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Nightlife Crackdown Looms

2007_08_21clubland.jpg
If there is one thing Toronto is world-class in and world-renowned for, it is dance music. Toronto sees some of the world’s most famous international music acts play its bars and clubs every weekend, and according to a recent article in Toronto Life, they bring with them at least $125 million in economic activity. Well, music enthusiasts, bartenders, club district employees, club owners, event promoters, and young people beware: a nightlife crackdown is coming to Toronto and the fight to save your scene (or your livelihood) will not be easy.
Last month’s issue of Toronto Life had a front-page piece detailing the decadent horrors of our sinful Entertainment District—a place so foul, even Satan himself would not party there. We kid, we kid, but leave it to Toronto the Good to be so moralizing and puritanical that it would literally rip the heart out of its thriving nightlife tourism industry. And for what? More recently, Councillor Adam Vaughan lost a bid to deny former New York club king Peter Gatien’s anticipated new club, Circa, a liquor license that has unfairly taken a year to acquire. The decision to grant the license is having an initial stay request heard today, since the AGCO has second-guessed itself and contradicted one of its own decisions for the first time ever. The origin of the renewed pressure is mysteriously unknown.
A number of new rules on the table would see a tax imposed on club owners for long outdoor lineups, a long-term moratorium on new clubs, a limit on how many clubs can be in any one area of the city, and eventually, the shutdown of some existing music venues.
It is very likely that if all the new rules are implemented, certain kinds of music will be targeted specifically, hundreds of employees will lose their jobs, stagnant weekly events will take over (making throwing one-off special events and all-ages nights virtually impossible), relocated clubs will brush up against their new neighbourhoods (in other wards), drunk driving will increase as clubs open in less-central areas, and Toronto will begin to lose its status as a fun place. This plan is going to be a disaster.
Adam Vaughan (whose website doesn’t even list the Entertainment District as a neighbourhood in his ward) seems to think Clubland suffers a problem of density. To us, however, it seems he has a problem with its very existence, saying of the area’s venues, “hopefully they just disappear.” There are a number of solutions that ought to be tried before the disastrous “nuclear option.”

  • Enact the sidewalk tax. This is our compromise. There can often be a dangerous number of people on the sidewalk, and this rule should cut down on the number of “you lookin’ at me?” altercations.
  • Graduated last call. The City of Toronto now has the authority to permanently grant establishments 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. last calls. Did you know that? 2 a.m. should be the “penalty last call” for businesses that Vaughan calls “bad operators”. This will significantly decrease the flash flood that happens when everybody is let out at once.
  • Public washrooms. Enough said.
  • Calming LED lights. Certain patterns of subtle lighting can produce a calming effect which has been shown to decrease violence in European club districts.
  • Create soundproofing standards for new condos. This will reduce noise complaints of all kinds, allowing residents and music to live together in harmony. It will also decrease energy costs.
  • Anti-violence community outreach. Believe it or not, Toronto’s nightlife is made up of communities, not just people. Having a group like TRIP! perform anti-violence outreach could help create change from within.

If Adam Vaughan and council are not willing to work hard on the problems of the Entertainment District, it is clear they are not actually interested in solving the area’s troubles, but rather in destroying one of the greatest things about this city: world class music.
Photo by smuncky on Flickr.

Comments

  • guest

    wtf is this guy retarded? why would u do this to toronto?

  • paigesix

    how about, DO NOT put in a homeless shelter at Peter and Richmond. (in former location of Fez Batik)
    That is possibly the DUMBEST idea the city has developed: putting high risk people in the most drunken, over-populated, under-controlled area of the city.
    You know, unless their long term plan is to have the GTA clubbers and the homeless head off against each other every night eventually eliminating both parties..

  • guest

    I support the sidewalk tax. I have a big problem with the policy of keeping party-goers on the sidewalk to make the club look busier. The only good reason for people to be standing outside, is to wait to be searched by security, buy a ticket, or because the club has already reached capacity.
    Soundproofing standards are a great idea, and will come in handy as Toronto continues to increase its density.
    ~ Cameron Segger

  • guest

    The homeless shelter, the club jihad, and Vaughan’s dislike of condo development highlights how our supposedly progressive and urban council is really just a bunch of leftist reactionaries. Screwing motorists and the 905 is great, but to actually DO things that promote the health of the city, they’re just puppets for NIMBYs (like the far left Annex Residents Association trying to increase the value of their multimillion dollar houses… Margaret Atwood first among them).
    Spacing has seen a similar degeneration, with no one promoting the interests of the city as an economic center, an actual urban environment, or part of the wider world. It’s all just leftist hatred and attempt to freeze the current state of the city, or even roll it back to an imagined heyday (typically the 60s or 70s).
    Public washrooms are an excellent idea. Actually all of the suggestions are superb, except for the sidewalk tax. We should not be creating an incentive for hurried door procedures, risking the safety of patrons and making it that much easier for an evil city councillor to inevitably find underage patrons (ID checks will become more rushed, then vaughan will swoop in, shut down the bars.. it’s totalitarian from all angles).
    Besides staggered closings and public washrooms, the city should double or triple the number of police in the club district. A force wide expansion of that order would allow for more beat policing and help secure neighbourhoods and reduce crime. Solving violence by destroying part of our economy is something so stupid it could only come from an NDP councillor.

