Rêve delivers sizzling, celebratory dance party

Rising dance music star ready for bigger stages

Who: Rêve with Ralph
Where: Opera House
When: Fri., March 29
Vibe: Queer-topia dance party where everyone self-identifies as beautiful
Highlight: Non-stop celebratory, inclusive feeling that lasts all night
Rating: NNNN (out of 5)

THE OPERA HOUSE is packed with beautiful people as rising Toronto dance music star Ralph warms up the already hot crowd for Rêve, the Montreal-born, now Toronto-based pop star who’s one song away from mega-stardom.

Working only with a DJ and a keyboard player, Ralph lithely slithers and shakes producing a solid set that leaves the audience craving a full-blown Ralph show with a band and her own dancers. She should be headlining this venue herself soon enough.

There’s a full party vibe as we wait for the headliner from the largely queer crowd with more tank tops than a Florida trailer park in 30-degree weather. Muscles are flashed and flexed, and everyone has brought their best looks on what all seem determined to make a special night.

And then, pow, Rêve, her dancers and her band hit the stage as if fired from a massive confetti cannon, grabbing hold of the room in a dance party grip for the rest of the night. Rêve, of course, looks magnificent in rust red, shimmering satin or silk outfit that clings and is cut away at the sides before unleashing flowing harem pants that move like a cocktail gown.

Taking no prisoners, Rêve opens with one of her biggest songs, Tongue, a magnificent, dance-powered celebration of that sometimes-glorious body part that ignites the crowd with a fire that never abates. Her dance pack is athletic and unstoppable, like the singer herself, and the crowd is prepared to give as good as it gets.

It’s impossible not to draw comparisons with the singer and Madonna, both for her show and her relationship with her queer fans. The night feels like a joyous New Year’s Eve party, maybe 1982 at the Danceteria in NYC, and instead of Madonna, we get Rêve and all the celebratory elation of a welcoming safe space powered by big beats and a relentless commitment to dancing from both the singer and fans.

Mid-show, Rêve briefly slows things down, sitting solo at a piano to allow her dance pack time for a costume change — they’ll soon reappear in awesome white outfits featuring cut-off vests — and to remind us what a talented singer she is, her voice not just a prop to string beats together.

But she can’t stay seated long and pops back up mid-song to rejoin the dance pack to keep the crowd moving.

Madonna comparisons? Heck she even has her own Like a Prayer song: Breaking Up with Jesus is a dance track made all the more alluring by its whiff of blasphemy, which the crowd receives with whoops and more committed moves.

Comparisons to Madonna are not to suggest Rêve is derivative of the dance queen — it’s more like a passing of the torch, the next generation ready to update the form.

When Rêve announces her last song, a massive lineup starts to form at the coat check since nearly everyone at the show has checked a coat and none of the revealing outfits in the room would stand up to the cold night that awaits.

After a faux-finish Rêve’s DJ whips up the crowd into begging for an encore, which unleashes Rêve and company back on stage one more time, her dancers now going all Cirque de Soleil, tumbling and back-flipping across the stage as Rêve delivers one more dance anthem for the ecstatic crowd.

Her next show will be at a much bigger venue — a massive career just one hit song away.