Great relationships exist through a mutual love and hate. As does my relationship with clubbing in Toronto. Admittedly, the love I have for this city always will prevail. Despite useless TTC drivers and obnoxious weather conditions, Toronto's nightlife is one of the most diverse and immersive in the country, if not the world. Our techno culture is top-notch, the after parties are brag-worthy, and our homegrown talent is always blossoming. Here are ten things I love about clubbing in Toronto.
10. Drunk Food
Toronto is the beautiful intersection in the Venn diagram of drunk food. It is impossible not to indulge in our city's many unexpected collabs between global cuisines, taste and grease, conveniently available late night and early morning. It's the place where poutine meets Polish sausages and my waistline is the only one who complains.
Summertime in Toronto is a paradise, especially for the 2.5 million residents—myself included—who just spent the last five months slogging through Gulag-like conditions. Festival season, Toronto Islands, and Cherry Beach parties are just some of the things that remind me to breathe through the –30 windchill. We all complain about the winter, but without it we probably wouldn't know how to carpe the fucking diem like we do each and every summer.
8. Afters Hours
On the list of things that constitute as a Toronto right of passage, (next to buying a moldy plaid shirt from Blackmarket and posting an over saturated Instagram photo of Ripley's Aquarium) is a trip to Comfort Zone. Few Canadian cities can say that they cradle a bugged-out after-after-party venue that keeps its doors ajar 'til dawn. Venues like Comfort Zone and Li'ly Lounge welcome the remaining club comrades with music so eclectic that Shazam is in a corner somewhere rocking itself back and forth. Repeat after me, "There's no place like Zone..."
7. Techno Culture
Ah, yes. Techno. While DVBBS was still sucking their thumbs in Orangeville, techno had been anchoring Toronto's nightlife on the worldwide scale. The influences from Chicago and Detroit have amped the city's interest, bookings, and my weekend itinerary. If you scroll through nightclub event pages from Thursday to Sunday and there's at least two techno acts warranting advance tickets. Plus, learning how to two-step is the millennial's cha-cha-slide.
"Adventure right at your doorstep" may sound like a brainwashed Tourism Ontario slogan, but it's true about Toronto. Nightclubs are generally in the same district, if not a quick ride to the next block. I can get from my house to a club in 15 minutes, and the club to Smoke's Poutinerie in five. A blessing for music fans, a curse for wallets. (Let's share a moment of silence for those in Scarborough.)
5. "The 6"
4. Home-Grown Talent
Top to bottom, Toronto is full of great DJs and producers. While the market is incredibly competitive at the top and it's easy to be dwarfed by the shadow of some big names (we see you, Joel), from my perspective, there is an abundance of great music available at any time. From Art Department to Zeds Dead, we've got more talent here than we can handle, all repping Toronto hard at home and around the world.
3. Festival Side-Parties
Like most people, I work a 9 to 5. So sometimes I miss whatever debauchery went down on Echo Beach or Cabana Pool Bar. Thankfully, Toronto loves a round two. Anytime I lack the time or funds for the main event, I know there is always a side party somewhere preaching "special surprise guests." It doesn't take a text to that promoter your friend knows to confirm these "surprise guests" either. If I gander at that day's festival lineup and play a quick game eenie-meenie-miney-mo, I'm bound to get at least one right.
The Toronto Rave Community (TRC) is the Facebook group/dance music community/troll nation/club ticket Craigslist/mindless viral sharing platform that indisputably makes Toronto's club scene unique. The group's dance music banter is endless, but the network of local support and camaraderie it has built is unparalleled. I firmly believe there isn't a Canadian city whose nightlife that can say the same. As a longtime member of the group, I know to keep my TRC notifications on a tight leash or else drown in event posters and whining.
1. Red Speedo Guy
My first sighting of the Red Speedo Guy was at Cabana Pool bar. The grin, the strut, the lack of footwear, everything about it was so wrong yet so right. The guy is like the Loch Ness Monster of Toronto nightlife, either you hear stories about his barefoot two-stepping at Digital Dreams or you catch his tush bobbing along at VELD. It's something you have to see to believe.
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Connie has a love/hate relationship with Toronto, follow her on Twitter.