  • Kevin Bracken

    Good points #4 about the sidewalk tax, the safety of this procedure should definitely be investigated, even though I don’t think safety even factors into this idea in the minds of the anti-club regime.
    I just want to point out for the sake of accuracy that Vaughan is not affiliated with the NDP, and even congratulates himself for “dismantling the Ward 20 NDP machine.”

  • guest

    I’m sorry but the City is really stupid when it comes to the Entertainment District… actually, it’s really stupid when it comes to anything entertainment related.
    This is why Miller’s administration is failing and why the city is on the verge of Bankruptcy. They just don’t understand what’s happening.
    I will admit, that there might have to be concessions made, in making much needed changes, but cracking down on a sector that brings in much needed tax money – that’s just plain stupid. If anything, the lack of forward thinking in this whole plan is going to kick the city in the butt. Not to mention, the decrease in liquor sales will probably hurt the province as well, as liquor is purchased via the LCBO more often than not.
    The sidewalk tax itself is BS and should not be allowed to go through. If it does, it may very well give club owners incentive to make money off Line-bypassing. If not that, then it’s going to lead to a lot of greased palms… those palms belonging to Bouncers, and that sort of behaviour doesn’t help anyone.
    In regards to destroying an economy… You only need remember back 7 years ago, when Team Stupidity (aka Lastman/Fantino) decided to crack down on raves. The reprocussions of that decision lead to a large decrease in venue rentals as well as the death of many good stores and clothing companies that catered to that community.

  • guest

    Being involved in the promotion of ‘one-off special events and all-ages nights,’ I can say without a doubt that the number of venues available to us has already declined dramatically over the past couple of years; if this assault on nightlife continues then events of this sort will be forced into venues of questionable safety and legality, a result that nobody wants to see. Toronto will never be the world-class city it so desperately wants to be unless it can find a way to balance the needs of all parties involved. Sweeping the problem under the rug solves nothing, and will only hurt the city in the long run.

  • Ben S

    This is a pretty bad idea as they go, and I don’t even like clubbing. These new rules will have the effect of shutting down clubs and preventing new ones from opening up in the Entertainment District. Market forces will encourage clubs to move to new areas, and if you think the squabbling over clubs’ noise pollution and traffic is bad now, wait until a bunch of new venues open up in neighbourhoods that aren’t used to them. (The Beaches, anyone?)
    As much as I admire his intelligence, Vaughan seems to be labouring under the delusion in this case that his whole ward should be a delightful, quaint Jacobsian community. That’s simply impossible, and clubs are an inevitable part of a vibrant city core. I’ll admit that club owners can be a boorish bunch at times, but it appears that Vaughan is trying to destroy them instead of working with them. The problems of the Entertainment District are nothing that can’t be solved with a little cooperation.

  • guest

    Just when free parties are starting to get sketchier and more dangerous due to more and more thugs attending there are threats of even LESS venues for safe parties with actual security?
    Any city that fights it’s party scene is shooting it’s self in the foot. No good is going to come of this. NONE!!!

  • guest

    I’m not the biggest fan of the “Club District” but you totally won me over. Great piece! And your suggestions are well thought out and practical (particularly the staggered last call)–although I would echo guest 4 and say that more police presence could help a lot. Thanks for changing my mind!

  • guest

    Maybe these idiots should allow clubs in other areas instead of packing them all in one district.

  • guest

    While all of the ideas presented in the article are good dones, there remains one over-riding fact – there are too many clubs in too small an area. It creates a safety hazard and a policing nightmare. I’m not in favour of shutting down the clubs, by any stretch, but I would like to see a slight reduction in the number and a cap on the total number.
    The line tax is a great idea. Club owners are using public space to promote their own business and the multitue of lines makes it very treacherous, especially for any person with a disability, talk walk around the district. Clogged sidewalks because owners are promoting their businesses are not beneficial to anyone involved.
    Finally, while the graduated last-call is a good idea, it is simply unworkable until we have much better late-night TTC service. As it is, TTC servie does not extend late enough.

