Ah, it’s that time of year again when the rainbow flag finds ubiquity in the city and a buxom bevy of revellers take to the the streets. Yes, we’re talking about Toronto Pride 2012, and while Pride Week kick-off was the 22nd, the massive celebrations imbue Toronto with fabulosity beginning on the 29th. So, to help you navigate the influx of parties, events, attractions and the like, here’s your complete guide to Pride 2012 in Toronto.
We’ll breakdown the what-to-dos and where-to-gos from here on out, focusing on the hottest happenings and places during Pride 2012. You ready?
Friday, June 29th through Sunday, July 1st
Church Street Fair
The strip of Church Street just north of Carlton to just south of Bloor shuts down for essentially a massive block party from Friday through Sunday nights, with street vendors, makeshift marketplaces, performance stages – usually housing DJs and drag queens – food stations and the like. It’s the epicentre of Pride 2012 Toronto, with thousands upon thousands descending on the street to partake in multi-coloured splendour. Be forewarned, it gets packed, and manoeuvring through the crowd can become a tireless endeavour.
During the Pride festival each year, dozens of acts take to the performance stages peppered throughout the Church/Wellesley Village. There are seven stages this year, the main ones including the Viagara Village Stage, OLG Central Stage, Bud Light South Stage, TD Wellesley Stage. Some of this year’s star acts include Biff Naked, Corey Hart (yes, from the 80s), and Keshia Chante.
Saturday, June 30th
A politically correct name this march has not, however it is still a political – yet interestingly enjoyable – walk of solidarity amongst lesbians and their supporters during Pride Toronto every year.
Pride and Remembrance Run
This year’s Pride and Remembrance Run starts at the corner of Church and Wellesley Streets in Toronto. Now in its 17th year, the Pride and Remembrance Association holds this 5k fun run which raises money for LGBTQ charities in the Greater Toronto area. Over the past 17 years, they’ve raised more than $750,000.00 for local charities.
Sunday, July 1st
Pride 2012 Parade
The biggest attraction during Toronto Pride 2012, the annual Pride Parade, sees millions of spectators lining the streets to watch the perennial favourite celebration. The route begins at Church and Bloor and travels west to Yonge, then south to Gerrard, and back east to Church Street. We typically grab a spot near the Yonge and Wellesley LCBO because we like to ensure proper, er, hydration during the usually sweltering day.
Below you’ll find a list of some of the big parties taking place during Pride 2012, but here’s a quick rundown of the bars/restos/clubs that cater to the colourful class, or are just near the main attraction and thus a great place to pop by…
Restaurant/Grilled Cheese Mecca – Located at 56 Bathurst Street
(CHEESEWERKS is prepping a special Rainbow Cole Slaw Salad for Pride)
Restaurant/Occasional Dance Parties – Located at 553 Church Street
Bar – Located at 465-467 Church Street
Vibrant 50s-style Diner – Located at 5 Roncesvalles Avenue
Restaurant/Dance Bar at night – Located at 499 Church Street
The Vic Public House
Restaurant/Bar – Located at 580 Church Street
Cocktail Lounge – Located at 506 Church Street
Crews and Tangos
Nighclub/Drag Queen Shows – Located at 508 Church Street
Bar/Dance Club – Located at 996 Queen Street East
The Flying Beaver Pubaret
Bar/Pub/Live Shows – Located at 488 Parliament Street
Nightclub – Located at 8 Gloucester Street
The Blake House
Restaurant/Patio – Located at 449 Jarvis Street
Restaurant/Brunch – Located at 634 Church Street
Restaurant/Patio – Located at 582 Church Street
Hair of the Dog
Pub – Located at 425 Church Street
Restaurant – Located at 3 Charles Street East
Restaurant – 519 Church Street
Craft Beer Bar – 587 Yonge Street
Friday, June 29th
WAYLA Bar – or What Are You Looking At – has become an East End favourite gay bar/dance club thanks to its out-of-the-village locale and lack of pretension. On Pride Friday, they’re hosting Y2Gay, wherein a consortium of hits from Y2K to present will blare throughout the joint for the bumping boys and grinding gals.
Surprise Party at Cardinal Rule
The monthly surprise party at Cardinal Rule is Pride-themed this month, with a surprise drag queen, themed cocktail and food menus, and a whole lot of rainbow fun. Want to know more about this awesome evening? Click here to see the View the Vibe vlog from last month’s surprise party at Cardinal Rule.
Prism Toronto – part of the Prism festival party circuit – is essentially the master of ceremonies when it comes to Pride parties. On the Friday night, they’re hosting Bootcamp at the Guvernment’s main room. In case it tickles your fancy, there will apparently be international porn stars in attendance, and a video dance party downstairs.
