and pointed out the distances between cities and showed some of the main attractions of each major city. He made mention that all if not most of Osaka’s comedians, musicians, artists and entertainers came from there and I knew that was the better option. He had lived in that city he told me that they had a MASSIVE Tower Records store and that I could walk right in and lounge there like a Chapters/Indigo or Barnes & Noble. I read up about Osaka but none of the textbook info got my attention as much as the recruiter did that day!

When I returned to Toronto I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to go back and wasn’t too sure if I’d visit again. Ten years was the perfect time!

2006-2016

Special thanks to Sojourner Travel (8A-1444 Dupont St in Toronto) for the research! So many very different things I experienced the first time while I lived there. My StepMom came with me…..we had some awesome memories together. The trip to Japan was something we tried to plan for years BUT 2016 was the perfect time!!!

Finding Your Flight

This trip took a few months to plan. I started looking at flights in July for October. The air carrier options provided by the travel agent were China Eastern, Air Canada, Air China, ANA or Korean Air. Some of the rates were EXCELLENT. But after checking and browsing I saw the layovers were a day or more. China Eastern had a whole day stay so I looked into roaming the streets once we arrived to see what it was like in China but (in order to stay a day or more in China a visa is required.) Air Canada was the best option. The 13 hour flight went from Toronto–Tokyo-Osaka. Instead of booking additional travel from Toronto I decided to book within Japan. It’s so much cheaper and a little more accessible. I asked one of my good friends within Japan (Hey,Kina Jackson!Thanks so much!) and she recommended Vanilla Air and Peach Air ! Vanilla Air didn’t go to many places that I wanted and I didn’t see Okinawa on the list. The prices on Peach Air are amazing! Depending on the day,prices range anywhere from $100-$250 roundtrip! Naha, the capital city is quite small so the airport is tiny and the flights are infrequent. If you are interested in booking on Peach Air-be mindful about the way you book when you select the day of the week, location and times-the website is a little tricky.

I looked at my itinerary and realized that it was the same month and week I had left Toronto 13 years prior. (insert nostalgia here.) I really hoped I’d be able to see friends that I had contacted in such a short time. I saw so much shit I didn’t notice the first time around so it was like visiting a brand new place. There were English speaking support staff EVERYWHERE and at every info desk!! I was so concerned about my limited Japanese….I didn’t have to use it as much and when I did-I forgot how much I remembered!! Props to Google Translate for assisting us in areas where people don’t talk to tourists as much!

Japan Airlines

 

Our flight arrived into Haneda (Tokyo) Airport and after an hour we got a flight connection to Osaka (Hitami) Airport! The connecting flight was quick and the food was awesome (choice between Japanese or Western cuisine).

Book Your Accommodations From Home
At the time of the trip I forgot that Air BNBs were not legal in Japan. The Japanese government is reviewing their decision to have the business operate legally within the country. Be prepared to call ahead once you arrive to your city in Japan. The addresses listed on the website booking aren’t the same once you arrive and Taxi Drivers are not too helpful when they can’t find the address you listed. Call your Host to be sure that the address listed is the one you will be staying at. It helps you save time.

I went back to the old office building I used to work in (Downtown Namba, Osaka. The (Nova) office is no longer there but the building is still there. Lots of hustle and bustle at the OCAT (Osaka City Air Terminal). In #10years Osaka has become busier, more densely populated and more tourist friendly! The underground walkways (Shotengui) are filled with flags from all over the world. This wasn’t the case before.

Osaka is one of those cities where there is ALWAYS something going on and there is ALWAYS somewhere to eat.

We visited an awesome Indian Restaurant that I used to frequent with friends. Whenever we wanted a very heavy and spicy portion of food we used to go to Asiyana. Surprisingly, Asiyana was still open! It’s not that the restaurant wasn’t good it’s that foreign food restaurants don’t always stay open for long. Asiyana doesn’t cater to the Japanese palate.It’s spicy, flavourful and authentic.

asiyana-restaurant

The Balls……

Osaka is known for it’s Tako-Yaki balls. They are battered and crepe textured with bits of Octopus, shrimp and a parsely like seasoning. In that crepy textured batter they put puffed rice, green onions, chopped octopus. This batter is poured into circular shaped grills, oiled so they don’t stick and they are rotated as they cook with little skewers. After they are removed  and drizzled with Teriyaki Sauce and fish flakes.It tastes amazing! It’s had been a long time since I had them.

