Accordion, Instrument of the Gods It Happened to Me Music Toronto (a.k.a. Accordion City)

From the Archives: The Harness at "Money", May 2000

This Is London

Back in 2000, I made a little extra pocket money with the accordion thanks to a club booking agent named Joa. Joa worked for a club called This is London, a “meet market” for the investment bankers, Andersen consultants and the like, and the women who wanted to hook up with them.

Joa hired me to add strange twists to the evening. Sometimes the job was simply to stand on top of the DJ booth and play Deee-Lite’s Groove is in the Heart (a terribly easy song; it’s got a I-IV pattern in the key of A flat) on the accordion along with the DJ. Othertimes, it was a little mor einvolved, such as the time when she put a beret on me and had me perform a Paris-in-the-twneties version of Fatboy Slim’s Praise You (another easy song in A flat; this one’s got a VII-IV-I pattern).

These gigs never lasted longer than three minutes, after which I was given $100 and asked to promptly leave the club. Although anyone who performed at the club was allowed to enter without forking over the $20 cover — clubs often use ridiculous cover charges as a sort of “class filter” — performers weren’t allowed to be part of the club crowd on the night they performed.

“Nothing against you, Joey darling,” as Joa would constantly remind me, “but there needs to be a wall between artist and audience, you see.”

Since I was effectively being paid $2000 an hour and since my friends were waiting for me at the dance club down the street, I didn’t complain. Besides, the drinks at This is London were ridiculously overpriced and I often overheard banter like “If you stand him on his money, he gets taller.”


In May of that year, Joa called me and asked if I’d like to try something a little different. She also booked acts for a club called “Money” (for an idea of what the club is like, see this photo gallery).

Money’s dance floor had a really high ceiling, over which the storage rooms and offices were located. Someone had cut a hole in the floor of the storage room/office level, through which they often lowered go-go dancers in a harness to swing high above the audience. Joa had come up with the idea to lower me, with my accordion, and have me play along with a DJ tune while suspended above the audience. They gave me a trial run, during which I played along with I Will Survive. Hooking up a microphone to me seemed to be more work than the sound guy wanted to do and the manager wasn’t terribly enamored with the whole accordion concept, so the plan was scrapped. Still, for a brief shining I moment, I got to have my own wire team and I did play accordion in mid-air.

Although nobody shot any pictures of me in the harness, I took some pictures of one of the go-go dancers, who took the harness for a test before I was strapped in. This shot is one of my favourites:

A go-go dancer in a harness held above the dance floor at the Toronto club 'Money'. Taken May 2000.

(The photo also appears in my Flickr set.)

One reply on “From the Archives: The Harness at "Money", May 2000”

[…] From 1999 to 2005, I lived on Sullivan Street, a five-minute walk from Accordion City’s Entertainment District — a.k.a. Clubland. Although my friends and I preferred to do our clubbing at the alt-rock clubs farther west on Queen Street (Velvet Underground, Zoo Bar/Zen Lounge/Funhaus, Bovine Sex Club, Savage Garden and the first place I’d ever played accordion in front of a large crowd, Sanctuary Vampire Sex Bar), I’d sometime catch up with friends at the various hot spots in Clubland. I busked in Clubland now and again, which landed me some very interesting accordion gigs at club such as This is London and hanging with my accordion from the ceiling at Money. […]

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