I was in Toronto speaking at The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association’s global conference about all things lesbian travel. The schedule was pretty tight, but I completely fell in love with Toronto and decided to spend some extra time checking out the gorgeous city with my friends Button and Bly. If you know Button and Bly – they’re usually the ones bringing you the best party content for queer kids across the globe but in a random turn of events, we switched rolls in Toronto. They covered the tourism options in their video [watch it below] and Lindsay and I focused in on the best bars and parties around town. Turns out there are a bunch of rad lesbian bars and lesbian events around Toronto that slip below the radar.
Want some more information about Toronto? Check out our review of Delta Hotel.
Follow, Girl Play, Scissor Party and Queer West’s page for events – some are club nights but there are a bunch of other rad queer things to do in Toronto listed as well like a queer erotic poetry night and a make your own body care products workshop. Without further ado – I give you the best of lesbian nightlife in Toronto.
Best Lesbian Bars and Lesbian Parties in Toronto
Back To Church
When: The second Friday of the month
Where: Church on Church, 504 Church St
What: Back to Church has had Toronto’s hottest lesbian DJs grace the decks of this intimate, one-room club. Event organizer Anushki Bodhinayake was quick to get into the space when it transformed from George’s Play to Church On Church. One of the major complaints from women is that there are too few places in the queer village that cater to them. This spot can’t be more central or inviting. With a relaxed atmosphere and intimate dancefloor, this spot now has a large stage where you can jump up and show yourself off.
When: The third Saturday of every month
Where: The Round, 152 Augusta Ave, Kensington Market
What: If you haven’t heard of Cherry Bomb, then you’re probably not from Toronto. The city’s longest-running lesbian monthly first breathed life into Toronto’s fledgling queer west scene in 2007 by bringing women, trans and nonbinary folks (and their gay friends) out to Andy Pool Hall on College Street. When Andy Pool Hall closed, event creators DJ Denise Benson and DJ Cozmic Cat moved the event to The Round (home of Business Women’s Special, another mixed queer party attracting more men than women). They attract upward of 400 people monthly who are treated to electro, throwback classics, house, disco, drum & bass, hip-hop, R&B, reggae, rock, and pop. Special events like Pride and New Year’s bring out guest performers like Fawn Big Canoe. If you arrive early you can even warm up by playing group games like Twister.
When: Dates vary
Where: Venues vary, but always Pride and New Year’s
What: Now in its eighth year, Girl Play was started by Anna Maria and business partner Tania Morano when there was a huge need for more lesbian events. Slacks had closed and women were restless. Their first event was a Toronto Pride weekend festival of five parties. Since then, they have gone on to produce rowdy gatherings at various (usually but not always straight) locations. “We’re bringing new things to people and keeping it fresh and hot,” Morano says. “Each new venue is an interesting experience but you don’t want to bring your party to a venue that’s like a bro fest.” The last event was held at Smith on Church Street with DJ Femmebot spinning disco, jackin’ style house music on the second floor and DJ Foxxtrot putting out top 40, hip-hop and hits on the third floor.
When: Last Saturday of every month
Where: Many different locations including out east at Wayla.
What: With their last regular location closed, Toastr is now moving the party around to a different venue each month. “It gives us the opportunity to showcase other venues in the city that a lot of people wouldn’t normally go to,” says Tania Morano, who also heads up this event. Now in its fourth year, Toastr gets crispy with house, tech, dancehall, hip-hop, twerk and funk music spun by DJ Sticky Cuts. Events like New Year’s or Pride are extra special. Past DJs like Deko-ze, Ticky Ty and Neil Macleod (who each have their own followings) help to create a changing sound and a diverse crowd. Guest musicians like master violinist Sammy V, who entertained at their Boxing Day party at the Gladstone, was a treat. “What is interesting about the time when we started Toastr was that it was around the time that everyone was starting to move parties to other places, off Church Street,” Morano says. “A lot of it was a venue issue. There was nowhere to throw parties anymore. We still have that problem.”
Yes Yes Y’all
When: Second last Friday of every month
Where: Nest, 423 College St
What: Though not officially a lesbian party, this queer hip-hop monthly bash has moved venues a few times in its six years, but the crowd always follows. With its strong female DJ/promoter presence this diverse crowd includes a healthy mix of men and women both gay and straight but they’re united through music. Playing everything from hip-hop, dancehall, R&B, soca, trap, and reggae. But take a good look around, queer women dominate. Expect guest and up and coming performers to be showcased at every event. DJ Yung Bambi and special performers Keita Juma, Progress and Cake Da Killa have all performed here recently.
LGBT Friendly Bars in Toronto
More Toronto Lesbian Travel Tips
Gay Girl’s Guide to Toronto – Autostraddle
Guide to Toronto for Gay Women – AfterEllen