  • guest

    Wow, you really don’t know much about city policy. “Subltle LED lighting to calm people”? this is about violence and cops and traffic and congestion and drug traffiking, not mood lighting.
    This “crackdown” is about bringing a smidgen of order to a part of town that cannot handle the amount of people that come in on weekends.
    Your suggestions are fine, but to characterize it as an assault on night life, like this is a Prohibition-style crackdown, you’re being as reactionary as right wing nutbars. You have to see the flipside to all of this: It is by far the most rude, obnoxious, and disgusting part of town on a weekend. Puke everywhere, guys in muscle shirts picking fights with other muscle guys to impress the ladies, people littering…. And people live in this area, and many of them were there before the clubs.
    The “crackdown” means spreading out some of the bars to other parts of town.
    You can blame Adam Vaughan all you want, but this is the handiwork of Olivia Chow — she didn’t pay attention to her ward for 4 years and in that time way too many bar lisenses were approved.
    Life is meant to be fun, no doubt, but there has to be a balance, and the scales have been tipped way too far to the brutish side of the things. a

  • Greg Smith

    The current club district’s central location leads to reduced drunk driving? I’m sure that this logic holds. A substantial segment of the people who throng to the district do not come from the city centre — think York, Durham, Peel, etc. — and, as a result, get to and from the core by car. Encouraging future nightlife development in the outer reaches of Toronto could reduce the quantity (and aggregate distance) of drunk and/or exhausted and/or drug-addled driving. Later public transit, plus the extension of suburban transit routes directly to the club district (or well-planned connections between systems via the GTTA) might help.
    Graduated last calls are interesting, but if 2am is a ‘penalty’ last call then the entire system will rely on the continued existence of rule-breaking clubs. If everyone behaved, everyone would be open until 4am, no?
    It also seems strange that the problem of noise-polluting clubs should be solved by forcing neighbouring condos to add sound insulation rather than the clubs themselves.

  • paigesix

    Have you been on College between Bathurst and Shaw lately on a weekend? The expansion is already happening….
    Kids driving the wrong way down one-way residential streets after pocketing $30 parking tickets cos it’s cheaper than taxiing in from Mississauga. Girls passed out in alleyways. People peeing/pucking on houses, cars, sidewalks…
    I avoid the Entertainment District like the plague, but I assume it’s much worse than this.
    Oh but all in the name of making a profit for local business and the city, right?
    Why ARE we defending a form of entertainment that goes hand in hand with such a revolting ‘culture’?

  • Greg Smith

    Paigesix: why? Because hedonistic youth practically hemmorage cash when you mix ‘em up with the appropriate music, drugs – legal or otherwise – and the prospect (however slim) of a hookup.
    And because to question the legitimacy of such entertainment, apparently, is to be a lame old square who ‘just doesn’t get it’.

  • Kevin Bracken

    > The current club district’s central location leads to reduced drunk driving?
    Interesting comments so far, I thought I ought to elaborate on this one, though.
    Anyone who’s ever actually partied in the District knows that the “905 suburbanite” stereotype simply isn’t true. Many people who party downtown buy condos downtown so they can be near the clubs, and there are entire towers that are considered “clubber buildings” along Wellington, Front and Queen’s Quay, further adding to the city’s tax base. Many people walk home after a night out.
    Furthermore, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the King and Queen streetcar’s sudden spike in ridership after last call is because duh, people take transit home from their night out.

  • Greg Smith

    Kevin: is there any data on the 905/416 split? Both you and I are using vague relativistic terms to bolster our arguments (me: “substantial”, you: “many”).
    Simmilarly, a spike in transit ridership after last call does not in itself support the conclusion that most (or even many… merely some) clubbers take the TTC. All you can conclude from that is that the clubbers who DO take the TTC tend leave clubs after last call — which, as you, doesn’t take a genius to figure out.

  • Kevin Bracken

    Well the plural of “anecdote”, after all, is “data” ;)
    I was just highlighting a phenomenon I have become acquainted with, as most of the District’s detractors are not very familiar with it.
    Regardless, does it not make sense to contain an area of activity near a multitude of transit options, which until 1:30 consists of two subway stations and three streetcar lines? Downtown is the perfect place for the city’s clubs because it is accessible, and putting them in far-flung regions of the city will actively encourage people to drive there.
    What kind of places these new clubs are supposed to go is also a mystery, but if it happens to be “old industrial areas where nobody lives”, I think they already did that. It’s call the Entertainment District.

  • Greg Smith

    I think the logic is not to find a new “style” of area (i.e. not old industrial areas) but to spread out new growth so that the extremely high concentration in the current District does not get even higher. The notion of confining disruptive or distasteful activity to one place, as with Red Light Districts, is attractive until the zone is full to bursting and the revelry spills over into regular folks’ backyards.
    And that’s the key: backyards. Characterizing Vaughan as a left-wing reactionary (which is a contradiction in terms, but Torontoist has seen that boring debate in a previous comment thread) misses the point. It’s more of a NIMBY issue than an ideological one. Wouldn’t you expect *right*-wingers to object to lusty dancing, public drunkeness, hedonism, etc., more than stalwarts of the left? Nevermind that Vaughan is absolutely not a lefist himself.
    Again, our disagreement about centrality and driving can only be settled with reference to facts about what propotion of clubbers come from which areas. I agree that the stereotype of all club-goers as 905 suburbanintes is likely unfounded, but the actual 905/416 distribution is unknown to us.
    It absolutely does make sense to locate high-density nightlife areas near a multitute of transit options, but it is important to keep in mind that the flip side of “until 1:30″ is that many of those transit options are heavily contingent on the subway and hence evaporate while many people are still indoors dancing.