 

Mobile Phone Rental/Pocket Wi-Fi

Most Air BNBs should have pocket wi-fi units. IF it does- it’s great and saves you money and time. The pocket wi-fi can be carried around the city with and you can hook your mobile phones to it to browse the net or use Google Maps. Pocket wi-fis look like old Nokia flip phones and must be charged daily. Not all airports have rental kiosks/booths so one of the first things to do is find a kiosk or station in the city. I used my phone quite a bit to find buildings, shrines, shopping malls and restaurants. My bill when I returned was HUGE! Your phone carrier may not have a great international plan especially for a country like Japan. Japanese phone carriers Docomo,Vodafone,Sofbank all have centres to set up your SIM cards and phone rentals. Find the best for the duration of your stay. I wish I knew……

Okinawa Was a Last Minute Add-On

I found some amazing Air BNBs all over the island but settled for an apartment on the main road in Naha, Wakasa-Dori Wakasa (若桜町, Wakasa-chō)  has everything on it food shops, 24 Hour Conbinis (convenience stores), clubs, the post office (where you can use your international ATM card for withdrawals) and many, many clubs, Karaoke Bars.

Downtown Okinawa

Naha Port is One Straight Path (Everyone told us to go straight)

This main road runs straight through from the highway from the airport to Naha Port. Naha Port can be reached on foot in less than 15 mins. All the Ferry boats that travel to the smaller beaches and islands near Naha leave 3 times a day! Passengers can choose whether they’d like to stay overnight for a few nights or return the same day with a Travel and Tourism board of Naha. There are money booths that look like ATMS where you can check for the exchange rate for whatever currency you have and exchange it for Japanese Yen! It’s such a lifesaver-you get the exact rate for whichever country’s currency you need!

Spending a whole day there felt like a whole weekend! What can I say about it? It’s beautiful! I’m not sure why I never visited there when I lived there. It’s pretty breathtaking. It’s an island next to an island.  The ferry boat takes about an hour and 45 minutes and it’s a comfortable ride on a fully equipped mini cruise liner. The cost is about $60 CDN with a television and luxury seating. You can sit indoors (AC) and outdoors (AIR). Going from the urban city to the Tropics on one island is amazing! When the Ferry boat arrives you find your seat, secure your day bag and go to sleep or enjoy the sun!

Tokashiku Village

Shuttle vans and taxi drivers are waiting for guests to drive you to one of the 8-10 beaches across the coast. It’s not a long ride but depending how much time you have it’s an amazing experience to visit at least more than two!We stopped at the first beach and there were at least 10 people on the beach.

 

 

The Food is Amazing

My favourite restaurant was an Okinawan style place. The special thing about Okinawa is it’s island location, history and close proximity to Taiwan. The food is AMAZING. Spicy,full of variety and unique from the usual Japanese cuisine! So tasty I went there twice! Each set of tables in the restaurant were like mini Izakayas (Gastropub) with curtains (small food pubs). What an incredible culinary adventure! Look at the food! We headed over to Kokusaidori (国際通り, Kokusaidōri, literally “International Road”) All souvenirs are there! Every souvenir that you can find signature to Okinawa is on this street. You have to walk up and down the street to compare prices. You’ll find sea salt products; cakes, cookies, chopsticks,Blue Seal Ice Cream German Bundt Style Cake and all kinds of tropical destination clothing. One of Okinawa’s gifts to Japan is the Okinawan Sweet potato or ‘Imo’-it’s one of the tastiest things EVER! There are samples of those cookies EVERYWHERE!

 

 

