Our survey of 2012’s most notoriously nocturnal people, places, and things—all lovely in their own ways. (Okay, maybe not everyone.)
The following is a giant list, spewed out in no particular order or rank. It’s a list curated entirely from the endless nocturnal misadventures I’ve had this past year. It documents those who brought life to stuffy fundraisers, those who produced really interesting things, the places that made my nights a little brighter or grimier or drunker, and the places that made me want to drink bleach. It’s an eclectic mix of 2012′s most significant personas, places, neighbourhoods, and parties, featuring scene stealers from unexpected places, like the Canadian Opera Company, or the DJ trio that throws parties under bridges. Basically, it’s a list you might want to keep handy if you want to have fun in 2013. Now, I need a drink.
The Party Gals: She Does The City
Cyber stalk: @shedoesthecity
Most likely to: Make you feel like a superstar in a Kensington karaoke bar at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday.
Dirrty worthy: Aside from a long-overdue (and pleasantly surprising) new layout for their digital headquarters, these girls know how to get down with style and class. With their #StayGolden series hitting joints like the Gladstone and partnerships with Annex Wreck Room (hello, a Clueless jam!) and Azari & III for an electro-heaven New Year’s Eve party, it’s easy to become quite enamoured and endeared by the entire team. Special love for hancho Jen McNeely, who got xoJane on us this summer and revealed her road to recovery vis-a-vis alcoholism in a Montreal diary and being a sobered-up party girl. She doesn’t feel sorry for herself, and she still doesn’t skip a beat. Yup.
In 2013: I’ll wonder why I haven’t guest fake-DJ’d a STDC party yet. My people will be calling yours.
The Social Obsession: Soho House Toronto
Cyber stalk: @SohoHouse
Most likely to: Remain a mystery to you.
Dirrty worthy: In September 2012, just in time for TIFF, the global members club that is Soho House got an official Toronto location after numerous pop-ups in the city. The secret society-esque social hive rooted in the Financial District—geared towards the “creative class” and popularized on Sex and The City—also attracted big names for its debut: Emily Blunt, Joss Whedon, Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kiera Knightley. And it ain’t cheap: members pay yearly dues (starting at $750 for those under 27) on top of their own food and beverage expenses. They’re also are under strict orders to respect each other’s privacy and not to talk or tweet about what goes on inside; there’s a media blackout, too. Post-TIFF, though, I can tell you that certain Degrassi alumni are big fans. The House has done well in L.A. and lagged in New York, but Toronto seems to be eating it up judging by the number of times I was asked, “Are you joining?” Not sure what that says about us.
In 2013: Find a friend to take you for brunch.
The Jan Brady: The East End
Cyber stalk: The comments section here.
Most likely to: Welcome you with open arms.
Dirrty worthy: The summer of 2012 saw me cross the Don to explore the east end. And I had a decent time. Unfortunately, as a staunch/native west-ender (whatever that means to you), many readers took it as a total diss because I honestly described what it felt like to bike around at night in search of a buzz: quiet and boring. But there are so many highlights: Wrongbar-owned Riverside Public House has the best fried chicken and hopes to start a dance night, and a new monthly live music night called East Side Boom (pictured above) has since been burning a hole in the floor. Plus, gay haven WAYLA and concert series Feast in the East are both alive and kicking. SO THERE.
In 2013: The east end shall remain a place where 73 per cent of people simply don’t party. (Probably for the best?)
Photo: Courtesy of Irina Luca
The Party Boi Antidote: Myles Sexton
Cyber stalk: @MylesSexton
Most likely to: Make you want to be yourself.
Dirrty worthy: The summer of 2012 saw the minting of Toronto’s newest YouTube web-series star with Sexton’s reality show, I Walk For Myles In These Shoes. He’s a gay, gender-bending, high heel–wearing, party-hosting breath of fresh air, with frank and honest opinions of what it’s like to “be different” (read: dress different) than what most people accept of men (even what gay men accept of each other). More importantly, he’s not Gregory Gorgeous. The divergences are stark, especially if you read fellow Grid-er Courtney Shea’s recent interview with Gorgeous and then mine with Sexton, you’ll notice that, despite their similarities, the latter has his head—and his make-up brush—rooted deeply in reality.
In 2013: Getting your attention.
Photo: Courtesy of Tommy Nguyen
Best in Show: ROM’s Friday Night Live
Cyber stalk: @ROMToronto
Most likely to: Make you dance with dinosaurs
Dirrty worthy: Last spring, the Royal Ontario Museum introduced Friday Night Live, a series of weekly curated nights blending history, art, music, food, and booze. The team wanted to boost its street cred and lure fresh, young patrons ripe for the picking—and, well, it caught on fast. Sure, it’s not a highly original endeavour (see: PS1 at MoMA), but with solid programming, food from bite-sized masters like Fidel Gastro’s and palpable Twitter buzz with #FNLROM, it gave a lot of the bar-weary somewhere to go and something to see. By its second season in the fall, it had already spawned a Thursday night copy-cat edition from the AGO and tickets began to sell out—in advance.
