"For the past six years Prism has collaborated with Pride Toronto on events, talent and performers," Gairy Brown explains over drinks at the Gladstone Hotel one gloomy April afternoon. Brown has seen this relationship evolve having helmed Prism, the "gay wing" of Embrace, Canada's number promotional company, as its Director of Operations for the last nine years.
"This year we are unsure what's going on," Brown responds acknowledging there has been little communication with this year's Pride Toronto board. "However we look forward to working again with them as it is an imperative part Toronto's gay history and we are encouraged to help keep it relevant and moving in the right direction."
Like a symbiotic relationship, Prism Toronto and Pride Toronto have benefited from the international tourists both organizations attract to the city every summer. With Prism celebrating a milestone 15th anniversary, and Pride now in its 37th year, the relationship is just as important now than ever.
"The fact is we do have one of the strongest Prides in the world and this has really helped our event stay relevant," Brown explains. "We also do a good job of keeping up to date as to what is current within the circuit scene."
What is relevant and current this year is change. Change that will steer Prism (the number one summer circuit party series in North America) in a new direction while still holding true to its history of bringing Toronto some of the best gay talent in the world.
One such change is the long-standing Saturday daytime party, Aqua. Forget the sun block, this year the waterworks take place Friday at three in the afternoon and ends at eleven at night with a spectacular fireworks show that will highlight the picturesque waterfront that is home to this year's location, Cabana Pool Lounge. Instead of sexy shorts, swimsuits are advised as this is change in location enables the event to be billed as Prism's "first official pool party," reminiscent of the Splash party many years ago where performer Lena Love arrived by helicopter and then was whisked to the stage on the back of a motorcycle. Lastly, the party that brought Kelly Rowland to perform her huge David Guetta produced hit, When Love Takes Over, is this year showcasing Spanish singer Nalaya Brown whose song, Love Me Like A Diva, is climbing the charts. No stranger to large outdoor parties like Aqua, Brown can be heard headlining music festivals in Ibiza and around the world.
The other major change, which has been evolving slowly over the last two years, is the merging of the main party (always held on Saturday night) with Sunday nights Revival Party. With no grand event space available on a Saturday night this year Brown knew they needed to create a bigger experience on the Sunday. Both parties have always been the most attended Prism events, and by bringing them together Brown is confident a new event worthy of its new home inside the newly recreated Rebel Nightclub will be born.
"This year we have found a home to really bring Revival to the next level," boasts Brown. "It's going to propel Revival into a new era. This is the most loved party and the most internationally known. This party started with the Guvernment nightclub, and Rebel (also owned by Charles Kabbouth) is a completely modern version of that."
With over 15 million spent on this space, its 30 foot LED walls, three million dollar lighting system and spectacular sound system will showcase over a dozen go-go dancers and an aerial acrobatic circus main show starring Sofonda which will all come together to create an environment to stun the senses.
As 70% of the people who attend Revival (which has won several international circuit party awards) are tourists, it's still the perfect event to see old friends from out of town or hook-up with new ones that you may never see again. But also changing is the DJ. Having long been the domain of the late DJ Peter Rauhofer (the year the legendary Alan T performed over one of Rauhofer's tracks was unforgettable), this year DJ duo Rosabel becomes the new resident of Revival's new chapter.
"Peter was Revival," Brown gushes. His last set at Revival [before succumbing to brain cancer] was probably one of his best. "It was his favourite party to spin. Peter made Revival one of the most desirable gay parties in the world to attend."
Saturday's event will of course happen, but it will be a smaller, tech house party called Resist with DJs Abel and Tom Stephan at Nest. Boot Camp remains on Friday night at Fly Nightclub. And the final event, a you-won't-even-have-time-to-shower after-party, will take place, back at Fly at 6AM, immediately following Revival. But it will be a Fly unlike what anyone has ever seen. Dark and sexy, inspired by Brown's experiences in Amsterdam, the space will only be lit by powerful lasers that are being brought in specifically for this daytime party to end the weekend.
"I'm not at all worried about having the main party on a Sunday," Brown concludes. "You have to remember that so many people come in from out of town for this event. I expect this will still to be the case this year, even if there is uncertainly and controversy surrounding this years Pride parade and festival. Toronto Pride is changing. Prism is evolving."