Some people like to march to the beat of their own drum. Others like to enjoy the bass of a world class DJ rather than their own private ITunes collection. On those days when you want to go big, Toronto has the dance clubs that are sure to please. It may have felt like the end of an era with the closing of The Guvernment nightclub, which at one time was named one of the top nightclubs in the world by DJMag. We may be hustling in another era of smaller and friendlier nightclubs, but there has to be a place where people can go to get their dance moves on.
Way into the wee hours of the morning, we have your cocktail flowing, hip shaking locations all over the city. It is just a cab ride away to enter a different world. It will be hard to imagine that this is the same city where you took your morning Starbucks run. These dance clubs prove there are a lot of different ways to stay awake. Whether you stumble home at 2am or 7am, you only have to wait a short while before you get to relive your experiences over brunch.
Some of our locations expect you to dress your best (such as Ace Nightclub), while others are more concerned that you drink your best (we’re looking at you, F-Stop). Ask your Magic 8 ball what the outlook will be for your evening, pick a number and call your most fun friend. It is time to party.
There are clubs that get so tightly packed that your dance moves start consisting of fist pumping and swaying motions. Maison Mercer has 12,000 square feet, which is room for up to 1,300 people. Likely you will have some space to bust out your best moves, especially if you go early. Multi levels make it possible to find the right song to scream “I love this song!” to no one in particular. There are 34 bottle service tables and it is best to reserve one early to avoid disappointment. The crowing jewel of Maison Mercer is the rooftop terrace, which manages to be swanky and romantic. (416-341-8777)
Helmet Head is not exactly a look we associate with being sexy. However, it doesn’t matter because Kensington is more about attitude than appearance. And Handlebar has plenty of personality. As Toronto becomes more cramped, dance clubs become more narrow and this place is no exception. Beer, whisky and mixed drinks can be had for under $10, though, which might help to expand your personal boundaries. Expect an eclectic mix of music, from soul and motown to top 40. The dance floor is small enough for people to dance without feeling obligated. You can always spend your time engaged in the noble pursuit of beer drinking. (647-748-7433)
El Convento Rico
This is Toronto’s longest running Latino drag bar (you know that you are officially a big city when you have more than one Latino drag bar). It is a basement club located in Toronto’s Little Italy neighbourhood. Be prepared to see some gorgeous queens shake it to the Latin beat. This club is welcoming to a wide range of ethnicities and persuasions (or pretty much every ethnicity and persuasion). Expect Top 40 mixed with Salsa and a little bit of Bachata for good measure. Revel in the false eyelashes, grab a martini and shake what your mamma gave you. It’s the right thing to do. (416-588-7800)
When a place is only open Saturday night and makes a killing in Toronto, you know it has to be pretty opulent. Muzik attracts the likes of Katy Perry and Drake, and although we cannot guarantee that you will get anywhere near their entourage, we can guarantee that dancing at Muzik will make you feel like a million bucks. World class DJs and over-the- top extras made it feel like you have traveled to Las Vegas. You may catch some fire dancing or a mermaid floating in the pool (they DO exist!). Although it is not as easily accessible by public transportation, it is worth the trek, especially in the summer, for a Canadian spin on California Girls. (416-595-9998)
Dance clubs have been evolving in the 2000s and The Piston is a prime example of that. On the trendy Ossington strip, The Piston straddles the line between bar and nightclub and does it well. The back of the bar is set up for 100 people to dance their faces off, with live music and DJs every single night of the week until 2am. It may be smaller than a lot of other places we would put under the dance club umbrella. However, it has a snazziness to it that we couldn’t ignore. With lush curtains offset with leather booths, this is the kind of place you come to dance with the friends who want to kick back and don’t require VIP bottle service. (416-532-3989)
Ace Nightclub is the kind of place you wouldn’t even consider going in jeans. The most antique thing about it is its decor, with chandeliers, tufted silver fabric and worn mirrors. Located in Toronto’s stylish King West district, Ace is ready to cater to those with high credit card limits. Bottle service starts in the hundreds but goes to – ahem – thousands. Top 40 and hip hop are the backdrop beats for the young and well dressed crowd. There is a short window in life where spending your hard earned cash on booze sounds like a good idea. Ace Nightclub is ready to serve that window and serve it well. (416-504-1444)
Although imagining dancing in a place called Cube might conjure up claustrophobic images, Cube is indeed the opposite. Impressively spacious, L shaped yellow vinyl couches snake around the club offering the opportunity to rest tired feet in a charmingly retro fashion. Most people choose to stand with cocktails as accessories, swaying to the top 40 and house music. Built in the reformed Ultra club, Cube attracts the over 25 crowd. Cube claims that it was built “with evening mischief in mind.” Some clubs seem to be dark to hide their dinginess, but Cube could get away with being more brightly lit, were it not for the whole beer goggles thing. (416-263-0330)
F-Stop is a nightclub that has the feel of an underground warehouse with 3,300 square feet. It is perfect for twentysomethings and people who consider 90s music to be “old school.” Try to resist the undeniable impulse to put your hands in the air with House of Pain, “jumping around” in style. People may start coyly dancing on the floor, but after no time at all anywhere you can plant your feet is fair game. Soon you will feel like you have a lot more friends than you probably really do. There is a champagne bar on the patio if you like to drink your paycheque in the form of bubbles. (647-824-4993)
Fly Nightclub is the place to party, especially for the LGBTQ community. It doesn’t start to fill up until 12 or 1 due to the fact that it is open until 5am some nights. Filled with beautiful low body fat percentage men, it is a great place to go to dance some of your own body fat off (use their website as inspiration). This spacious club offers three floors and 10,000 square feet of heart pumping music. Some nights have drag queen shows and others celebrate particular DJs. Fly tends to attract a great mix of people, gay or straight. This is a great place to be to cap off your Pride Week celebrations. (416-925-6222, 416-410-5426)
Toronto restaurateur and nightlife kingpin Charles Khabouth has been at the forefront of both the city’s dining and dancing scenes for years. So when he opened Uniun in the downtown Entertainment District in 2013, Toronto’s party-loving set knew it was going to be a hit. The 16,000 square foot space opened in the 1920s as a factory, but has since housed its share of popular nightclubs come and go. Uniun aims to have staying power with comfortable leather banquettes and thousands of LED lights lining the walls, a state-of-the-art sound system and, of course, plenty of space for dancing. Up to 1,500 patrons at a time can enjoy Uniun’s vibe and grab a drink at one of six bars. ((416) 603-9300)
About Courtney Sunday
Courtney Sunday has lived in England, Switzerland, Canada and the US, finding her way into the professions of freelance writing and yoga teaching in between travel opportunities. She learned the true meaning of the statement: “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Courtney now divides her time between Philadelphia and Toronto. She loves the cafe culture of both cities and the ever-expanding group of foodies. When not leading small yoga teacher trainings around the globe she explores her cities by foot: www.courtneysunday.com.
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