Records/Vinyl

I set out to check out the nightlife and I was pleasantly surprised. Shocked even. Most if not all venues look like dive bars from the outside and hold at least 200+ people. While walking down Wakasa St. I stumbled on the area’s ONLY record shop. It’s cute! Naminoue Record Shop is well equipped with all genre CDs and vinyl with new shipments arriving everyday. They run most of the city’s block parties, street festivals and club nights. I went to most of their events all weekend while  I was there. Local and international talent come through all month. I was shocked and excited to sift through their selections. I went straight for their Japanese artists and production section and found VERY good stuff! I’m mostly interested in Japan only releases! The place is pretty chill with all kinds of people passing through. I returned twice to pick up goodies. The shop was a lot smaller than King Kong in Osaka but the selection was very unique. I picked up a few mix CDS of really great DJs from other cities in Japan! They are excellent at promoting their local artists around town, in other parts of Japan and to tourists…..there’s a little photography display and artwork with t-shirts; all kinds of stuff! There’s a little DJ booth for live DJs to play out the hottest tunes! One of the highlights of my vacation! I went to a great party- the guest DJ Moochy Juzu (Crosspoint Japan/Juno Records) played the stuff I loved. Four all you SOulFul and Deep House heads. He played Josh Milan, Osunlade, Vikter Duplaix and added in his own production which was interesting. It’s Tribal House but from a more Okinawan and Traditional Japanese sound. I was surprised. IT was very unique and to hear a set that spoke to Japanese Heads was refereshing. Here’s his SoundCloud if you wanted to check it out. He’s an excellent DJ/Producer!!

naminoue logo

Department Store Shopping

Visiting department stores in Japan is quite an experience. When you’ve been to one of them in Japan, you’ll never look at them the same again! It is a fully loaded one stop shop. They’ve got prepared food in the basement. All kinds of foods! All Flagship store brands are definitely available all over Japan! The best and most inexpensive things to look for are cosmetics, Body Care tools,perfume and face care!  Make sure that the day you go around any of these shops-make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes and dedicate a whole day or more to look around. These department stores are enormous! One of the biggest Department Stores in the City (Yodobashi Camera) has the most products and best prices in the city! The recliner section is filled with people taking naps and ‘trying’ out the merchandise!

massage chair tokyu hands

Tourists get tax discounts at some stores and either the taxes are taken off ahead of time-and you’re given your taxes back in cash. Goods are re-packaged and prepared for your departure. If a store chain doesn’t offer the tax breaks right away, you will be given a map to locate a city tax centre. This is done so it’s easier to clear customs at the airport.There are tax-free stations at most large retailers where you can claim your taxes on some purchases. At those stations associates check them and pre-wrap them for your trip and a clearance form is stapled to your passport.  It’s a great system!

IMG_5968.JPG

 

I could go on about my trip BUT definitely it’s a country worth visiting. #10yearslater it’s still growing and still as fascinating as it was then. It’s great to visit again when you’re no longer a resident. You notice things more. Late October is an amazing time to visit. The weather is fabulous! It’s like July. Pack light, pack Summer stuff. Pack a few great sweaters and don’t forget to stay hydrated. Eat as much as you want! You’ll do a lot of walking! Have a great time!

events, Food, House Music, Music, New York, promoters, Reflections, restaurants, Travel

Travel Inspiration – Return to New York City

It’s been a minute (like 3-4 years) and glad I went this summer! So much to do out there-tons of new food places/establishments to see! My return to NYC was amazing! I’m nostalgic because this is kinda the reason why the blog started. Travel provides a sense of wonder and inspiration. This is probably where my motivation comes from.

As always its essential to figure out where to stay. I’ve stayed at different hostels, homes and hotels but this time I chose to stay somewhere accessible, comfortable and a little swanky…..It’s a smaller hotel located on the Lower East of Manhattan the best things about it is mainly it’s location. The Smyth is located at a point where three stops east you’re in Brooklyn four-seven stops west you’re in Chinatown. This makes travelling around on foot, Uber or NYCT cheaper and safer. The Smyth (Thompson) is a small but stylish hotel on Broadway Ave next to subway, Whole Foods and a Barnes & Noble.

The service is amazing there! The staff is on point and the Bellman knows where to send guests for the best inexpensive/expensive food, nightlife and the nearest Duane Reade! The exchange rate wasn’t too great- for Canadians visiting make change at home. There are 2 other Thompson locations in Manhattan and this area is the best to get to BK, Bronx or Coney Island! The hotel lounge has a homey feel-looks very much like a cozy living room.

I didn’t wanna stay on the premises for long BUT decided to have breakfast at the restaurant connected to the hotel one morning.  It’s a quaint French-style Bistro looking small from outside; when you walk inside it’s filled with people ALL day. The menu is amazing and all breakfast items have a little variation to it. This restaurant is inspired by famous chef James Beard, this you’ll notice from the decor to the meal presentation. It’s good food. There’s a full service bar and patio on the premises. The whole restaurant is quite an experience.

