The go-to bar for most everyone, this well run beast, headed up by long-time managers and community leaders Dean Orderico and Steven Clegg, is the largest "stand and pose" gay bar in the city. Shows take place most nights boasting some of the city's best drag talent like Georgie Girl and Heroine Marks. Its comfortable atmosphere, always maintained facilities and often opulent decor create the perfect environment to cheer on friends and new acquaintances as they compete in the Best Chest Contest on Thursday nights or the infamous pulse inducing Best Ass Contest on Saturday nights.
Celebrating the rugged sexiness of the older man, this party has moved and evolved from various bars around the city over its many years of existence. No dress code, no attitude. The brainchild of droolworthy DJ/host Dwayne Minard, longtime gay scene DJ, the party now usually takes place the second Saturday of every month at The Black Eagle. Having gone through a major renovation and upgrade a few years ago, the Eagle has evolved as well from a traditional leather bar into a space that welcomes eclectic weekly and monthly events and on most nights welcomes men out of leather, drag queens and even women.
For those who like to show off their goods and expose their assets, this monthly party is the standard. Gay men have long had fetishes with sexy underwear, and this event encourages all to strip down and show off their latest penis product purchases from Men's Room, Northbound Leather, The Stag Shop or Out On The Street.
Having just celebrated their first year anniversary at the end of March, DJ/organizer Neill MacLeod (who has one of the most spectacular asses this side of Church St) has established another monthly party that allows you to let out your inner spirit animal at The Back Eagle. If Deko-ze, one of the city's most sought after DJs agrees to play at your party, you know you're doing something right. But then again Deko-Ze also just loves spinning funky tribal tech house while wearing a jockstrap in front of a room full of sexy Silver Foxes, handsome Wolves, playful Otters, mischievous Pups and other rugged men.GRRR.
Toronto's longest running male strip club may not be centrally located on Yonge Street for much longer (condos will soon be built on its site) so make sure to catch the peelers in action before they make the move to the west end. Women are allowed in but only on the second floor - a treat for the dancers, as some of them are straight. The term gay for pay really pays off here. Tipping in loonies or toonies is ill advised.
The second incarnation of Toronto's largest true gay dance club is still in the same spot it has occupied for the last 19 years. Situated on three floors, most Friday nights the bottom basement operates as its own venue for Bunker, a dark and sexy after-hours adventure that allows the beats of some of the cities best DJs like Deko-Ze, Ticky Ti and Frustra to invade your body. Every Saturday night dance on the large main floor dance space bathed under the colours of Fly's hydraulic lighting system and laser light show as the city's best DJs including Mark Falco, Sumation and others are joined by international talents like DJ Batty Harris. Hi-energy thumping house beats, delicious go-go men, and 1am drag shows starring Sofonda Cox, Jada Hudson, Devine Darlin', Scarlett Bobo and others are sure to keep you up until its 4am closing
On Saturdays, this full-time queer focused theatre converts into a comfy dance club. Don't expect anything fancy like state of the art club lighting, or even decorations, but expect a crowd that likes to drink (lots), dance (kind of) and . . . surprisingly, converse. Watch for their infamous drag show, which usually takes place on its centrally located staircase and be sure to ask bar manager Patricia for her famous "Pickle Back" when ordering a pint. (It's a shot of Jack with a chaser of pickle juice.) Rough and tart, just the way Patricia likes it.
Instead of quenching your thirst for men, fill your cup with culture . . . and men. Toronto's two largest institutions not only boast world renowned collections of permanent and touring art and artifacts but they have also thrown their berets into the nightlife ring. Each hosts evening events geared to those over 19 that mixes live performances, art, alcohol and a steady stream of local DJ Talent including gay scene staples Craig Dominic and Phil Villeneuve. The AGO's aptly named First Thursday allows you to purchase a combo pack that also allows you entry into the latest exhibit. Right now it's Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrors. And on April 19th they host their annual, more exclusive, Massive Party, an event that takes over most of the gallery for an event that could be called Toronto's Met Gala. The ROM meanwhile puts on Friday Night Live, a themed party every week. Dance next to dinosaur bones or under the slanted walls of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal. Their annual Pride party, Colour ROM Proud happens on June 15, during Pride month.