In 2013: A third season is in the works. (And I’m available to consult.)
The Lothario Impresario: Brock McLaughlin
Cyber stalk: @brockmclaughlin
Most likely to: Seduce you for sport.
Dirrty worthy: In my head, I like to refer to Brock as “Cock.” (That’s a good thing, and I’m allowed, okay?) He’s a man of many talents; paramount among them is his ability to talk himself into any party and end up (tastefully) hammered for free, like that ET Canada bash during TIFF. Trust. He does, however, do a lot in his hyphenated career: band manager for Nixon and other artists you probably haven’t heard of (yet), event planner, and ladies man. He’s also taking advantage of the men-as-bloggers void, and is starting a new weekly hip-hop night at Johnny Jackson’s on College Street starting in January. Plus, I’ve met his mother at a restaurant opening, so I know the kid isn’t all that bad.
In 2013: Rule the world or become a father. It’s a coin toss, really.
The Better Half: Anna Wiesen
Cyber stalk: @AnnaWiesen
Most likely to: Drop a beat, do a shot, then give you a piece of bubblegum.
Dirrty worthy: They say that behind every good man, there’s an even better woman. Ms. Wiesen helps her beau, Bobby Kimberley (pictured with her above), and his Young Lions Music Club put on some of the most consistently fun parties of the year, from an unofficial TIFF shindig in an alleyway that recreated The Shining to boat cruises with Andy Rourke of The Smiths. She also makes up the other half of their DJ duo, The Summer Fling DJs. When she’s not busy with these extracurriculars, she’s responsible for community and business engagement at the Movember fund, educating guys on how to save their junk. Plus, she’s so fucking pretty and musically brilliant, I could throw acid on myself.
In 2013: Meet her.
The Diamond Dive: Wide Open Bar
Cyber stalk: @WideOpenBar
Most likely to: Give your bank account a break.
Dirrty worthy: It’s ridiculous how many people don’t know about the crown jewel of Hogtown. Wide Open is not your hotel bar, nor is it your $50,000 hole-in-the-wall. It’s not the Horseshoe or the Silver Dollar Room. This ’90s relic is, however, a grimy and chill mess. With a Queen and Richmond address, it’s almost out of place, but perfectly central for all points of the city. Lest we forget the glorious drink specials, one for every day of the week: 2 for 1 Mondays; $2.50 everything happy hour until 8 p.m. on Thursday; $2.50 rail until midnight on Saturday; $3 rail and domestic bottles all Sunday. And the bathrooms—especially Dirrty Worthy—tell the stories of a thousand nights out in this city.
In 2013: Don’t go here and ruin it. (Okay, go—but tip well?)
Photo: Courtesy of Ryan Emberley
The Everywhere Girl: Jen Kirsch
Cyber stalk: @JenKirsch
Most likely to: Invite you to the Soho House
Dirrty worthy: After spending months politely chatting and running into Jen Kirsch everywhere—even so randomly at one of my best pal’s house parties up on St. Clair West—I still didn’t know the face to the name. Even when Shinan Govani put her on that National Post Worthy 30 list, I was still like, “Who dat?” and didn’t care. Then I figured it out. Three months later—when she kept bringing me wine as I holed up under the stairs at the TIFF Bond gala eating cake with cleaning ladies because I put my back out—I started respecting her. The self-promoting relationship-expert-turned-blogger is a pro at working “the scene” in ways I never cared for, but I like her. She’s everywhere and, after Govani did yet another feature on her, it prompted many to choose whether to drink her Kool-Aid or flush it down the drain. From big, brassy nightclub openings to charity dinners, the girl just wants to prove she’s got a heart of gold and the potential to be the life of the party.
In 2013: She’ll fight to be a mainstay, or face a sashay away.
The Shit-Disturbing Party Fixture: Sabrina Maddeaux
Cyber stalk: @sabrinamaddeaux
Most likely to: Tell it like it is with a gin-and-tonic glued to one hand.
Dirrty worthy: Maddeaux, a relatively young doyenne, is a mystery, especially after having scored the managing editor position at Toronto Standard earlier this year. Still, the former style editor pops up at top-tier parties and fundraisers to report on them with one firm belief: don’t blow smoke up any publicist’s ass. She caused many-a-pursed lip when she bitchslapped Rogers for closing Sweetspot.ca during the Toronto Fashion Incubator Gala that the media conglomerate funds, which may or may not have prompted black-list backlash. Then she writes about vajazzling her vagina and having a picture of her boobs circulate around her university. And then she attends the ceremony for Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. And actually buys Canadian fashion with money that her parents don’t give her. That’s how you do it.
In 2013: Skinny-dipping/pool-hopping in Rosedale.
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