  • jeeff

    world class? try berlin. hell, try montreal.

  • guest

    Good article, but I was thrown off by the opening sentence:
    “If there is one thing Toronto is world-class in and world-renowned for, it is dance music.”
    What?

  • Misha

    Kevin,
    I agree with you – I’d like to see Toronto function better as a 24-hour city, and function better as a place with thriving nightlife. But I think the path to that isn’t lack of regulation, it’s smart regulation. Right now, Toronto’s regulations on things like bar concentration, noise from bars, and bars’ accountability for their impact on neighbourhoods are virtually nill.
    A 24-hour city with good nightlife should have later transit service, for sure. And staggered last calls are probably a good idea. But there also need to be regulations to help integrate nightlife better into the broader life of the city. A city needs places in a city where you can play loud music, but that doesn’t mean club owner who operate near residential buildings should have no responsibility for sound insulation. There probably also need to be regulations about bar density, as there are in many places. And regulations, in general, need to be clear and well-enforced.
    I’m really curious – what is an example of a big city with thriving nightlife that has *less* regulation than Toronto does? From what I’ve been able to learn, my impression is that most cities with long-standing established nightlife have a lot more regulation than we do. Later last-calls for sure, but also clear enforceable rules about noise and security, with real enforcement mechanisms when bars don’t comply. All of this can contribute to a real 24-hour city, where there’s real diversity of late-night activities, with well integrated bar and club life that coexists effectively with other businesses and with neighbourhoods.
    Kevin, I know you saw some terrible nightlife regulations go into effect in NYC, but that doesn’t mean that all nightlife regulation is bad. Some of them can contribute to a better nightlife, in part by helping head off the sorts of nasty political battles we’re seeing now in the Entertainment district.

  • guest

    Kevin… regardless of the pros or cons of the arguments, kudos to you for the consistent and proper use of the compound adjective (a skill very seldom mastered, and, unfortunately, lacking in opportunity in this sentence). (Alan S., AKA the former ICE man).
    [And for the rest of those in the thread... pardon the interuption, please return the stewardess to the normal upright postion, and carry on with your day]

  • Chester Pape

    The whole problem with the argument here is that it’s founded on premise that a bunch of people getting drunk in a room where recorded music is played and some small percentage of them “dance” qualifies as “culture” worth preserving.

  • Kevin Bracken

    #22: Yes, Toronto has some of the largest names in the world perform at its clubs. Just look at the lineup for Labour of Love at the Guvernment this weekend (or their previous event, Freedom) or consider that Tiesto was supposed to open Circa. I don’t care if trance isn’t your thing, but for world-class talent, Toronto is a must-play.
    Chester Pape: I invite you to actually experience the District and dance music culture: it’s clear you’ve been to the wrong places.
    Misha: I know we have discussed this before, and I have finally found you a good example. Manchester has finally willed itself to be a 24-hour city, and has made the decision to completely eliminate last call. Thus far, to everybody’s surprise, the result has been “absolutely smashing.” Most well-trafficked European town squares have a tremendous concentration of bars and pubs. The only reason we here in Toronto are among the most concentrated in North America is because most North American cities lack real, dense, healthy urban centres.

  • Misha

    Hey Kevin,
    Manchester’s a really interesting example, I think, for both of us.
    As you point out, bars in Machester can be open all night.
    They are also subject to what I think are the strictest noise regulations of any city in Britain. See, eg: http://www.communities.gov.uk/embedded_object.asp?id=1128383
    From that document, here are the noise requirements for bars and clubs in Manchester:
    - the provision of acoustic glazing
    - the provision of acoustically treated ventilation
    - the installation of an acoustic lobby at entrances and exits to premises to act as a physical barrier between the inside of premises and the outside environment
    - the installation of sound limiters linked to any sound amplification equipment at appropriate levels
    - prohibition of the external playing of amplified music
    - restriction of the hours of operation of outside drinking areas
    - establishment of maximum noise levels

    Not *one* of those requirements applies to bars in Toronto. (Compare those rules to what you see, say, in the entertainment district)
    The Manchester solution seems like a possibly good one: Give clubs a lot of rights, and a lot of responsibilities. Let them operate all night, and also require that they minimize their negative impact on the people around them.
    (I only found info on noise regulation. I don’t know if there’s correspondingly strong and clear regulation on other issues, like zoning and security, but I wouldn’t be surprised…)

