My Reflections of Toronto: The Club District in the 2000’s

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Back in my younger days in Toronto, pretty much every weekend that I was free was spent down in the club district. Whether it was on Adelaide, Richmond, Peter, Duncan or Pearl there would always be some excuse to head downtown to party and jam. It could be for someone you know like a friend or family member, or friend of a friend celebrating a birthday or graduation or some other milestone, or some guy/girl you met once at Markham Station while getting some late night eats. And didn’t everyone have a friend or family member that was a club/event promoter?

For me, my downtown clubbing heyday probably was around 2004-2010 so I can only speak on what I recall. The old glory days, which are but a distant and sometimes drunken memory. When I was wandering around downtown a few weeks back I wondered what happened to these spots if they are still around or demolished because for anyone who walks around downtown Toronto these days all you see are condos for the most part. Keep in mind I am not saying these were the best clubs in Toronto but these were places that I recall frequenting in my younger days.

Inside

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I remember when Inside was the place to be not only because it was popping but, former Raptor, Vince Carter was an owner of it! There was like 3 floors and each floor had a different vibe to it. One floor was a glass room where I think the dancefloor was glass and there were glass windows, booths and such that usually was the club anthems floor. The next level up had a wooden floor and we would usually hear Reggaeton and dance music on this floor. One time, we saw Daddy Yankee who was in town promoting a new project performing so that was pretty cool for our 5 dollar guest list cover charge.

However, for me and the crew back in like 2005 it was all about the basement! Or as we called it, the SOCA FLOOR! When we came here on Fridays you would hear Soca Sweetness and/or Dr. Jay De Soca Prince and back in those days it was RARE to hear reggae and soca music inside of a downtown club. So it was important to come and support the cause because if we didn’t show up it would no longer exist and many of us didn’t want to take it for granted. Countless, birthdays were celebrated here I think I celebrated my birthday here two times. The vibes were just toooooo nice week in and week out. It was almost like a weekly reunion with people.

It is now a resto called Ja Bistro. RIP Inside!

 

Seven

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And right next door to Inside was Seven and Runway 224. I only went here a few times. It had an upscale urban music kinda vibe. I could be wrong because again I only been here a few times. One time I celebrated my birthday here and there was a snowstorm so the place was virtually empty. On the top floor, where we stayed at it felt more like a private party since it was literally only the people who came for my birthday that were in the room. It was kinda awesome just like 12 of us liming and wilding out. Oddly enough, one person I met there for the 1st time has become a good friend of mine since then. I respect Seven for that.

Now it is called La Vie Complex one of the few places from back in my day that is still a club!

 

G-Spot

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So this place has been through quite a few name changes over the years but, I remember it as G-Spot. Usually, after a shooting would occur at a club the management would change the name to refresh the place and give it facelift. If I’m mistaken I remember it once being called Metro and its last incarnation was Gravity not sure if it has a tenant anymore. If you wanted ratchet well G-Spot was the place for you!

I think we took my cousin here after he turned 19 and it was probably a mistake but, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Can’t front though the convenience was great because I could watch a movie across the street at Paramount (now known as Scotiabank Theatre) then pop over to G-Spot shortly after. Then again, shots might pop off in the club as well.

I also remember getting into an argument with a friend of mine over something which to this day I don’t understand and she was mad at me for a while. Oh the memories!

 

Lot 332

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Lot 332 used to be poppinnnnn! Once upon a time, I came here back in like 2006-2007 a few times. I came here with some friends to celebrate a birthday and this was like back when SexyBack and anything Justin Timberlake was all the rage! And now, it’s a City of Toronto building.

It had cushy couches and upscale lounge décor. It really had the loft kinda vibe down cold. The crowd would be a mix of bag of people from new clubbers to older ones. The most vivid memory I have is listening Jr. Flo just juggling beats and killing it! The problem was most of the crowd weren’t really into that stuff so they didn’t get it at first but just some of the mixes and live remixes he did were awesome. One of the best things about the line up at Lot 332 was that it was directly across the street from a hot dog stand so if the line was long you could grab eats without losing your place in line.

