My Summer Lair Chapter #236: When Was The Last Time You Visited Play De Record?
On December 31, 2016 a Toronto institution Honest Ed’s permanently closed. For many Torontonians it was a difficult death. One of the reasons for Ed’s demise was fans treated the institution like a museum not as a store.
You can’t adore Honest Ed’s but shop at Wal-Mart or online via Amazon Prime. You hafta buy something; literally invest in it for it to survive.
Just months before Honest Ed’s closed up shop another Toronto institution relocated from its noble home: Play De Record left Yonge St. for a new location on Spadina.
In the 1990s, the Yonge Street strip between Gould and Elm was Record Store Central: Play De Record, Sam the Record Man with those iconic neon records, A&A, Sunrise Records and so much more.
A record shop Play De Record was located at 357A Yonge St. right at Yonge-Dundas our Canadian Times Square.
Founded by a Trinidadian immigrant Eugene Tam (dude in the video thumbnail below) who all through the 90s made sure Play De Record was stocked with hidden gems as well as the latest and most notably the freshest in hip hop, drum and bass, house, techno, funk, Latin, electronic, jazz, soul and other underground dance genres.
Play De Record was a vinyl church and the congregation gathered weekly typically on Thursdays to receive the sonic sacraments.
There’s a powerful moment in director Rob Freeman’s Drop the Needle documentary where he asked Eugene are you aware you created an institution?
Eugene seemed surprised; yet for the creative individuals featured in the documentary: Jason Palma, Russell Peters, Maestro Fresh Wes, Mastermind, Kardinal Offishall, Skratch Bastid and lots of DJs they’re not surprised.
Their love for Play De Record is present tense: it was a community and a connection which is what the best DJs effectively create when they play. The dance floor is all about community and connection.
If you have experienced Play De Record you should see Rob Freeman’s documentary: Drop The Needle. More than nostalgia, this is hope.
Music is one of the most potent glues in our society; it’s a bonding agent…and the individuals who bring it to us…DJs with their distinct taste and passionate vinyl store owners like Eugene Tam should be recognized and celebrated for their good works.
Here’s my conversation with director Rob Freeman about his Play De Record documentary: Drop The Needle.
Host Sammy Younan
Recorded: Friday October 14, 2022 at 12:20 pm
Stress free pop culture tastefully harvested for your divine delight. Once a week a carefully curated edition of My Pal Sammy goes directly to your inbox. Sign up for my newsletter so we can have some fun…like dropping the freshest beats!