  • Kevin Bracken

    I am inclined to agree with many of those provisions, actually, and I think there is a perfect example right in our backyard.
    The Drake, which has a vestibule, does not permit patrons in the café (the only outdoor area at the Drake) after a certain time, does not play music outdoors, and generally has good soundproofing. Also, the Drake has dealt well with its opportunities to serve until 4 AM such as Nuit Blanche – there is no reason to think they could not handle this responsibility and privilege year round.
    It is worth pointing out that, even though I live directly across the street from the Drake, because I have double-paned windows, the only thing I ever hear is the rumble of a streetcar going by.
    If the Beaconsfield followed the Drake’s example, perhaps we could all have a quiet night here on West Queen West, haha.
    However, in the District, there are very few residents who have been there longer than the clubs. Nobody can expect to move into a brand new, poorly-soundproofed condo in Clubland and expect quiet weekend evenings. The problems in Clubland do not have that much to do with noise, but you are right in pointing out that there are bars and clubs in other parts of the city, and if this disastrous plan goes through, we will have even more noise trouble to deal with as clubs are moved away from Richmond and Adelaide.
    It is also worth mentioning that, as sound travels wherever air travels, adequate soundproofing will decrease energy costs, allowing Toronto to achieve its goal as a green city.

  • guest

    Kevin,
    Not to nitpick, but… Well.. okay. I’ll nitpick.
    :)

      The Drake… does not permit patrons in the café (the only outdoor area at the Drake) after a certain time,
      The Drake Sky Yard (their rooftop patio) is a large outdoor area, and is open till last call.
      does not play music outdoors
      Yes they do. They have speakers outdoors on the cafe patio, and in the front entrance. They also have djs regularly in the skyyard, until closing.
      and generally has good soundproofing.
      I think you’ll find the soundproofing doesn’t measure up to the Manchester standards.

    None of which is to say the Drake is a bad place. But if you want to point Manchester as a model for a 24-hour city, you need to realize that a place like the Drake, which is a pretty good neighbour by Toronto standards, would be considered way out of line by the much tougher regulations in Manchester: Outdoor customers till late at night, outdoor music, merely adequate sound insulation…
    Okay. 24-hour city or no, I’m going to bed.
    :)

  • rek

    It seems when people say 24 hour city they mean you can go drinking and dancing, indoors, at any time. That’s not a 24 hour city by my standards, it’s just longer hours of operation in a few downtown areas for a very narrow range of businesses. What about 24 hour museums, 24 hour street food, 24 hour outdoor public spaces?
    I’m not a clubgoer, but what I’ve seen of the Entertainment District (the clubbing part) it’s dead during the day. The people who live there are at work and the businesses there are closed. Expanding clubs and bars operating hours into the early AM will do nothing for the other 12 hours in the 24 hour day.

  • andrew

    Chester,
    Club culture drives innovation in music, fashion, photography, visual art, literature, graphic design, video and film design and composition, technology, politics, social justice, and zoning. If you look at the history of recorded music, DJ’s, and club culture, you can see how sound systems in Jamaica nutured and developed music that changed the world, how clubs in New York changed how speakers were built and how straight people perceived gay culture, loved up house parties in England morphed 80′s graphic design into something both futuristic and retro [god...90's rave flyers, man, 90's rave flyers], etc. Club culture, for better or for worse, brings people together to dance in Dionysian abandonment that is older than our recorded history. I think a point that should be made is that if you try to prevent people from getting together and dancing – and what that means for sexual release – you are going to fail unless you instill the kind of totalitarian controls that suck up all of your creative energy. That’s a death culture that none of us want. Instead, smart politicians should work to create spaces where people can dance and flirt and drink and lose themselves [and the requisite "finding themselves" that is so boring to hear about for the nth time]. I agree that narrow sidewalks on Richmond and Adelaide may not contain fights or lineups or sound very well. Rather than making it harder for these clubs to exist and provide spaces for people [whether they be from nearby condo's or in from the exurbs] to dance, why not try to work to find solutions that work for homeowners, business owners, and consumers?
    It’s always struck me that Vaughan has never consulted with Pantalone, Giambrone, or Perks on this. If he had, he’d realize that club culture is like water, if you dam it, it will flow around your blocks. It’s already pushing west as what used to be affordable rents are pushed sky high, properties are bought and developed into either high end retail or residential. Liberty Village can’t fit any clubs into it’s space any more, and I can’t think of any hub of industrial spaces south of Bloor west of Bathurst that are available to conversion. Probably, displaced big mainstream nightclubs are either going to go east, or will find spaces in the exurbs.

  • guest

    See this article in today’s Toronto Star. This seems like a rather extreme measure by the AGCO to affect a decision by their own board. Something fishy is going on. Are they spending taxpayer’s dollars to do this?

  • guest

    See this article in today’s Toronto Star. This seems like a rather extreme measure by the AGCO to affect a decision by their own board. Something fishy is going on. Are they spending taxpayer’s dollars to do this?

  • guest

    Kevin @26: Chester Pape: I invite you to actually experience the District and dance music culture: it’s clear you’ve been to the wrong places.
    So are you going to bother to name any of the “right” places, or is Chester just going to have to wander around the District until he either trips over an example of culture, gets stabbed by a drunken 905er, or gets bored and takes a taxi home?