 

Afterlife

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Personally, Afterlife was legendary to me. To the older club goers its legendary status comes from when it was called Limelight when I was younger I would hear older family members raving about it. I first set foot into Afterlife probably in 2005. Now if you love Soca and Reggae on a Saturday there was NO OTHER PLACE but Afterlife. Friday was Inside with Dr. Jay and Saturday was Afterlife, 3rd floor, the Paradise Room with Jump Up Kingz and Loudmout Chiney.

I will admit the décor and layout was very basic they didn’t appear to try hard on making Afterlife look good. Chipped paint on walls and faded dancefloor.

People had strategies as how to jump the line or claim they were on guest list. The thing was if you got there before 11:30pm you were good after that though, all bets were off because it would be jammed! It truly was a meeting place, the random girl you saw at STC a week ago was there, the dudes you were shooting pool with a month ago were there, that crew from your work would be there wilding out. The amount of times I had to MSN Messenger someone for guest list or send a message on like Black Planet or Desi Planet is countless. So many birthdays, so many reunions, so many passed out people that needed to be dragged down 3 flights of stairs and so many foolish fights over the bar, a girl or stepping on a man’s shoes.

And I cannot forget Afterlife Sundays! Why, because the whole bar was $2 a drink. Beer, mixed drinks, shots it was all a TOONIE!!! Most people could get lit on a $20. When I worked in retail if you had Monday morning off it was expected you would be there Sunday night. They would do limos there and back so it was no excuse not to have a few. I remember one time we had a work dance battle, I refused to dance to anything 50 Cent related which is still true today and one time the song ‘Girlfight’ by Brooke Valentine was playing and literally a girl fight started over wanting to be on top of the riser dancing.

Eventually, Afterlife lost its lustre and faded into obscurity but the good times were definitely lasting memories and now it is Rock N Horse Saloon.

 

 

Sometimes when I walk around downtown and reminisce I wonder about what happened. Toronto used to be so much fun and then suddenly we became the town from Footloose with a ban on dancing. The city opted that bringing the suburbs downtown made better sense it seems. The best cities in the world have a balance between residential living and providing nightlife and entertainment but, while Toronto is technically the 4th largest city in North America we still seem to have this small town sort of mentality. Sometimes that’s a good thing other times it’s a not so good thing of course it depends who you ask.

I am sure I will post more in the future because there is lots of history and stories that we all have about these places. Mine aren’t that wild and crazy… Well because I have a filter and somethings just should not be posted online =)

 

Walk it out people,

Waynie

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Burger Week Toronto!

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For those of who love burgers, whether, beef, chicken, veggie, vegan last week (May 28-31) was the week for you! More than 50 dining establishments participated in this year’s festivities. There were two way to participate either check out single Burger Week places and get their signature Burger Week offering for $5 or head down to Fort York on Jun 1st and partake in indulging in sliders.

For myself, I did not bother with Burger Day I opted to go to establishments and try their offerings. In past years, when attempting to go to Burger Day everything tended to sell out real fast so while they may have improved it this year I chose to sit Burger Day out and go for it when I could.

In 2 days that I was able to check out places I hit up 7 locations. A few that I have frequented before such as Hey Meatball and Gangster Burger and checked out places I have never been to such as Toma Burger Addiction and Grapefruit Moon. All in all, it was cool, met some serious self-proclaimed ‘foodies’ and others who were just lovers of burgers and wanted to eat, experience and enjoy.

Gangster Burger!

I’ve been to Gangster Burger before so it was not brand new to me. The line was pretty long considering it was a Wednesday at 1pm I guess foodies mixed with people on lunch. I probably waited about 20-25 mins for my burger but, they were playing 90’s hip-hop and R&B so the time flew by while I was bouncing along to the lyrics reliving my younger days. Their feature burger was the Jesse James, in case you’re wondering all their burgers are named after legendary gangsters even El Chapo has a burger named for him.

