Boiler Room: a canon and community event

People dancing at BOILER ROOM featuring its logo, during Night 1 at Hall Saint-Catherine. Photo by Tabéa Benlakehal / The Concordian.

As the international club night makes its grand return to Montreal, Concordia students share what it means to them.

Boiler Room has undeniably become a staple in club culture. It is based upon the concept of placing the camera directly in front of a DJ and live streaming their set, a vision that has since taken off to international heights and found its fanbase here in Montreal. 

Founded in London in 2010, the broadcaster/promoter now hosts numerous events in several cities across the globe every year, partnering with massive festivals like Primavera Sound Barcelona and big-name artists such as Fred again.., KAYTRANADA, and James Blake.

A  new Boiler Room event in Montreal has been a long time coming. The broadcaster has held a number of events in Montreal over the last few years in tandem with popular local festivals like Osheaga, Igloofest, and Piknic Électronik. However, the city has not received a primarily Boiler Room-branded event in over a decade since Boiler Room 002 in September 2013.

The September 2013 Boiler Room was headlined by local DJ-producer KAYTRANADA, whose set would go viral online and allow his career to skyrocket even further. With over 20 million views, he has the fourth most viewed set in Boiler Room history—attaching Montreal to one of the event’s most iconic moments. This video introduced several Concordia students to Boiler Room, including communications student Vanessa Lapointe. KAYTRANADA’s set was the catalyst for an expansion of Lapointe’s musical palette: “That’s what truly got me into dance music.”

Boiler Room has become a staple due to its focus on niche underground markets, while it maintains a broad scope across many genres. Initially focusing on dance music, its brand has expanded to include everything from house and techno to grime, hip-hop, and UK garage. The Montreal edition specifically aims to shine a light on two burgeoning scenes: Afrobeats and queer club music. Between Nov. 10 and 11, Boiler Room highlighted nearly 40 Montreal DJs, as well as six club nights and event curators: Afrotonik, Hauterageous, Homegrown Harvest, Moonshine, Octov, and Unikorn. 

Tabéa Benlakehal, The Concordian’s music editor, sees it as the perfect opportunity to further discover the local scene. “I’m looking forward to checking out DJs that I’ve heard of and supporting new ones,” she said. Lapointe believes that the dance-oriented styles featured in a Boiler Room set help create its lively, collective energy. As she put it: “It’s feel-good music that makes you happy right away, whether you are alone or with friends.” 

This communal aspect is key to this generation’s connection to Boiler Room. Yasmine Abouali, a first-year student in communications, sees Boiler Room as a judge-free zone. She describes it as an opportunity for everyone to express themselves, dance, and share an experience of feeling music. She also commends the company for placing the spotlight on artists of colour and minority groups. “It’s a small act that makes a large impact; a big visual representation we need more of,” Abouali said.

Benlakehal is curious to see how the Montreal event will be formatted. She has already attended Boiler Room sets in France and Spain over the past two years, but this one is set to be the first one she attends in an indoor setting. Given the extensive lineups, she is excited to see if there will be multiple stages and rooms, or just one.

As to why students are drawn to Boiler Room, Abouali describes it best: “We all want to celebrate the same thing—amazing music produced by local or international artists.”
Boiler Room Montreal took place on Nov. 10 and 11. Catch the soon-to-be-released broadcasts via


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