When Dino Busato closed Sapphire Café and Lounge in June 2016 he was forced to walk away from a dream he had held for many years.
“It was a hard time,” said Busato. “After Sapphire I took the summer off to get my head back together and to get my body back together as well because it is a pretty demanding industry.”
He was down but not out and his resilience was fueled, in large part, by something he had started doing when he was 16 years old.
“Deejaying and making music generally is a great way to, not so much vent off your bad energy, but to channel your positive energy,” he said. “Music is healing. Even if it’s just getting on the dance floor, moving your body and loosening up.”
Deejaying had been a constant in his life since he was a teenager. During the late ‘90s and early 2000s Busato aka deejay Deeno and a group of friends were part of an underground music scene centred in Guelph and included many talented and award-winning musicians and artists.
“The warehouse scene we had was pretty popular,” said Busato. ”Guelph has good people who are open minded, especially musically.”
Busato was born in Guelph in 1977, the youngest child of Archangelo and Helen Busato.
Like many young people his first job was waiting tables at local restaurants and in his spare time he played music. He and his friends were fans of the popular house and techno music scene in Guelph but they were too young to play at the bars and honed their spinning skills at house parties.
When they came of age they landed gigs at local clubs but it was at the, all-night, all-ages parties they held at a warehouse on Cardigan Street where they really made their mark.
“We saw a demand for an after-hours dance music scene,” said Busato. “It definitely came off of what raves were for sure.”
The parties attracted dance fans of all ages as well as many local musicians.
“We were doing parties with the House of Velvet crew,” said Busato. “I remember a couple times we had a live trumpet player with us and people like Jeremy Shute, JP Bertuola and Sam Cino would do live percussion with us. We were musicians mixing the music together and creating something new every time.”
The warehouse parties ended in 2001 but Busato stayed busy spinning vinyl at festivals, private parties and local clubs such as Van Gogh’s Ear, Black Mustard and The Underground.
He never lost his passion for the music but at the end of 2006 he was looking for a change and accepted a job managing a seaside nightclub called Aqua in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
“When I moved to Turks and Caicos I was forced to quit so to speak but I still collected music,” he said.
He spent a year in Turks and Caicos and in 2008 he moved to Sydney, Australia where he trained as a barista.
“To me barista is like deejaying with coffee,” he said. “That’s kind of why I am attracted to it. I like doing something with my hands and seeing the finished product.”
He returned to Guelph in 2009 and reconnected with fellow musicians and deejays.
“Since coming back we have been doing Friday nights at NV for 10 years,” he said. “It’s crazy that we have actually been doing it for 10 years.”
In 2013 Busato was ready to take his skills and experience to the next logical step and opened Sapphire Café and Lounge at the corner of Wilson and Macdonell Streets. The focus was on good food, gourmet coffee and music.
He welcomed many local deejays and musicians including Shi King, DJ Pep, Edwin the Cat, DJ Koala, guitarist Nick Johnston and singer Sarah Felker but despite his best efforts he couldn’t keep the café afloat.
“It wasn’t working out,” said Busato. “It’s a tough business and as great as it was we didn’t have enough of a population to support it. That’s all. That’s my feelings about it.”
The experience took its toll on him but he hasn’t lost his entrepreneurial spirit.
He continues to deejay, work as a barista and recently started a part-time photography business.“If someone were to come forward as an investor and ask me to get back into the industry I definitely would,” he said. “Within these industries I have had so many experiences I really should write a book. It’s just finding the time to write it.”