 

Walking around the city and also with how HOT it was there; There were many stops for water, snacks and more food. Favourites include any Afro-Muslim food places. They are clean and have a crazy variety to choose from. Speaking of African food, I purchased tickets to the Afropolitan NYC Food Festival! It was held at The Brooklyn Navy Yard quite a ways deep into BK but for a fairly new culinary event to the city, it was very interesting. Foods from all over Africa made from local NY rising chefs and well-known establishments in the area were in attendance. The restaurant booth with the most line ups were the Eritrean and Ethiopian foods. There were South African wine samples, Afrobeat DJs and refreshments. It was a hot-ass day. Any refreshments they sold were a welcome relief. The food actually looked like the picture and tasted amazing.

 

*Pics taken from https://www.facebook.com/theafricanfoodfestival/ page! My camera was overloaded with photoshots! Couldn’t find my pics.I’m sure they’ll turn up somewhere 🙂

One more noteworthy food place Brooklyn Greenery-a hidden gen on Flatbush Ave. You can take the B,Q and S trains to Prospect Park Station. It’s a healthy, healthy place but what got me is the Hip-Hop Smoothie and Green Juice names. You have your choice of a small or large Supreme Clientele (Pineapple, Carrot, Green Apple), Mos Def, Queen Bee or Redman drinks. And to make your taste buds multitask you also hear your fave Dead Prez or Method Man playing for support. The place is immaculate and earthy. They run live shows in the shop and it is treated like a community meeting place. This shop has an each one teach one concept-they have a shelf filled with books where you can drop some off and pick some up. Besides it’s Hip-Hop enviro, the main reason it’s a gem is that it’s located amongst dozens of Popeyes’, Pizza joints and Golden Crusts-all of which have one too many calories to eat on a hot day! They really stand out on that block. Here’s a quote written by a Yelper about BKG: ‘The names of the smoothies and drinks are relevant and fitting for the times. The price is worth it.’ TOTALLY.Brooklyn Greenery

Now, on the holistic tip. I visited Namaste Bookshop. Wasn’t too fond of the name but the amount of people there……you’d want to walk in just to see what the hype was about. Lots of books, Crystals, incense EVERYWHERE. There were mini workshops and Tarot card readings going on. From the looks of it-it was as if everyone is looking to expand their minds at the same time. There people asking associates all kinds of questions about body ailments and meditation tips. This shop smelled amazing. It’s sensory overload when you walk in there! Lots of trinkets to see……

namasteinside

I ate so much but burned it off with walking and dancing of course! This was my favourite part of the whole trip. There’s always something to do anywhere/somewhere in Williamsburg,NY. My favourite record store (Dancetracks) is gone so I headed over to the newer ‘gentry-fied’ Halcyon in BK. The music is still the focus. One thing I love about many establishments in New York are that they double or triple as a few things. This is wonderful for business as it brings many people to one spot at any given time. Over at Halycon you can drink coffee, listen to live DJ sets, sample records you’d like to purchase, party on the rooftop or party inside! (Output) I arrived when sound check was going on before the big event-their soundsystem was ridic……..I brought back some goodies-can’t wait to spin with them!

On of the main things I do down there is shop at the black beauty supply stores for cheaper or larger sized products and summer clothes. I visited a very neat flea market. A very stylish one with handmade but fashion forward. Who needs a mall? I found plenty of that EVERYWHERE!

The highlight of the whole trip was BBE’s 10th Anniversary celebration for JDilla’s ‘The Shining’. Parties for this anniversary celebration were held all across the U.S.and I’m sure the others were just as amazing!  It was an incredibly epic night. All kinds of freestylin’, all types of horn players. Guest birthday boy/ bad-ass drummer Daru Jones (Jack White of former White Stripes) killed it!  Subrosa NYC hosts an event ‘Soul in The Horn’ on Fridays where Soul, Jazz,Hip-Hop and any other genre meet. Hosted by Dj Natasha Diggs and friends, I was blown away. The Shining was celebrating FULLY that night. Guest DJs Rich Medina & DJ Scratch attended. Have a listen to a snippet from that night at>>>>>> Soul In The Horn

There’s so much more I can share here but if you’ve been to NY, you’d know that your adventures/travel preferences would completely differ from mine! If you head to the Big Apple, I’ve mentioned some places definitely worth checking out. Come by and visit shine2u.wordpress.com every now and then to see what I’ll be listening to and where I’ll be!

-shine

 

Establishments, Fashion & Beauty, Music, restaurants, Travel, Vancouver

VAN City!