The Jesse James was a beef patty with a Dijon glaze, southern coleslaw and with a bacon marmalade. While I enjoyed it the wait was a bit long but, I understand $5 burgers will draw a line up. It was a nice sized patty good flavours but the bun got mushy down the line. Regardless it was a good kick off!

Lisa Marie by Fidel Gastro

My first Fidel Gastro experience was at TIFF last September eating off their food trucks and they definitely try to flip the script with their toppings and flavours so it made perfect sense for them to offer the NUTELLA BURGER!

Yea, let that sink in for a minute, NUTELLA on a beef burger patty not to mention plaintain chips and a garlic tinged coconut sauce. Naturally I was skeptical about it when I first took a bite my tastebuds were weirded out for two reasons…1. Nutella and a juicy burger aren’t a natural fit and 2. The plaintain chips were like a Jedi mind trick to me because the texture and crispiness is similar to bacon so mind thought it was bacon at first. Yup, that was pretty weird but enjoyable. Keep in mind though, I have eaten the Krispy Kreme Burger and Cronut Burger in the past so this may have been right up my alley. So the consensus was once you get over the shock value of Nutella on your burger its pretty good but your tastebuds are in for a weird ride.


TOMA Burger Addiction

Okay so I will be the first to admit for my money this was probably the best burger I ate for Burger Week but not necessarily for the beef and toppings. It was because that brioche bun was AWESOME! It was oversized, it didn’t fall apart, was tasty on it own and a big T was branded into it!

The Wild Life burger had gourmet written all over it, arugula, swiss cheese, a truffle styled mayo and huge mushrooms not to mention the prime angus beef!

The downside, it wasn’t for takeout so you had to sit in the eatery and wait…and wait…and wait some more. Looking at their menu some of their burger prices were kind of steep for my liking but I can’t really knock it til I try it. This was hands down the best burger I had up until this point. I was lucky because soon after we got there the place began to create a crowd and since there was no takeout people had to wait for a booth.

The Greek

The Greek on King West had sliders available and after downing 3 burgers sliders were a welcome alternative. As the name suggests their menu consists of greek influenced foods such as souvlaki, greek salad and such. Their chuck was a mix of beef and lamb keftedes (meatballs). The pita bread was good but it did remind me of a rice cake for some reason. Simple ingredients and the sauce was tzaziki had a little kick to it was a good balance for me after eating Nutella, truffle mayo and arugula at other spots.

Morgans on the Danforth

This restaurant is located right by Greenwood station so on my first Saturday stop it was on my way so I figured sure why not. I seemed to have beat the dinner rush and had to eat-in. This restaurant had a nice family, laidback kinda vibe which was good. The burger is entitled ‘This Burger’s Got Seoul’

Brisket and beef chuck seasoned Kalbi style with their version of kimchi and a boatload of Monty Jack cheese. Good flavour and it wasn’t a challenge to eat. It was a random choice and I’m glad I got to try this one out!

Grapefruit Moon

In case you are wondering this has not been Photoshopped, there really is a sunnyside up egg on top of the fresh sausage patty and fries on the side all this for FIVE DOLLARS! The large tomato and greens seemed to mesh well with this burger. The sausage patty made sense going together with an egg to give you that oversized breakfast sandwich feel which worked for me.

It was a mission to eat due to its size but I am glad I got to experience it. In the process I was talking to some foodie hipsters who seemed genuine at first but began bragging about their eating exploits with each other and me. I also got a backhanded compliment asking if I got judged or looks from people because I was eating alone that day. That kind of tarnished the experience for me so I ate as quick as I could and got out of there.

Also, shoutout to the server who was in attendance that night. He was alone and they got slammed with a crowd due to the burgers about 15 minutes after I got there. While he was frazzled a bit he kept his composure and toughed it out.