Since its move to Church Street last summer, this once quiet queer bookshop, the oldest in North America, has been making lots of noise. Aside from selling books (PS-my new book, The Boy Who Brought Down A Bathhouse, is one of its top sellers), the new venture has added a café and bar. Check out Drag Brunch every Sunday. Eggs Benny, tastes so much better, henny, while watching the antics of local queens Erin Brockabic and others who often take their show outside, literally stopping traffic by performing on the street. With book racks on rolling wheels the venue converts into a full out event space hosting some of the most inclusive and diverse in the village great weekly and monthly parties, including Jelly with DJ Sammy Rawal.
Pride - (June 22-24, Pride Month June 1-24)
(Event) $ most free, certain events vary www.pridetoronto.com 416-975-8555
Once the Pride flag is officially raised at City Hall on June 1st all manner of queerness invades Toronto. Still one of the world's largest Pride celebrations, join more than one million people as they pack Yonge Street to watch the 34th Annual Pride Parade, as well as the Dyke March on Saturday and the Trans March on Friday. Pride is not a weekend, or even a week, it became an entire month three years ago that partners with some of the biggest venues and business in the city including Ripley's Aquarium, Roy Thompson Hall and Nathan Phillips Square and pairs them with smaller community based programming functions like SOY Youth Stage, Blockorama. Plus affiliated events and parties like Prism (a circuit party festival), and Fit Primpin' and Hot Nuts take place all over the city.
Destination $7.70 ferry ride
Sunshine, sand, sandals and Speedos. Or not. The choice is up to you at Toronto's only official clothing optional gay beach. Just a short ferry ride from Toronto's' Harbourfront will be bring you to one of Toronto's three popular islands. Though drinking in public is not legal, everyone packs a liquid lunch to aid in their day of relaxation and people watching. Gay owned yachts anchor nearby, so if you want to meet some new friends with a bit of money just swim over and say hi. If you're more interested in cock than currency take a stroll through the maze of bushes just behind the beach for daylight cruising experiences that will be sure to get the suntan lotion squirting. Keep in mind that sex in public is still illegal. Suck with caution.
Inside Out Film Festival - Yearly Event May 24-June 3
TIFF-Bell Lightbox, King St- $ Prices vary
Like the Toronto International Film Festival, Inside Out has, over the last 27 years made a name for itself on the worldwide queer cinema stage. Over 11 days, join more than 30,000 people as they watch over 200 films and attend a slew of gala and after-parties to celebrate and honour their filmmakers and stars. It is here that you can see bigger budget queer focused films, like last years Call Me By Your Name, before they are picked up for limited release in the larger movie houses. But it's best for catching smaller independent films that the world at large will never be privy to. That, and making out in the dark.
AS IF - (Weekly Party) $0 The Drink, 459 Church St., facebook: Mojo Toronto
Jimmy who owns O'Grady's on Church has teamed up with Steve and Francis who both co-own Pitbull events and the Men's Room to bring the village a multifunctional second floor venue that operates as a coffee house during the day and a cool bar at night. Drinks are served in real glasses, go figure. Open seven days a week there is something different that will appeal to almost everyone each night from drag queens to leather lovers. Mojo Toronto take over the space every Friday night for As If, one of the zaniest nights in the village with weekly rotating themes (check out the Frankie & Ken Party on April 6, the Superstein Party on May 11) and DJs including Cajjmere Wray and Recklezz. But it's Toronto's new gay It Boy, Frankie (aka Travis L'Henaff), acting as its sexy host that lures the thirsty boys up those steep stairs.
Crews & Tango aims to be "the number one drag bar in the city." Shows occur nightly on the main floor stage starring queens from every generation including Michelle Ross, Ivory Towers and others, while dancing takes place on the second floor from Wednesdays on, and in The Zone on Saturday and Sunday nights. The large patio out back is great in the summer, but because of Toronto's smoking laws, smokers must trek back through the bar and out to the front sidewalk to satisfy their nicotine cravings. Since the end of March their Friday and Saturday cover charge has doubled to a surprising $10. Lets hope they put some of that extra cash into repairing their bathrooms, which are the shitiest in the village.