 

I’d never been to the West Coast to stay-so I stayed for a bit. Definitely a sleepier vibe than Toronto but VERY beautiful! I’m a city girl at heart but visiting a place like this, right here in Canada is AMAZING!

What’s going on over there? Plenty and not much at the same time. One of the things Vancouver is known for the beauty and landscape. It was a lot cooler than expected for June but still mild. I ventured over to the main spot over there (Stanley Park.) It borders downtown Vancouver…..so wherever you are in the core you still get a glimpse of the water and some smaller mountains. Tourists from everywhere usually venture here first….just like I did!

 

 

The bridge above is also known as the Lions Gate Bridge because of the (pair of mountains to the North.) It’s a suspension bridge that connects North Vancouver, the North Shore and West Vancouver. Instead of going over explaining what all these photos are-have a look!

 

All this fresh air, space and trees had me itching to head back over to the city…..so many awesome places in the city! One of the things about Vancouver City is that most things close early. (Early like Toronto early!) Each spot delivers a unique experience where places have to close early. Each has a style or vibe that is very unique to that neighbourhood.

I visited the Shameful Tiki Bar in the Soma or South Main Area of Vancouver-a trendy and upcoming strip/area looking very similar to the location on Queen St. West!  I walked into this spot and there was nothing shameful about it all! It’s tucked away and the windows are completely covered. I opened the door only to find a mini South Pacific Island indoor bar that looks like it’s outside! The drumming, the grass thatched roofs and the mini replicas of Giant Moai Statues really add character and finishing touches.

 

One signature thing about The Shameful Tiki-is the mystery drink offer on the menu. Each time a group of people order this massive bucket with long straws,  a Polynesian drum goes off to announce which table purchased it! This drum went off all night LOL. For $40 CDN-you receive an unknown drink for 6-8 people. You just try to see what it tastes like!

A few blocks down, we headed over to El Camino’s. From Hawaii to Latin America all on one strip. Definitely even more lively than the first. They boast an incredible Taco menu-all kinds of tacos almost too many to decide what to order. The food was great, the aperitifs were tasty (white wine & tequila), the appetizer (lime & pepper flavoured popcorn) got things going before the tacos!

I was on the transit and saw the infamous Hastings street and couldn’t pass up the vinyl shop visit! I spotted Vinyl Records and walked right in! What a great selection of records! I saw some very rare items-but I did notice that we’re definitely lucky to find some serious deals over here in Toronto! If you’re looking to splurge, looking for something you can’t find online or looking for collectors pieces, Vinyl Records is your spot! I only stopped off at this one BUT there are so many in Vancouver.

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Every time I travel…I love checking out the same stuff. I really like ’em. I headed over to Robson and Burrard St. and walked right past Bang On! -a custom t-shirt print shop. I walked into the largest vintage store in Canada! (Special shout out to Riem the shop manager for allowing me to film and photograph inside the shop!) The merchandising in there is phenomenal!

If you can-check it out over there it’s worth the trip! 🙂

 

 

 

DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, events, House Music, Knowledge, Movers & Shakers, Music, promoters, Social Media, theshineprjct, Toronto, Travel

House Music Series – Toronto LOCAL -The Boxing Loft Social Club – Installment 4 – A Commitment to Excellence (Original article no misquotes here) :D

*Please be mindful, there may be multiple versions of the article posted elsewhere. This is THE original article. There are many House DJs,artists,promoters all over Toronto. Be sure to check HERE. No one is above anyone else. No one is more supported than anyone else. The House Community should be a place where many people can showcase their work,make people move and most importantly show the world what we have here. (Not divisive in nature.) I would never support one movement,genre,sound,crew,mixer,club-over the other. I would never post anything that suggested that either. It’s highly unfortunate that more interviews couldn’t be successfully completed throughout the city…..oh well 👍🏾

The language used in the other versions were NOT the words spoken or recorded during the interview. Please check for misquotes and re-structured sentences and phrasing. Fact check for accurate info. I repeat there are so many people who contribute to the scene all over the city. As I started this section, my intention wasn’t to say one thing was better than another.

I’ve got many friends who visit this city and don’t know where to go if they want to hear good sounds and many are not aware that Toronto has a burgeoning House or Techno scene. We had an amazing interview, Emile. This is NOT what was said. No loss in translation. (Names of artists, hosts, promoters or venues might be preferential to the individual expressing that in the interview but if anyone has ever quoted anything sounding very odd-know that it is edited before it is posted here.)