  • Chester Pape

    I didn’t say there is no such thing as club culture or that where it exists it hasn’t been influential, all I’m saying is what happens in the Entertainment District by and large doesn’t qualify.

  • Damon Kemp

    #34 if Chester can not find a suitable place to go to in the area than obviously he’s blind as a bat. There are a myriad of options. Chester obviously has an internet connection. So I would suggest he use google and find out what there is down there.

  • guest

    Chester #25:
    Maybe getting together in a small room with repetitive music and overpriced drinks does seem kind of a lame expression of “culture,” but for the most part, that’s all we’ve got.
    There are other expressions of youth culture or counterculture available, but generally speaking, getting hammered, dancing around and chasing tail is the most enjoyable expression of it. What would you replace it with? Another arts festival each weekend? Another unicultural food-eating thingy? Another Honest Ed memorial concert?
    Boring. People need a way to blow off some steam. Sometimes it leads to unpleasant incidents, but it happens. And as today’s news has shown, Toronto is the most moderate city in Canada as far as alcohol consumption (though one could argue that the District is tipping the scales against all the teetotalling 905ers).
    Personally, as a downtown Eastsider (4 lyfe, bitchez!) I’d love to see this supposed “east is the new west” thing come into play already. Move the clubs outside my condo. It’s dead at night and as we’ve already got all the homeless shelters there, it’ll feel safer with drunken clubbers. burly bouncers and patrolling cops around. Plus, it’s right on the 24-hour Queen line anyway.

  • guest

    I dislike the bias towards club culture as some sort of great creative thing above other forms of creativity. There is no particularly realm of human society that is “more creative” than another and deserving of particular protection. A solitary painter in his den is just as creative as some club DJ in jamaica.
    a handful of young men sitting in a cafe somewhere discussing politics is just as creative as a bunch of people dancing in a club drinking alcohol.

  • guest

    …and some nerds sitting around playing GTA 3 and guzzling Mountain Dew in their grandma’s basement is also just as creative as any of the above.

  • elliot

    It seems that the people commenting here are debating details of this issue. I think that Vaughan ignoring a lot of these small details and simply wants clubs to be gone.
    getting rid of the club district isn’t a real solution to the problems. the city and public need to find an answer instead of simply destroying the question.

  • guest

    Damon #36: Ah, that old bullshit song and dance. Normally we hear it when people argue about how the record companies should die and all they listen to is independent music, but they don’t bother to name any bands. Today it’s all about how there’s more to clubland than stupid pukey drunks, but nobody can come up with any examples.
    Chester argues that there’s nothing more to clubland than lame music, binge drinking, and the occasional “dancer”. That’s a pretty sweeping claim, and it’s one that’s pathetically easy to demolish. All you need to do is name one single solitary venue that’s not like that. If coming up with just one place in the District that doesn’t fit Chester’s narrow-minded vision is such an insurmountably high burden of proof that you go straight to ad hominem, well, hey, I’m sure Adam Vaughan won’t complain about having to somehow manage to find a way to win the public debate against that level of rhetoric.
    If your position is not just true, but easily proven true, go ahead and prove it. You’ll convince a lot more people that way.

  • guest

    You want a club with no music, no booze and no dancing? How about the library? That’s something everyone can enjoy!

  • Stacey Kityana

    what bothers and confuses me is the entertainment district’s (and most clubs, for that matter) obsession with alcohol. it seems like so much of club culture is based on it, which is largely why i avoid most clubs despite liking dancing and dance music… it doesn’t seem like alcohol is just used to enhance people’s experience of the music/dancing/social atmosphere, it seems like these things are used to enhance people’s experience of being drunk… which seems silly to me. i certainly don’t think stricter liquor laws would be a good idea, but i do think that more late night options that are alcohol free would do wonders for the entertainment district and the city in general.
    guest #42, that’s a good idea. an all-night bookmobile would be amazing! it could park in a different neighborhood every night. an all night vegan food cart would be spectacular too… and more all night coffee shops. an all-night sewing and crafts studio where folks can go to stitch and bitch, all night ice cream parlours… hide and go seek and football matches! lecture series! all night storytelling!!!
    would there be enough demand to get this stuff going? probably not. does anybody besides me really want to go out and hang out with people who like to read about crustaceans and munch tempeh shawarma at 3 am? maybe? i can only hope :)

  • Damon Kemp

    41 I take it you’ve never heard of a site called toronto.com. On there site it shows ideal itinerary’s for just about anything a person can look for. I’m not here to tell someone where to go if they don’t know what they are looking for. Hell I use to DJ at a club in Columbia, South Carolina. It was afterhours and no alcohol was ever served and the floor was always full.
    BTW you want independent music bands try “The Modern Skirts”. Need some more let me know what you are looking for.
    Elliot, I think you are correct. Ultimately Vaughan seeks to have the clubs out of the Entertainment district. Little does he realize though that

  • WannaBinToranna

    Perhaps if people didn’t act like animals when they go out, there wouldn’t be a need to “crackdown” on anything. If the clubbers honestly look at this, they will see that they only have their own to blame (some of their own, not all). I mean, how long do you think any community will put up with the noise and drunks wandering around either puking,trashing property or picking fights?
    Sorry to those who actually go for the music and dancing…those few bad apples (drunk,cocky suburban muscle-heads just looking to get laid) ruined it for the rest of you.

