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Quick straw poll; Toronto?

Quick poll for the readership: can folks name anything about Toronto that has gotten better in the past five years? Ten years?

I'm just thinking about gentrification and the corresponding death of music and unselfconscious weirdness. Various cons relevant to my interests have either withered or flat out died. Neighbourhoods I am used to thinking of as "my" neighbourhoods to hang out in are unrecognizable.

But surely I am focusing on the negative, as is my wont? Can anyone on my flist think of some place, event, or organization that is more fun than it was in the past? Surely, there must be something out there that has gotten niftier?


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 8th, 2010 09:00 pm (UTC)
There are way more funky, cool, and friendly yarn shops than there were 5 or 10 years ago. (Lettuce Knit, Purple Purl, Knit Cafe, Naked Sheep...)

The Hacklab didn't exist 5 or 10 years ago.

There seems to be more hands-on crafty stuff happening in general. (Sew Be It, the various other sewing studios that exist now.)

There are still a lot of awesome indie shops in Toronto - Peach Berserk is still around, as are a number of other indie design shops. They're just not centralized like they were on Queen West 5 or 10 (or 15 or 20) years ago.

And yes, the club scene has changed. Music isn't dead, but the types of music that you enjoy aren't the types of music that most clubs play anymore.

(You're turning into a grumpy old man, in other words, my love.)

Edited at 2010-03-08 09:04 pm (UTC)
Mar. 8th, 2010 09:23 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure about that - I don't know of any new clubs opening up to replace the ones taht are closing, even with different music. My perception is that the raw number of clubs is simply dropping. Clubland is turning into condos, too; the decline in nightlife seems to be happening all across the city, across all genres.
Mar. 8th, 2010 09:22 pm (UTC)
I miss good raves, but seem to be seeing better cafes, more green walls, and the start of some interesting collaborative workspaces. The art scene seems more accessible than it was 5 years ago, with more cooperative drop-in spaces.
Mar. 8th, 2010 09:36 pm (UTC)
There are way more options for organic groceries, and as a result, buying them is lot more affordable. More and restaurants are using organic meat, fish and produce only.

Lots of lovely little cheese shops have opened in the past few years.

Soulpepper is a truly world class theatre company.

After a rough start, Luminato is turning out to be an good multimedia art festival.

As for clubs, Neutral has gone from being someplace I was vaguely aware of to being a happening club that is always packed. They've renovated to accomodate events like Fetish Masquerade.

Nocturne tried to be a Euro-trash bar, but the freaks wouldn't leave so they're now hosting more and more freak-friendly events.

New clubs - Wrongbar, Disgraceland. The west end has really become quite the place to be. Good thing I live there. ;)
Mar. 9th, 2010 02:18 am (UTC)
Ok, good - this is what I needed to hear. There's still night life, even if it's not night life that is convenient for me.
Mar. 9th, 2010 02:41 am (UTC)
Aw c'mon, Parkdale is only wee bit further west than Queen and Bathurst. ;) And Disgraceland is right at Bloor and Ossington.

Also, I hear Velvet is still worth going to. There's an all ages goth night called Dystopia Darkwave - I think it's the 2nd Tuesday of every month.
Mar. 8th, 2010 09:41 pm (UTC)
There's a greater variety of vegetarian food, and better vegetarian food.
Mar. 8th, 2010 10:36 pm (UTC)
I have more friends there than I did 5 years ago.

A friend there is running an RPG that I'm playing in -- and that wasn't the case 5 years ago.

Um... there may be a NEW SF convention in Toronto, and I've got hopes for that. (And, Ad Astra was already pretty sad 5 years ago.)
Mar. 9th, 2010 12:03 am (UTC)
I agree that the club scene has gotten worse, but the live music scene has gotten better. There are so many innovative, experimental bands now, and either I hadn't heard of them ten years ago and they're just getting more press now, or most didn't exist ten years ago. Not all of them are my thing per se (I recognize that Fucked Up, to take an example, are really great at what they do, but I'm not really into hardcore), but it's good to see it happening.

The core is gentrifying and culturally dying, but there are other neighbourhoods that are getting more interesting. Ten years ago, when I lived at Dupont and Landsdowne, it was Crackville, and now it's the place to be. East of me, on the stretch from Greenwood to Coxwell, is also pretty cool.

We don't have Mel fucking Lastman anymore. I have my issues with Miller but he's not Mel Fucking Lastman.

There's some support for the arts. I mean, Nuit Blanche is cheesy and corporate and the Gladstone kicked out working class tenants to be chi-chi but I'm glad to see public recognition and appreciation of local artists. Granted, mostly the shitty ones. I actually know people who make a living off their art. In Toronto.

It's more multicultural now. Again, a lot of the more interesting communities aren't forming around the core, but they are forming.
Mar. 9th, 2010 01:17 am (UTC)
Some of the things that came to my mind have already been mentioned - more interesting public arts events, more vegetarian/vegan restaurants (and alternatives at not-specifically-veg restaurants), more intersting independent cafes, etc.

I'd also add: a huge growth in farmers' markets, and more consciousness and availability of local and/or organic and/or fair-trade food in general. Also, more bike lanes and other bike-accommodations, though I suppose that's not to everyone's tastes. Also, more interesting geek enclaves like Hacklab, LinuxCaffe, and (to a certain extent, anyway) the Centre for Social Innovation.

I do agree about the decline of the club scene, though, or at least the type of clubs many of us are/were most interested in. It's kind of sad to think that Toronto doesn't really have any goth/industrial clubs any more - just occasional events at other clubs. Then again, I think that's because a lot of the people who used to go out to them weren't going clubbing much any more even before they all closed... I remember the last night I went to at Savage seeing all kinds of old familiar faces - and hearing everyone talking about how they didn't get out to clubs much any more due to work/marriage/kids/other life stuff, but just had to come out to this one, and realizing that was exactly why it was closing. And knowing that I was as much a part of that as anyone else. :-/
Mar. 9th, 2010 02:20 am (UTC)
Yeah - I'm willing to accept that the goth scene is dying because new goths aren't into anything that resembles what we old folks think of as goth. What had me panicked was the thought that when goth goes away, all that will be there to replace is is coffee shops, organic vegetable stands and yarn stores. Conscientious consumption, while a good idea, is not a replacement for night life.

Edited at 2010-03-09 02:20 am (UTC)
Mar. 9th, 2010 02:38 am (UTC)
Come out to Neutral some night. It's good fun!

Also, there *is* an honest to gawth old skool goth night every week - it's on Sunday, which is a shame, but the DJ really knows his stuff. It's called The Devil Made Me Do it.

Mar. 12th, 2010 12:09 am (UTC)
Nuit Blanche is a pretty cool even that started in the last few years in Toronto. And I totally agree about the end of Mel Lastman. I will also add that Mike Harris is out of Toronto, which is another happy-making thing!
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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