Ten signs of the death of the Entertainment District

Ten signs of the death of the Entertainment District

The canary in clubland: Circa closed earlier this year (Image: Divya Thakur)

The condo invasion is old news to all of Toronto. Except clubland. The point of packing dozens of nightclubs into one area was to contain the noise and stumbling Paris Hilton wannabes, hence the lack of pricey real estate in the Entertainment District. But, as the Toronto Star reports, only about 30 clubs are open for business today in the area between Richmond and Wellington around John Street, down from almost 90 five years ago. With city proposals to build more condos and other developments, the end of clubland as we know it is near. Here, 10 reasons why the fist-pumping hub is on its last legs.

1. The end of 117 Peter Street
A new proposal would turn 117 Peter Street—the headquarters for clubs Embassy, Traffik and Home as well as post-Jägerbomb destination Pizzaville—into a real estate value-friendly hotel and condo complex. So far, only a “Development Proposal” has been placed on an entrance.

2. The revitalization plan
Last summer, the city and the Entertainment District BIA announced an amitious revitalization project to create more parks and boutiques, widen the sidewalks and turn John Street into an artist-designed promenade (bring in the festivals). At the time, councillor Adam Vaughan said the neighbourhood would become “everything the city needs a street, a neighbourhood, a district to do.” We assume this means fewer watering holes for newly legals and more stuff for people with money.

3. Circa is gone
The clubland canary, a nightclub, art gallery and amusement park hybrid, closed in the spring after an 11-month wait to get a liquor license, squabbling among the staff and $2.1 million in accumulated debt. The closest thing to a landmark clubland has had for the ought generation didn’t even last three years.

4. The booming ‘burbs
Not to stereotype, but 905ers looking for the ultimate Friday night have made up a sizable portion of the clubbing crowd. But more clubs have been popping up in the GTA’s outer limits with a winning formula of deafening bass minus the commute downtown.

5. The new Ritz-Carlton
Luxurious hotels always want to be where the action is, but we’re guessing the average evening’s debauchery just blocks away from where the Ritz-Carlton will be opening up this year at Wellington and Simcoe isn’t really what the developers have in mind. Cue skyrocketing rents to squeeze them all out.

6. The 2nd @ Montana’s closed
It was an intriguing concept: a lounge atop roadhouse-fare restaurant Montana’s to lure clubbers after their rib-eye. Neither survived.

7. Pop can’t decide on a name
First it was Liquid, then Fluid (imaginative!), and barely a few years into its latter moniker it became Pop. Pretty soon the club is going to get the hint that changing the name won’t suddenly make you profitable.

8. Moon Rooftop closed
After only a year, Toronto’s rooftop club experiment bit the dust, showing that when it comes to clubland, it’s best if patrons are neither seen nor heard.

9. Runway 244 (a.k.a. Seven Lounge) closed
Maybe it was the unisex bathrooms that turned people off, but this classic two-storey club could easily have filled the void of go-to weekend spot for the Circa crowd. (Unfortunately, both went bust within months of each other.)

10. The rise of King West
Much of the graduating class of the Entertainment District has moved a few blocks south to see and be seen. With scores of luxe lounges and the recently opened Thompson Hotel, King has become the new epicenter of classy nightlife, which relegates clubland to being the place for sketchy drink fests.