What a creative name, right? (Silence.) In any case, Party City! is taking place at the Garrison (1197 Dundas Street West), and is bringing Larry Tee, Stereogamous, and Betty Ford into the mix for a night of cool grooves and some Pride-ful bumpin’ and grindin’.
Boutique Bar’s having a patio party all weekend long during Toronto’s Pride 2012. We’d reco not ordering the most intricate of cocktails though…it’s likely you’ll have to wait awhile for something with more than three ingredients. Yeah, it’ll be completely packed here Friday through Sunday.
Big Primpin’ Pride Special Edition
This monthly party at Wrongbar is going balls out for Pride 2012. With hip hop beats, four DJs, and lots of dancing ‘mos, this will surely be a hot alternative to the Church Street scene on Pride Friday.
The Barn Nightclub is an interesting ‘complex’ for gay dancing – what with the whole scandal a couple years ago and the ensuing rumours – but expect it to be rammed throughout the Pride Toronto celebrations. On the Friday night, check out three different DJs spinning three different music styles on all three of The Barn’s floors.
Blaze will be the melting pot of young trendy professionals and aspirants; a true representation of the diverse city of Toronto. Throngs of sexy-cool party goers will descend on the HardRock Cafe to soak up the high energy, flavor and hard hitting music.
Saturday, June 30th
Part of the Prism circuit, Aqua is a favourite party amongst muscled hunks, slender twinks, and their oglers. This year’s venue should be pretty rad given it’s at Sugar Beach. Fun in the sun on a Saturday with a backdrop reminiscent of a Speedo ad, what more could you want?
Hard Candy Pride Edition
Another monthly that’s getting a Pride makeover, this time at WAYLA Bar. No cover, great beats, likely less rammed thanks to its lack of proximity to the village. Top 40, House, and Club Anthems all night long.
The other big Prism party during 2012’s Pride is simply titled ‘Main Event’ and it takes over the Guvernment/Kool Haus complex all Saturday night, running right through til 8am Sunday morning. We’re assuming there’s an extended liquor license through til 4am, but wonder what all the partiers will be doing after that until breakfast time the next morning…?
An event geared towards “lesbians of colour,” Tease will likely be a hit on the circuit this year. Why, you ask? Infamous female rapper Da Brat will be hitting up the scene at Screen Lounge during Pride to celebrate with the ladies.
Truck Stop Toronto Pride
The Courthouse at Adelaide and Church is hosting Truck Stop Pride for the ladies, and labelling it the ‘Totally Awesome Anthem Edition’. There aren’t enough lesbian dance parties during Pride 2012, so kudos to the Courthouse for hosting one.
Cherry Bomb Pride
A regular party on Toronto’s scene, Cherry Bomb’s Pride 2012 edition takes over Revival on Pride Saturday, with six different performers/DJs tearing up the dance floor and bringing the vibe to extreme levels.
Beef Ball 2012
Though we’re a carnivorous crew here at VTV, you likely won’t find us at Pride Toronto’s Beef Ball at the Opera House. (They ain’t referrin’ to cows here, son!) The Beef Ball is a dance event for the, shall we say, leather bear inclined. So if you love the new car smell, you might really get off at this one…in more ways than one.
Yes, Yes, Y’All
The Toronto Pride 2012 edition of Yes, Yes, Y’All goes down at the Annex Wreck Room on Saturday night, featuring Jr. Flo, A-Game, Tasha the Amazon and the YYY Crew.
TNT!MEN Naked Dance
If you need more details on this, please see here. We feel it’s pretty self explanatory.
Pride 2012 Saturday at The Barn
The Barn’s Saturday night event sees another five DJs bringing their musical stylings to the dance floors at the three-floor space, also starring the Girls Gone Wild Show and Devine Darlin.
Sunday, July 1st
Acclaimed DJ Peter Rauhofer headlines the final Prism party of this year’s Pride, replete with special DJ guests and a performance by Sofonda Cox, all going down at – surprise, surprise – The Guvernment/Skybar.
Obey the State of Curfew
The Barn’s Sunday night is an all-ages party. We’d go into detail, but that fact alone will decry whether some of you go and some of you avoid it like the plague.
Queer West Pride Closing Party
El Mocambo is the Pride 2012 Queer West closing destination, with three DJs, a whackload of house, hip-hop and electro music, and tons of alterna queers partying it up on the last night of this year’s fest.
Butch Femme Salon
The Rivoli hosts this semi-aquatic themed Pride dance party on closing night, featuring DJ Nik Red and people dressed as Sea Creatures. No, seriously, that’s the suggested dress code.
Goodhandy’s Sunday night event titled in full is “Go Hard! ‘Shut Em Down’ Swag to da Roof.” If that translates for you, then go.