(Emile, please don’t misquote our discussion, that’s not what was said.)* 

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From a gig as paralegal to event party planner to disciplined athlete turned boxing instructor and now accomplished business man-Emile Awe Reed is one focused individual seeking excellence.

I’d been to Loft SC a few times…I wondered who was behind  its open concept. I chatted with Emile via Skype a little over a week ago and talked about it quite a bit….

How House Music has influenced his life: Music has always been a part of his life. He was in the choir at school. He attended North Western State University and was a member of their Choir. He grew up listening to Nana Maskari, Harry Belafonte among very many unique artists. He grew up listening to Classic Rock and loved bands like The Who and Led Zeppelin. He still hadn’t embraced House by then yet but by the 80s and 90s  (the most influential era in my House Music opinion) and really got into Reggae.

He notes that it was not until one of the longest running Toronto parties (Twilight Zone) that created the connection. He started attending events in (2004).
During a difficult time in his life he truly embraced House. He eventually met DJ Gene King who always mentioned the importance of an ‘open mind’.They are now business partners! Look out for UDM (Underground Dance Music) parties they throw twice a year!

House Music IS Just So Cool: He opened The Boxing Loft Social Club. House music’s sole purpose at the Boxing Club serves as a pace-setter for boxing technique (shadowboxing) and foot technique. ‘Boxing still uses rhythm just like dance….. Reed tells me with conviction,’most of the House I hear, I love…if you want to be a good boxer, you’ve got to be good at everything-a complete fighter…this is why I fight to music’.

Unlike many…..I had no idea ‘The Boxing Loft’ was an actual boxing gym! As a brand marketing pro-star I thought it was a well-crafted brand image that simply brought people together-along with a prop stage boxing ring (silly me)! With ‘Inspired Gatherings’ happening frequently, ‘Social Club’ is exactly what it is. There are arts focused events, boxing instruction and dance party events all happening within those four walls! The social component never ends!

Reed started running events at 199 Queen St. E in 2004 and ran into snags with liquor permits for locations and capacity violations. It made sense to find a permanent home for events and voilà: The Boxing Loft was born! Growing up he watched Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and learnt that during their time social clubs were VERY popular. People with similar interests gathered to socialize and grow their memberships. This is what the future will look like at the Boxing Loft!

The Way Emile Sees It: Reed has a way he does business with co-organizers in the scene. ‘I’m always gonna be upfront and real with people…I’m a new cat, I’m still learning….I like to work with anyone who is willing to learn, you need others in order to attain wealth….With more people there’s power…I’m a business person first….You have to be respectful…It’s not just about me’. <<<shine’s thing too!

Misquoted elsewhere. Working With the Local Toronto House Behind-the-scenes promo people: If it wasn’t for my team, I wouldn’t be here without hosts and promoters. (if I didn’t mention you, I apologize) I removed the names because it seemed to cause issue. You are the ones that enable my name to get out there. I appreciate that they have helped me brand The Boxing Loft. Even though I’m the boss-I don’t stand alone…..I’d be nowhere if the DJs didnt play in my space.

shine’s words added here>>>SO MANY AMAZING KEY PLAYERS THAT MAKE UP THE CITY’s scene-I WISH IT WAS AN EVEN BIGGER SCENE with a unified platform to bring more people from overseas to (Toronto). Absolutely no shade. 

DJs as Artists:How Does That Work? (Misquoted section)<<<click here

DJs should be validated as artists. I have an idea of how DJs should play. This is how/why I choose who plays at The Boxing Loft. DJs like Yogi,Stan Zeff, Zepherin Saint,Ian Friday, Josh Milan, Joe Rizla. DJs of THAT calibre-this is how I choose. I try to keep the DJ guest choices at a certain level…..you know that standard…..As an athlete I strive to be the best, same as the DJs. I have to make sure I shine so the DJ shines and the underground’ll shine. I want The Boxing Loft to act like an advocate for House Music. <<<<<<<(there are many groups, that are very good, that sound good and have large, medium or small followings all over Toronto-it doesn’t make anyone better or worse.)

What to expect at The Boxing Loft:

No drugs allowed inside (it’s a sports venue and creative space too!)

