Updated: Jul 8
I've been in Toronto nightlife for almost 20 years! I started off bouncing in 2005! I always heard this name: Joe Marella, but I never met him until summer of 2010.
I had just launched the Roosevelt Room to great fanfare the Fall before. We had an older, affluent crowd...and no patio. Which, if you know the city, is a deathknell for that crowd. they're on patios and at the cottage from May to September and boy did we feel it!
I spoke to my partners and they said we should reach out to Joe and setup a meetting. He had just launched our nearest competition DOLCE (the place which eventually became EFS).
They had just partnered with INK and Joe said he would love to come chat.
I asked him "what can we do better?" This is a guy who pioneered everything from value added service in clubs (thank you packs on the way out, food being served mid-party, members clubs), etc.
Legendary places like This Is London, Inside, Fluid, MUZIK and many more bore his signature.
He was an incredible DJ who also hired and trained some promoters who would go on to hire and train other promoters and open their own venues in this city.
Joe looked at me as I waited and braced myself. This guy knew his stuff...his answer?
"Nothing. You guys are doing everything right."
Market conditions are market conditions, he told me. He said we were amazing and he even uses us and our marketing as an example in meetings. We were in a tough location, high end venue in the middle of the entertainment district (Adelaide and Richmond), surrounded by clubs that didnt appeal to our clientele and no patio.
We did everything we could and we did it the right way, all we have to do is maintain until seasons change.
And with that...a Toronto nightlife legend validated me.
Nothing's ever come easy for me in life and that's fine. I've accepted it.
When my investors turned to me to open a $2 million dollar club, people said "Him?! The bouncer?!" and some even said to my face Roosevelt would fail in 3 months.
We went on to make the BIGGEST name in the city that even over a decade after she closed still rings bells in a city of millions. That means something. The fact that THE JOE MARELLA was looking me in the face and telling me "buddy, I couldn't do a better job!" blew me away.
Looking back at pictures and events, I realize one thing I never did is take my time to enjoy where I am at in life and I'm learning how to not do that this time around.
I've done some incredible things, so it seems like I live in the past, but its really I just didn't take a SECOND to enjoy what I was doing. It's always go, go, go. This time around I won't make that mistake.
Every smell, every sound, every moment is so precious and imporant. In my life I am no stranger to death. My familiarity with death keeps opening up new levels of self awareness.
With my heart condition, I can go to sleep and never wake up or drop dead on the street or the middle of a crowded dancefloor. This realization just pushes me to accept the inevitability and squeeze every bit of juice out of life in the present moment as I can.
This is work, but its also my life and its important to stop, be still and embrace the moments because before you know it, they will be all gone.
On Sunday July 9th, myself and dozens of other people whose lives Joe touched and careers he shaped come together to celebrate his life at Soluna and I would love for you to join us in celebrating our friend, Joe.
Proceeds going to support his family. Joe and his beautiful mom "Grams" who he has mourned for nearly 30 long years. Together again, finally.
See you on the dancefloor, buddy.