Hey Meatball! (College Street)

My last stop for Burger Week was good ol Hey Meatball. They were offering was called ‘Big Trouble in Little Italy’, a pork patty with tomato gravy, pesto and spicy pickles.

The resto was busy but surprisingly it was more of their menu people were eating rather than the Burger Week special which is a testament to their following of people who come there for the food not jus a special.

It wasn’t a huge burger which for me was good after my previous two stops. Good flavours and I believe all their meat is local, natural and horomone-free so the meat had a different taste in a good way. Also, walking through Little Italy on a summer evening is never a bad thing!

Burger Week was a healthy mix of exploring the city, good and bad food choices and just the challenge of continuously eating at discount prices. One unique thing about Burger Week was their pairing with PayPal. There were about 8 locations that were basically giving you a free burger once you downloaded the PayPal app and checked-in with it. Once you check in an offer would appear for the location you’re at and the free burger is yours!

One place I wanted to check out but wasn’t able to was Holy Chuck which had this huge double patty burger but, with TTC subway closures it deterred me from venturing in that direction.

I look forward to next year’s Burger Week and hopefully it expands even more!

Walk it Out!

Waynie

Waynie Walks the TDot: TTC Streetcar Lines – Bathurst and Spadina

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The name of the blog is ‘Waynie Walks the TDot’ and finally it looks as if some ideal walking weather may have hit Toronto therefore I must take advantage!

Last year, in an effort to be healthier, I challenged myself to do some long distance walking as I am not much of a gym person. So opted to walk TTC subway lines last summer. I walked the RT line, Finch to Union and even Kipling all the way down to Kennedy! While that was a mission it felt soooo good and it was a neat way to explore and discover the city I love!

This year, my challenge is to walk streetcar line routes! This past weekend I started with the Bathurst line and followed that with the Spadina line. All in all, it was about a 9K walk and I stopped off by the Waterfront to take in the beautiful day.

In case you may wonder if I walk for monetary gain and such, I do not, I merely do it because there is more to Toronto outside of my immediate neighbourhood so why not explore it, walk about while staying healthy in the process. Learn about places and people that are new to you!

Here are some pictures from my adventures over the weekend.

So we begin off at Bathurst Station…

The iconic Toronto landmark…Honest Ed’s!

Good ol Sneaky Dee’s on Bathurst and Queen!

Random shot of a Streetcar and CN Tower near Bathurst and King

Soldiers on Bathurst and Fleet St.

The old Tip Top Factory…now lofts…where members of my family once worked back in the day!

Fort York Armoury

 

 

Let’s Go to The EX!

Check out the view at Toronto Music Garden at Harbourfront, picturesque is an understatement.

You got to love the Tall ships you can find by the Toronto Waterfront!

HTO Park is a nice way to cool down in the summer.

Now entering Chinatown!

As the summer progresses, I aim to do even more walks and see more of our fair city.

 

Walk it out people,

Waynie

Snapshots of Toronto at Night

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Just some pictures I have taken of places in Toronto in the nighttime. By no means am I a professional photographer so I apologize in advance if you are not impressed by my cell phone picture taking skills.

6 Reasons Why I Can’t Wait for Summer in Toronto!

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We have had a one of the most brutal winters in recent memory and up to this point it has not felt like spring has really arrived but, nonetheless I cannot wait for the summer! Toronto gets to flex its awesomeness when the warm months hit. While there are much more than 6 reasons, here is what I can come up with so far.

6. Patio Season!

Hanging out with friends, family or making new friends on a patio somewhere is a favourite pastime for most Torontonians. Nothing brings people together quite like a pint and some nachos.

5. Food Trucks, Food Trucks, Food Trucks!

When the summertime hits the food trucks will be out in full force offering up Toronto plenty of goodies all over the city. When its summertime you can actually sit outside and enjoy your food instead of staying indoors!