Make sure as you enter TBL you can somehow relate to what you’re taking in (art/music/sport)

Come in with an open mind

You will always be treated well

It’s a place with an incredible vibe

You too can box or dance at The Boxing Loft Social Club….For events visit Twitter @TheBoxingLoftSC  or their website http://theboxingloft.com/

*Please be mindful, there may be multiple versions of the article posted elsewhere. This is the original article. There are many House DJs,artists,promoters all over Toronto. Be sure to fact check HERE. No one is above anyone else.All key players as a WHOLE contribute in many ways. People visiting Toronto internationally should be able to visit many venues to party safely during their stay here. Please check for misquotes. Fact check for real info. All media outlets are used as informative vehicles for change and to build legacy. The section of this blog was intended to bring all types of people to Toronto to embrace all genres of House. This article was not intended to be divisive in nature. I enjoy House music. And this section is all about it.Don’t take offense until you know what you’re reading is TRUE. Don’t misquote or force something that wasn’t said. (Updated in 2018-had no idea this was altered elsewhere!)

-shine

Biography, DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, events, House Music, Japan, Knowledge, Movers & Shakers, Music, Osaka, promoters, Reflections, Toronto, Travel

END OF YEAR House Music Series – House of Pela – Afrobeta Bodega Boston

I got a flyer from the SecSeeTemp<3 ladies of house (Brigette,Denise) a few weeks back that read ‘House of Pela’.  It looked like the sticker label for a bottle of hot sauce. Hot sauce ain’t bad….. What’s a House of Pela? What’s an ‘Afrobeta Bodega’?  I asked proud Dominican DJ via Boston all that. So you buy House of Pela products at the Afrobeta Bodega….now I understand. You get a variety of beats, sounds and ideas at the Afrobeta Bodega on the corner all the way from Boston. Sooo…Afro sound, culture, vibe,essence+Beta (first test version)=Afrobeta.

What’s in Boston? I’d visited a few months back to visit a friend working there. I desperately checked all house outlets for shows, parties, events…..maybe it was Winter. Yes, that’s it. No house events happen in Boston because it’s too cold. I checked all my fave ‘selecta’ websites to see tour dates….NOTHING. I took to Twitter -my hub of information and asked a former BET VJ who happens to be a Boston native and she told me:

Free response on Twitter

Soooo to meet a Max Pela from Boston….I had some questions. Where’s the community? Where’s the underground? Who’s the audience? How did Afrobeta start? Why are you in Toronto? Boston seems VERY straight-laced is what I thought….I got schooled. NAGA  has a laid back vibe as a lounge, restaurant and club.  The home of House of Pela is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The home of MIT….the prestigious school. This is always where the underground thrives. Near the schools…the house community must be pretty awesome. Pela sites all kinds of musical influences that he enjoyed in phases- Afro Dominican roots music like Palo, Salve and Gaja from Haiti.

He grew up with rural Dominican cultural influences and he really emphasizes Haitian musical influences which is great to hear considering many of the sociopolitical cultural divides that’s rocked the Dominican Republic for many years. He transitioned from Rock to Old School Hip-Hop to 90s house (this is where it all begins), Tribal, Progressive overall he gravitated to anything with deeper content….

So what does Afrobeta do? Max describes on the site that he is constantly searching ‘ for a specific sound….and has a fondness for non-conventional producers’….what’s non-conventional? He answers ‘anyone can  make music, there many unknowns out there’d like to give them a platform to show what they have….show what makes them unique ; it could even be the old school music production’ I told him that I checked the roster of artists on the site:

All of them have a great body of work. But Marquez- Is the person who told him about US in Toronto! He gave Max the thumbs up and props to come to Toronto! (Shout out to all supporters and enthusiasts of the Toronto house scene!) At afrobetabodega you’ll find live sets, studio recordings, podcasts, news and general musings of  underground house. It’s a work in progress and he mentions that an international expansion is in order.

In 2014 Max wants to make House of Pela a household name and continue to throw successful events. He wants to continue putting Boston on the map. See: TRAXSOURCE. I always ask this because I do feel its important for anyone embarking down creative paths; What advice does House of Pela founder give? – Take risks. ‘If you’ve gotta leave the 9-5 makes sure it’s planned and calculated…..do what makes you happy. If it’s the energy of what you do that drives you, let it be the driving force…there will be times you want to quit…rest assured there will be that one person who will wake you up to keep you going’

House of Pela It’s been fun putting these blog posts out! Follow me in 2014 as I take @theshineprjct  in other directions…. -shine