After a hard week, sometimes the best thing to do is grab your crew, throw on a fly outfit, pre-drink in the parking lot, then just go hard and get weird. And in Toronto, a city that's pretty hung up on appearances, you can't just walk into any club and do that (without feeling judged, at least). So forget about the big name, money-grubbing venues you've been to on Adelaide and Richmond and take a look at our list of some of the best bars/clubs in the city that truly bring the noise, not the drama.
1. Parts and Labour
Parts and Labour lies nestled in the cultural hub that is Parkdale, and like many of the area's residents, this establishment can be described as multifaceted. Upstairs, you have a sleek, haute restaurant/bar, but once you descend into their dark, crowded basement, you end up in a whole new world. P & L always have a number of different events going on depending on the night, but each time that I've been there I can say I've consistently had a great time. The DJ is always bangin', usually playing a mix of rap, hip-hop, R&B and some reggae - but again, check their event listings and see what's up. But if you're in any way claustrophobic or have an issue with cleanliness (you will have someone else's sweat drip onto you at some point) then this may not the place for you. But if you wanna get your freak on, come on down to this dingy basement party.
Video cred - Sneaky Dees
2. Sneaky Dee's
This was my go to mid-week party back in the day. Sneaky Dee's and their "What's Poppin'" Wednesdays we're truly magical, and if you've never been, you need to experience it first hand. Mixing quality high school anthems with the downtown basement jams your parents still hate you know the words to, the peeps at Sneaks throw a Wednesday night jam that makes ‘No Work Thursday’ what it’s meant to be. Again, like at Parts and Labour, there are bodies everywhere. Things get hype, loud, and sweaty, so if you came to show off your new outfit and expensive new shoes, just know that not only will they get ruined, but no one will care. They've got cheap beer and free cover before 11. One of the highlights of this place is that you can grab some nachos downstairs after workin' up a sweat on the dance floor - they don't close their kitchen until 4 a.m.
3. Crews and Tangos
Ah, Crews. If you haven't been to Toronto's #1 drag bar, have you even lived yet? Located in the heart of the Church-Wellesley Gay Village, Crews is equipped with two dance floors, live drag performances and karaoke. After you're done admiring the fierceness of the queens preforming on the main stage downstairs, head on up to the second level and get weird on the dance floor. The music here always surprises me - it can range from groovy house beats and Top 40 mashups, then randomly bust out some reggae-dancehall vibes. You never know what you're gonna get at Crews and that's why I love it so much. Cover is usually $5 (if not free) and the dress code ranges from homeless tomboy to sophisticated gay-chic, but you're never gonna look as good as the queens here, so just come as you are and get loose.
Photo cred - Lindsays Diet
4. Revival Bar
I've been told time and time again that I need to go to Revival, and I eventually will, because all I hear is good things. Firstly, they have Hip Hop Karaoke on the third Friday of each month, which sounds like a pretty solid idea. The music selection at Revival is usually a mix of reggae, hip hop, and old school jams, but downstairs in the Stone Lounge, the DJ has been said to bump house and techno. Who doesn't like a place that can offer this kind of variety? Unlike the other venues on this list that I've already mentioned, Revival is slightly more "sophisticated" - the venue is on the nicer side on trendy College street, so if you feel like dressing up and looking good, this is probably the best option.
Photo cred- Clintons
Clintons is another great example of the bar-club hybrid that seems to be working out so well these days. In the front (or on their patio come summer time) you can grab decently priced drinks and tasty pub food, then head to the back room to turn up. Clintons is cool because they have a bunch of really awesome events every week. The standouts have got to be "GET LO", their ultimate 2000s dance party held every Thursday night with no cover. But the most unique is "Shake, Rattle and Roll" - Every Saturday dedicated to 50s and 60s rock, pop and soul. If you've ever wanted to live out a Grease/Pink Ladies fantasy out, this is the place to do it.
Formerly the much-beloved Footwork, CODA has taken up shop in the former Annex Wreckroom space right across from Bathurst subway station. You're sure to find serious bass heads and true music lovers here, because thats what CODA's main focus is - the music. They've got a hefty PK sound system that will hit you right in the feels. There's actually tons of room to dance and the staff is quite pleasant - shocking for a Toronto club, I know. They host a ton of talented homegrown and international artists, so check them out if you're itching for some quality EDM.
7. Comfort Zone
The Comfort Zone is a Toronto institution to many, and to those who have yet to visit, a myth and a legend. Along with being one of the better known after-hours clubs in the city, CZ is also renowned for its laid back vibe and stellar selection of techno and house music you'll hear blaring through the speakers. Don't come here if you're easily creeped out, though. Cause this place can be described in a few words: sketchy, but legendary.
8. Thymeless Bar and Grill
Thymeless is yet another bar I've heard so much about and I'm disappointed in myself for not visiting yet, seeing as how much I enjoy reggae music. It doesn't look like much from the outside, and I'm told the interior is no better, but that's all completely irrelevant. The DJ serves up sweet reggae vibes, with a little hint of dub step and techno. That's sure to get even the most uptight person moving. But you probably won't find any high-strung people in here anyways - from the giant rastas to the Kensington kids who frequent Thymeless, they all have one thing in common: they came to groove to the music. With a reasonable $5 cover, you can sip on your Red Stripe and chill like a true island mon.