  • guest

    Damon, “he must be blind as a bat” and “I take it you’ve never heard of toronto.com” aren’t actually convincing arguments. They’re cheap shots that really make it look like you looked at Chester’s witty little remark and admitted to yourself that he’s actually pretty much nailed exactly what’s going on, but maybe if you make fun of him enough nobody else will notice.
    It is pathetically easy to demolish that claim. All you have to do is take that next hour you were going to spend writing clever new putdowns, and instead of spending 3600 seconds figuring out what rhymes with “dorkus”, spend 3595 seconds on rhymes and use the remaining five to type the name of one interesting Entertainment District venue that completely blows that idiotic stereotype out of the water.
    Again: if it does come down to a fight to get the District shut down completely, then the question will be “What the hell good is it, anyway, and why don’t we just replace it all with middlebrow art galleries?” Your answer had better be more than “you can google, dumbass”, unless you really love Thomas Kinkade. Adam Vaughan won’t do your homework for you. Start doing your own now, and beat the Christmas rush.

  • dowlingm

    Adam Vaughan is not NDP – he beat the de facto NDP candidate, Helen Kennedy.

  • guest

    Not everyone will share my opinion, but the model for the clearly-needed problems of clubland is Lula Lounge. They co-exist with a residential neighbourhood, with very little or no antagonism; they’ve been instrumental in forming a BIA that has done substantial work to improve the area, and put it on the radar with councillors. particularly Giambrone, who has interacted with them a fair bit; they’ve run a program that includes major music stars and substantial support for local musicians; their program has an impeccable claim to being a real cultural one – in contrast with what they do on a regular basis, the claims of culture for clubland are pretty laughable; it’s embraced by the local cops, and isn’t a massive and ever expanding drain on policing resources; and most important, they provide an excellent tail-chasing and guy-snagging environment that provides massive hookup opportunities.
    However, the latin dance culture does assume that you’ll take the time to learn to dance at least basic steps, or at least be prepared to learn, which is a problem for most clubbers. You see the same thing in NYC, Paris, London and Amsterdam: latin clubs, of whatever size, seem to be better able to co-exist with neighbourhoods than regular clubs, which seem to also expand into ghastly dance-barns to be viable.
    But clubbers should think about what that means: the social part of salsa, and latin dance culture means that there are expectations of respect and consideration that go along with the luxury of being able to go up to a woman and ask for a dance, with a minimum of attitude on both sides. And that, compared with the model of getting increasingly hammered and building everything up to whether or not you make the hookup, both makes it a more socially dynamic environment, as well as one that has far fewer problems with male aggression that are the stock in trade in the club district.
    Of course, restrictive regulations the city brings in to correct the problems stemming from their own moronic failure to manage the entertainment district’s development will affect the viability of such places, helping to destroy the model that is needed.

  • Kevin Bracken

    If you are looking for an example of clubs that ought to remain open, one needs to look no further than the closed Republik. They have a great crowd and great music but fell victim to an overzealous police campaign to have them shut down.
    Examples of good places to go in the area are Footwork, Metro, Se7en (if you like hip hop), Opium Lounge, Inside, Flirt Lounge, 338… these are not the places that breed violence.
    When Circa finally opens, it will be the crown jewel of the Entertainment District. A club on two nights a week, the rest of the week it is an arts complex: with a green room, a recording studio, rotating art installations, a toy and clothing store and much more, Circa will show everybody what an entertainment complex can be.
    I am certainly inclined to agree with the “bad apple” theory as opposed to Vaughan’s “everyone is a 20 year-old hooligan, all 60 000 of them.” Did you know he is using false data about the capacity of the District, sometimes tacking an additional 10 to 30 000 on to his numbers?

  • Damon Kemp

    @46 The first comment can be taken as a cheap shot. The second was informing the guy that, according, to a website there are clubs out there that people can go to where getting piss drunk and acting the fool aren’t the top priorities. If Chester had heard of the site he probably would not have made such a gross generalization. All I was doing was confirming Kevin’s assertion that Chester needs to get out and experience the district.

