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Hottawa :: [hot-uh-wuh]

Hottawa :: [hot-uh-wuh]

  1. a big town situated in the capital of Canada somewhere in a valley between the Ottawa river and St. Lawrence Lowlands and nested on the traditional, unceded territories of the Algonquin nation [noun]

  2. a form of slang used to describe the nation’s capital overall freshness [adjective]

  3. an underground group of taste makers reminding the participants of the Outaouais region that they are not forgotten [noun]

There is a group of individuals in this city whose part-time occupation is to keep us creatives thriving, partying and mingling together. The collective’s name is Hottawa and they are so underground, that strangers on the streets invite them to their own parties. The crew, which began with Max Halparin (Halpo), has grown into a mixture of common folk who make uncommon moves :: Hector, a VJ; Josh (Sportif) and Mikayla (Seiiizmikk), who decided to come on their own accord; Sara, a DJ by the name Mani Pedi; and Jordan David who is popularly known as JFUN, but to me he will always be Dr. David.

Photo by Nicolai Gregory

The name came from a discussion Halpo was having in 2015 with his friend Guy Halpern (DJ That Guy), about this city having so much to offer, but lacking the platters to serve it properly.

So, he got to work and began putting the right people into the right place, starting with DJ sets after concerts organized by Showbox at the fabled Mugshots, and then a community grew. Early collaborators Sarah (Sarita) and Olivia (ohjay) regularly drop hot ish under the moniker, FEELS.


Exclusive PACE-tailored Hottawa mix: curated, arranged and woven by Halpo

Today, they write Hottawa onto dusty garage doors, fingers all messy and ask one another, “where the dirt bags at?” They walk past diners on Bank street and contemplate why breakfast has gone from $9.00 to $14.00 before the $15.00 minimum wage kicks in. One of the members ambitions in community radio - another volunteers time at and donates parts to a local bike co-op. Some of them mix in their rental rooms where KRK speakers are propped up atop law textbooks and turntables be cornered in small nooks - to get there, you pass last week’s empties and offer to help clean. Someone mutters “nah” and down the hallway we go.

Photo by Nicolai Gregory

We met up for a shoot on a cloudy, muggy evening and of course,

it rained so we hid under other people’s balconies

until babies’ mommas shoo’ed us away,

most likely mistaking us for local

hopped heads.

Photo by Nicolai Gregory

There’s always winners and losers, and Ottawa’s about to relapse off weighted movements or washed out attempts of entertainment sickery. Hottawans believe that if it doesn’t exist, create it. They are passionate about this city and care for its inhabitants. They are valuable activists, outspoken contributors to society and stand in line wherever you stand in line. So it goes.

For example, at their last event, they received feedback that some of their female attendees felt unsafe, so the next day, they reached out to Hollaback! Ottawa - a group of volunteers acting as a mobile safe space - to intervene if anyone is assaulted or made to feel uncomfortable at their next event.

Photo by Nicolai Gregory

That is action and democracy // we begin to see that dialogue and conversation is possible in all aspects of society - even nightlife - and in encouraging it, we remove the taboos associated with particular types of outings.

When we view ‘going out dancing’ as an estranged activity in which assault is a normal thing, something is wrong with our societal fabric. Act. Hottawa gets that.

Photo by Lukasz Lukaszek


Hottawa is doing something special on Friday, July 14th at Babylon, and we’ll be there helping out. While the crew is known for fusing parties with classics and fresh cuts, sometimes pouncing from soulful funk to techno and acid house, followed by a Trick Daddy track, they have some other ideas up their sleeves for this week.

  • PACE will be curating the visual screen behind the DJ decks, which will be mashed and presented by VJ Paradisse all night,

  • A special entrance combo: $15.00 for PACE’s third issue + ticket to the event,

  • $5.00 all night entrance for PACE contributors,

  • Hollaback!

  • to make sure everyone enjoys a respectful dance floor experience, Hollaback! Ottawa will be acting as mobile safe spaces to intervene if any creeps make you feel uncomfortable.

Nicolai Gregory’s photo collection:

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