4. The Beach

All that work you have been putting in at the gym over these past few months is about to pay off. Whether you are at Woodbine Beach, Kew Beach, Bluffers Park or the Toronto Islands to name a few, it is time to take in some sunlight, maybe play some beach volleyball, take your pets for a stroll or just show off how awesome you look and feel. If you got some time maybe even dip in the water…I know that is just crazy talk.

3. Free Concerts

One thing I know about Toronto is that we love free concerts and I will assume that there will be no shortage of free shows! Last year I saw The Beach Boys at the CNE, Maxi Priest at David Pecaut Square, Ludacris at Dundas Square to name a few. With NXNE and Luminato among other offerings this summer I suspect we will be singing in the streets and/or parks.

2. Festivals and More Festivals!

From May to September just about every weekend is filled with at least a few festivals. While it can create traffic chaos, you will survive. It’s time to enjoy the streets and sights our city has to offer. There is pretty much something for everyone when it comes to festivals. Food, art, music, liquor/beer, dance, cultural over the summer months the world is literally at your doorstep! Some festivals I’m looking forward to aside from ones already mentioned are Toronto Carnival, Taste of the Danforth, Taste of Little Italy, Beaches Jazz Festival, can’t forget about Salsa on the St. Clair and Harbourfront Centre virtually every weekend hosts a different festival representing a different type of culture starting Canada Day Weekend. Trust me there is much, much more when it comes to festivals in Toronto it is all one Google search away to find info.

1. Random Walking and Exploring!

Well my blog is titled ‘Waynie Walks the TDot’ so obviously this would be my favourite thing. Last summer, I decided to walk all the TTC subway lines (yup I know that sounds crazy) in an effort to be healthy and get to know my city more and more. So I walked the Scarborough RT line one time, from Finch to Union and finally from Kipling all the way Kennedy! Sorry but the Sheppard line gets no love from me. And don’t worry I did these on different occasions and on city streets not on actual train tracks. It was really amazing getting to see different neighbourhoods up close and since I was walking I could just stop and take it in. From Uptown Yonge to Yorkville to the Waterfront to Bloor West Village to High Park to Korea Town to Greektown to Scarborough I got to see plenty of our city and I have a new found respect for it. For those wondering if I did this for a certain cause, no cause just because.

This summer I hope to tackle some streetcar lines, apparently the Long Branch streetcar line is the longest in North America at 35.5KM, that sounds like quite the challenge hopefully I am up to it. Not to mention random eating adventures, chilling out by the Waterfront, maybe take in some boat rides and checking out not so familiar neighbourhoods.

This city has so much to offer its citizens and tourists alike as much as we like to perhaps travel to different cities sometimes being a local tourist is not a bad thing plus it can be lighter on the wallet. If you are not a fan of driving and parking you can get TTC Day Passes or use the Toronto Bike Share Program (formerly Bixi) as an alternative just create a starting point to just walk around and explore.

The city is yours to discover so why not take a chance and who knows maybe you will uncover something you didn’t already know about Toronto. I can personally attest that each summer I learn about something I had no idea about. So let’s get cracking people well once the warm weather commences and at this rate who knows when that will be.

Walk it out,

Waynie

Random Food Adventures in Toronto!

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This post is pretty simple especially if you love food. Just food and pictures from places you may or may not know of!

Hot Thai Noodles – Salad King (Yonge and Edward)

Salad King is never a bad choice if you’re in a Thai mood. Thailand has even granted Salad King status as authentic Thai food by their government.

Southern Carolina Pulled Pork w/ Poutine – Greenwood Smokehouse (Pape/Danforth)

Soooo many calories and sooooo much goodness. Cheat day must!

RCK Original w/Chicken – Rose City Kitchen (Spadina/Queen)

Mediterranean style food decently priced, decently portioned and be warned they have Falafel Poutine too!

