Villain: Peter Gatien
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Villain: Peter Gatien

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains of 2007––the people, places, and things that we’ve either fallen head over heels in love with or developed uncontrollable rage towards over the past twelve months. Get your dose, starting Boxing Day and running into the new year, three times a day––sunrise, noon, and sunset.
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When New York club king (read: mafioso) Peter Gatien got banned from his city, he decided to come to ours to rebuild his empire. Because apparently what downtown Toronto really, really needed was a hottt new destination for SUVs full of trashy, faux-trendy suburbanites with pockets full of their parents’ money to burn. That, and a home for robots.
Yes, robots. ‘Cause see, according to Gatien, CiRCA isn’t just another one of those Clubland clubs. It’s artsy! And avant-garde! And, like, crazy diverse! There are nine-oh-fivers and nu-ravers! They totally share cocaine in the ballroom booths!
In a word: ugh.
Housed at the intersection of all that is unfortunate about our city—Richmond and John Streets—this day-glo nightmare of a scene is revolting on so many levels (pun intended). There are the bouncers, all hopped up on ‘roids and ego, barking at inebriated clubgoers and innocent passersby alike to GET OFF THE SIDEWALK (a sidewalk that, last we checked, was still property of the city and its citizens, not a nightclub and its NYC-reject “impresario”). There are the tacky, gratuitous displays of what we’ll call fetish art, for lack of a worse term. There’s the labyrinthian layout and the inexplicable lack of cell phone service, combining to give you the eerie feeling that you’re on the set of a straight-to-DVD horror flick. (Have you really lost your friends? Or are they just all waiting for you in a secret torture room at the top of the next staircase? The fluorescent chamber of death awaits!) Oh, and then there’s a migraine-inducing sound system from which there is no escape. Seriously. At most dance-y places, when the beats are beating you down, you can flee to the bathroom to rest your aching heels and pulse points. At CiRCA, THERE ARE DJS IN THE BATHROOM. The whole place revels in being too much, too loud, too big, too too.
And all that would be totally fine… anywhere but here. Toronto is a place for arts, culture, multi-culture, a city of patchworked neighborhoods jostling for a place in the modern pantheon of important cities. CiRCA, meanwhile, is better suited to the Vegas strip than any remotely sophisticated New World cosmopolis. Wait, no. We hear Vegas is classing it up these days. Atlantic City? Yeah, sounds about right. Pack up the circus and move ‘er to Jersey, dude.
Peter Gatien dummy from Skelecore.

CORRECTION: JANUARY 3, 2008
This article originally claimed that Gatien was banned from New York “for drug trafficking”––that is untrue; while Gatien was arrested in 1998 on federal drug-conspiracy charges, he was acquitted. It was his guilty plea in 1999 for state sales-tax evasion that eventually led to his being ordered out of the country. New York Magazine has an excellent article about Gatien that provides a lot of interesting breadth to that aspect (among many others) of his story. Torontoist sincerely apologizes for the error.

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