Five things we learned from The Grid’s feature on the legendary Toronto party venue The Mad Hatter

Five things we learned from The Grid’s feature on the legendary Toronto party venue The Mad Hatter

Image: Crystal 

The Grid’s current cover story might be a more disturbing piece of journalism than any investigative reporting or hidden-camera exposé we’ve ever seen. The story is a history of the Toronto institution The Mad Hatter, a long-closed venue where children celebrated birthdays with food fights, used shopping carts as bumper cars and did a number of other things that probably should have resulted in a lawsuit. Below, five things we learned about The Mad Hatter (RIP).

1. Packing children into hearses is good business
The Mad Hatter founder Harry Stinson describes hearses used to shuttle kids to the party as a “great promotion” and a surprisingly efficient method of transportation. The partygoers piled into a hearse, partied their faces off and then left together. Right. But why did they have to be hearses? Creepy.

2. It sounds terrifying
One of writer Sheila Heti’s interview subjects describes the place as “sort of fairy tale–like.” Others remember it as “dank,” “just like someone’s creepy basement” or “a bunker” covered in graffiti. Perhaps this is why parents weren’t allowed inside.

3. Ice cream heals all wounds
Although nobody was ever seriously hurt (that we know of), you can guarantee injuries when you let kids throw whipped cream at each other and use shopping carts as toys. One partygoer remembers being fed as much ice cream as he wanted in the 20 or 30 minutes before parents arrived.

4. The place has a loyal fan base
Not everyone’s Hatter memories are positive—actually, a lot of them are sad and twisted. One man remembers a “weird sexual overtone”; another remembers being punished at school for repeating the nickname the staff gave her (Amy Asswipe). That said, the story has been inundated with online comments, many of which professing that their days at The Mad Hatter were the best times they ever had.

5. It really is remarkable that no one got sued
Heti spoke to people who remembered fights with “urine-stained” pillows, a staff member named Boner and “bloody knuckles and bruised feelings.” Dirty children were hosed down like prison inmates. Stinson laments that children today spend more time playing video games than roughhousing, which is probably true. Still, we think the less time bloody-knuckled kids spend around some guy who calls himself Boner the better.

Down the rabbit hole [The Grid]