BBQ Mac and Cheese Poutine – Smokes Poutinerie (Bathurst/Queen)

BBQ Chicken, Bacon, Mac and Cheese in a poutine, what more do you need!

Sriracha Flavoured Pringles – They may be found at specialty confectionary stores

This caught my eye and I said I needed to try that out. I got to say it was a good call on my part! Flavour wise to me it tastes like BBQ mixed with chili powder and salt and vinegar. Thumbs up but its subjective since its really reliant upon for palette.

That’s about it for now

Waynie

From Toronto to Cartagena, Adventures in Colombia

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Now when you think of Colombia what comes to mind? Maybe cocaine, drug lords, violence and underdeveloped areas is what stereotypes most of us may think of. Newsflash, forget what you may have heard because when I went to Colombia it was AWESOME! This time Waynie Walks the Cartagena!

Okay so I did not get to venture throughout the whole country but, I was able to visit Cartagena back in February with some family and friends and it was quite the unforgettable experience. It was a quick 4 day trip but I wish it could have lasted a lifetime.

We were lucky enough to stay in a 5 floor villa which overlooked both the beach on one side and the city on the other side. The sunset was just mesmerizing and made me forget about the sub-zero temperatures back home in Toronto. This ladies and gents was a little slice of heaven. When the sun goes down the nightlife picks up! In Cartagena, if you are seeking restaurants, bars and clubs well it is all here for you inside the Walled City. For tourists, it is recommended you stay inside the Walled City, which is a rock fortress that in encases this part of Cartagena because it has heavy police on duty and is more secure in general.

The nightlife in Cartagena has everything from clubs specializing in Latin music and EDM to bars that really love to play David Guetta or play salsa to places where men and women alike can explore extra-curricular activities. Restaurants range from high end bistros to American style food or pizza to authentic Colombian food. Believe me when I say your taste buds will not be disappointed.

Our group was lucky enough to have a concierge service which helped book our accommodations and plan some our days while giving us strong insight about customs in Cartagena and how to not get ripped off. So we took advantage and rented a speedboat to show us the different islands and beaches along the Caribbean Sea. For most of us it was our first time on a speedboat and it was pretty cool once you get over the fact that you feel you are going to fall out of the boat pretty much every 30 seconds. The surrounding islands were beautiful while others just looked deserted nonetheless amazing and we went on a beach Playa Del Blanca which apparently you can only get there by boat.

Breathtaking views, hot sun, bright blue water along with good company you cannot beat that. Naturally, we had to try some fresh food on our journey which included fresh crab meat served in the crab’s shell and eating in the water with the table in the water and a fresh red snapper in front of us and I am talking about eyes and teeth still in it fresh! So let’s just say I opted for the veggie option.

Whether you are single, with someone or whatever the case may be, Cartagena and Colombia has something for you! Due to the stigma of the stereotypes placed upon Colombia, Cartagena tries to market itself as southern Caribbean and uses being on the coast of the Caribbean Sea as a big selling point. If you want to rent a house inside of the city or do an all-inclusive the choice is yours I would suggest using a concierge service if you are not comfortable with doing these decisions on your own.

Aside from brushing up on your Spanish do keep in mind that there is some poverty in Colombia so people on the streets will try to sell you items and services repeatedly. If you are not interested, do not strike up a conversation with them as it will encourage more attention from other people trying to sell you things. Just simply, wave your hand as to mean “no” and say “Gracias”.

If in case you might have been wondering if I was representing Toronto while in Colombia I absolutely did bring Toronto with me. I was wearing a 1 Love T.O Roots shirt with a Canadian flag which attracted conversation from other Canadians visiting and I even wore a custom shirt I designed with a Scarborough flag on it. Even when I am on vacation Toronto is with me!

This trip was a reminder that you cannot believe everything you hear about a place. Sometimes you got to go out and discover it yourself. While this was surely a once in a lifetime trip I hope to go back again and next time maybe I will come armed with some Spanish speaking skills.

Regards,

Waynie