The venues and club nights that propelled Orlando's EDM culture in the '90s
Published: July 3, 2013
These places were integral to the development of Orlando's major electronic dance music culture in the '90s. Read the oral history of EDM in Orlando.
AAHZ: Unanimously cited as the mother of the movement, this seminal dance night at the Beacham Theater cultivated the late-night dance soil in the early ’80s that made the massive ’90s explosion possible. With an emphasis on the then-nascent European acid house sound, AAHZ vaulted the international DJ careers of residents Kimball Collins, Dave Cannalte and Chris Fortier. It also debuted stars like Sasha, Digweed, Cosmic Baby and Dave Seaman in Florida before closing in 1992.
The Edge: Located at 100 W. Livingston Street (currently home to H2O Church) and open from early 1992 to the summer of 1996, the Edge started life as an alternative rock club, hosting early-career shows by the likes of Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, Blur, and many others. Thanks to the efforts of DJ Icey, these rock shows were complemented by after-hours dance nights, which would often kick off around midnight and go until the very early morning. Due to its large capacity, the Edge also hosted enormous raves on holiday weekends that would often draw thousands of attendees.
Club Firestone: Located at 578 N. Orange Ave., the club now known as Firestone Live opened in 1993 and went on to carry the big prime-time torch lit by the Edge with budget and flair, further cementing Orlando’s party credentials and earning national recognition by the likes of Rolling Stone and Billboard. Occasionally hosting concerts, the club’s heart and identity has always centered on dance music and continues to bring in DJs and acts of international profile.
Beach Club: Located at 70 N. Orange Ave., this pioneering downtown club was an early and formative residency for cornerstone AAHZ DJ Kimball Collins, and would go on to become Orlando’s longest-running alternative dance club under subsequent names Barbarella and now Independent Bar.
The Abyss: As the Edge and Club Firestone hit critical mass, this gritty Orange Ave. club opened in the early ’90s and became a more underground alternative to the other flagship clubs’ size and gloss. Focusing on breaks, bass and electro, it launched the careers of resident DJs Stylus and D-Xtreme and presaged a vibe that a procession of smaller clubs would emulate.
Marz: This beachside house-music party was a notable scene force that became a traveling household name, consistently drawing crowds at different venues and even becoming a large club of its own in Cocoa Beach for a short time in the early ’90s.
Simon’s: One of the most storied underground house clubs of the early- to mid-’90s, the intimate, members-only Gainesville club was famous for its drug-happy all-nighters helmed by top-flight national and international DJs.
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