  • guest

    > Republik… have a great crowd and great music but fell
    > victim to an overzealous police campaign to have
    > them shut down.
    Um… From what I understand, one regulation in Tornto is that you’re running a club, you should not be selling cocaine there. That’s what the cops allege was going on- not just that they were tolereating drug use, but that the club was being run by a coke dealer. These are just charges at this point. But again- is there a city anywhere that makes it a policy to *allow* nightclubs where the management sell coke? How is this overzealous? (And the club, as I understand, is just shut for a couple of weeks…)
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20070731.CLUB31/TPStory/TPNational/Ontario/
    > When Circa finally opens, it will be the crown
    > jewel of the Entertainment District.
    I think that remains to be seen. There’s a lot to be excited about at Circa, for sure. But sometimes these things don’t play out as expected.
    It’s worth remembering that the owner is a convicted felon (tax evasion) who ran clubs that many say were massive drug operations, w. strong mob ties, whose club manager murdered and dismembered one of his in-house drug dealers. His club in NYC was closed down for crime-and-drug related issues, and the reason he’s doing business here is because he was deported.
    None of which is to say Circa won’t be great. But are you going to believe everything Peter Gatien says? It’ll be realy interesting to see what happens here.

  • Kevin Bracken

    That isn’t what I heard about Republik, I guess it does remain to be decided in court. Rumors have a way of flying around the District. Oh well, there was good music until they closed :) They are “relaunching in September”. Thanks for the article! Although from what it sounds like in the Globe, it was basically entrapment.
    As for Circa, you don’t have to believe anybody besides the ROM and the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, both of whom have written letters of support.

  • guest

    That isn’t what I heard about Republik… Rumors have a way of flying around the District.
    That rumour is substantiated by a link to the Globe and Mail, included in the post.

  • guest

    It’s worth remembering that the owner is a convicted felon (tax evasion) who ran clubs that many say were massive drug operations, w. strong mob ties, whose club manager murdered and dismembered one of his in-house drug dealers. His club in NYC was closed down for crime-and-drug related issues, and the reason he’s doing business here is because he was deported.

    You must be an expert on Peter Gatien.
    US laws are different. Gatien pleaded guilty to not paying NY state sales tax on cash payments to security guards and entertainers over a 5 year period. This was at a point in time when he was so drained of money from fighting the US feds that he really had no other choice but to plead guilty. I’m sure other club owners have paid talent in cash and not deducted the sales tax before. It’s not right, but it’s not a federal crime in Canada. Another good reason to live here. When they finally deported him it was through the INS system and new laws introduced after 9/11. That’s scary stuff.
    The rest of your facts are unrelated to Gatien or based on hearsay, but it’s good to see you read the papers.
    There seems to be a group of people in Toronto who are so fixated on tearing the guy down that they’re missing the big picture: If everything they’re saying is true, CiRCA looks like it’s going to raise the bar in Toronto. That’s gotta be good, right? Plus it’s raising a lot of awareness around the state of the nightlife scene. Hopefully for the better.
    If we can’t support efforts like this to attempt to bring something big and electrifying to Toronto, we don’t deserve to call ourselves a world class city.

  • guest

    ha i can’t believe this. vaughn is a real wanker. oh well, i don’t care if they tear the city apart. hell i don’t care if they turn it into a ex-hippie socialist utopia where the only people that can have fun are the grey beards in the annex and the homeless kids running around on crystal meth. it’s broke in more ways than one, and i’m glad i’m out.

  • guest

    If any one is still following this thread: Peter Gatien will be talking to Leslie Roberts on his CFRB 1010 Radio Show on Monday, August 27th about the recent court ruling against the AGCO as well as Adam Vaughan’s attempts to block his project. Adam Vaughan may be participating too.
    Following the interview they will open up the phones for comment. If you feel passionatly about these issues, please call in during the show to share them.
    CFRB Call-in line: 416-323-7418.
    Monday, August 27th at 11 am.

    This is your chance to defend Toronto’s nightlife.

  • guest

    If any one is still following this thread: Peter Gatien will be talking to Leslie Roberts on his CFRB 1010 Radio Show on Monday, August 27th about the recent court ruling against the AGCO as well as Adam Vaughan’s attempts to block his project. Adam Vaughan may be participating too.
    Following the interview they will open up the phones for comment. If you feel passionatly about these issues, please call in during the show to share them.
    CFRB Call-in line: 416-323-7418.
    Monday, August 27th at 11 am.

    This is your chance to defend Toronto’s nightlife.

  • guest

    If any one is still following this thread: Peter Gatien will be talking to Leslie Roberts on his CFRB 1010 Radio Show on Monday, August 27th about the recent court ruling against the AGCO as well as Adam Vaughan’s attempts to block his project. Adam Vaughan may be participating too.
    Following the interview they will open up the phones for comment. If you feel passionatly about these issues, please call in during the show to share them.
    CFRB Call-in line: 416-323-7418.
    Monday, August 27th at 11 am.

    This is your chance to defend Toronto’s nightlife.

  • guest

    Among the wonderful things I love about Toronto is the club life. Much more entertaining, music and attendee-wise, then club life in Washington DC.
    Don’t let the government destroy your scene!