‘The beginning of the new beginning’: Some of Toronto’s dance venues reopen to eager clubgoers
At exactly one minute after midnight, the wait was over for Toronto’s clubgoers and party-starters.
As the clock struck 12:01 a.m. Friday, some of the city’s most popular dance venues resumed operations after a dry spell many months long, signifying the official beginning of Ontario’s transition to Step 3 of reopening. LGBTQ+ bars and nightclubs took the lead, refusing to waste one more second.
“Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines,” said Morgan James, a drag performer and emcee at Flash on Church, just as the club’s gold doors pushed open.
Feluis Lama, 48, was at the very front of the line. He arrived an hour early to secure his spot inside, knowing capacity limits were in place.
“It’s the beginning of the new beginning,” said Lama. “It’s nice to feel like life is back to normal.”
Across the street, community staple Crews and Tangos moved its drag shows indoors Thursday, with drag artist Ophelia Manson and entertainer Vitality Black taking the main stage. In an announcement posted July 14, Crews and Tangos said dance floors will not be reopening “until further notice,” but guests can “still shimmy at (their) table.”
That didn’t deter Shawn Alexander, who like Lama, wasn’t “taking any chances.” He lined up an hour early to avoid the long queues that usually form outside the bar.
“We’re pumped, we’re excited, the adrenalin is flowing,” said Alexander, 27. “I’m excited to reconnect with the community. It’s time to get the ball rolling again.”
Over at The Well Bar, also on Church Street, drag performer Sofonda Cox danced and lip-synched to pop hits from behind a Plexiglas barrier, emerging occasionally to engage her seated audience. When the song “Toxic” came on, one man asked rhetorically, “Is it Britney?”
While a renewed feeling of freedom pulsed through the Gay Village amid falling COVID-19 case counts and rising vaccination rates, health guidelines were top of mind for the owner of Flash on Church, Darren Hansford.