All About Toronto:
Places to bump and grind…
Easy & The Fifth (225 Richmond Street West)
When my boss told me that he frequented Easy & The Fifth (also locally known as "The Big Easy," and also locally nicknamed "The Big Cheese"), I vowed never to step foot into it. It's one thing to work for someone who has a more active social life than you, but it's another thing to bump into your boss at a club (which, by the way, happened last year at Tonic, and which we never spoke of again). Of course, curiosity got the best of me, so on an invitation I went down.
The exclusivity of Easy can be easily seen even before you set foot into it. Like most clubs, it thrives on keeping people outside the door for ridiculous amounts of time in the name of keeping up appearances. The alley entrance is also another tip-off that this club isn't your average good-time place. Rather, it's more like your average look-good place.
The interior is roomy and spacious, and offers several bars as well as plenty of seating and lounging areas, all lit with mood-enhancing candles. The DJ spins a little bit of R&B, hip-hop, reggae, house, Latin, and plenty of retro to keep the masses happy. You won't find anything more hardcore than Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, or Sean Paul though, so if you're a true fan of a particular genre, be prepared to hear its radio-friendly selections only. The crowd is where, my boss tells me, The Big Cheese got its name from. Although Easy & The Fifth doesn't have a strict age minimum (19 with proper I.D. will get you in), the patrons of this club are mostly older, yuppie types, cougars on the prowl (you go girl!), or brides-to-be celebrating their last days of freedom. This is the place where money-hungry women go to hit on Bay-street types or future doctors and lawyers. On one particular occasion, a group of men walked in, still in their day suits. In. Their. Suits. They proceeded to loosen their ties and hit on every woman within a five-metre radius. That's when I knew I had to run and never look back.
Drinks are averagely priced, staff is competent, washrooms are clean, and its reputation screams "upscale." But that isn't nearly enough to make a club worth checking out.
Afterlife (250 Adelaide Street West)
Afterlife, formerly Limelight in its hey-day, is a relatively new spot in the clubbing district. Although it only opened its doors a couple of years ago, the location and legend of its former management helped to pack the place pretty quickly. The club is relatively small compared to Guvernment or Tonic, but its three floors and patio have plenty of room for the Friday and Saturday night crowds.
"The Underworld," Afterlife's lower level, offers two V.I.P. sections (more like reserved seating areas than V.I.P., as anyone can walk in), and a large dance floor to shake your thang. It usually spins R&B, hip-hop, and reggae. "Limbo," the main floor, is more of a lounge, with a circular balcony smack dab in the middle of the room and overlooking "The Underworld" (if you've frequented Limelight before, you know what I'm talking about). Upstairs, in "Paradise," you get a smaller room playing house and techno-jungle. In "The Garden of Eden," its summertime rooftop patio, you'll also get a live DJ.
Once in a while, you'll find a good deal with this place, like $3 drinks all night long on its Labour Day Summer Sendoff Party, and $5 admission before 11:30 on guest list. The crowd is usually mixed and ready for anything, and if you're lucky, there isn't much of a wait at the bar. Besides a smarmy guy or two trying to hit on you, be ready for a good time at Afterlife.
Indian Motorcycle (355 King Street West)
A little ways away from the heart of Toronto's clubbing district lies Indian Motorcycle, a restaurant/bar/lounge/club that takes its namesake quite seriously (just check out the Indian Motorcycle boutique or hog sitting in the lobby, if you don't believe me). On the main floor sits its kitchen and dining room, and just up the stairs is a spacious lounge and dance club.
As far as the menu goes, expect a lot of hoopla for nothing. The price is average for the area - the cost runs anywhere between $15 to $30 for an entrée, and includes standard fare like chicken, salmon, pasta, and steak. Unfortunately, the salmon left more to be desired than I had wished, and I'm not a particularly finicky eater. The pesto sauce, wherein the dry piece of salmon marinated in, was more oil than pesto, and frankly, not worth my digestion time. In fact, no one in my party was impressed with their food.
The lounge and club area of Indian Motorcycle, conveniently located upstairs, provides a less stuffy place for Easy & The Fifth crowds who want a change of venue. You'll still find the typical bachelorette party, where the bride-to-be is the first one to get drunk and rowdy, and the Bay street types who are looking to unwind and find a little floor action with the young, giggling blonde in the corner. The music, if you can call it that, is mostly comprised of top 40 hits and Michael Jackson tributes. The tiny dance floor only gets packed after midnight, but after that, it's hard to find your personal space. With only two small bars in the joint, you're better off ordering drinks from the dining room.
It would seem that Indian Motorcycle is one of the hotter venues for the older crowd, but aside from the décor, there's nothing worth sticking around for.
Money (199 Richmond Street West)
We can only presume that money got its name from two things: the actual currency, or the Swingers-inspired term, as in "that guy is money." Money is a typical club, although the pictures in their photo album, satiated with "boob" shots and guys pimped out to the point of mockery, might tell you otherwise. On any given night, you can catch their go-go dancers shaking their thang on the front outdoor patio, which, as a woman, gives me little reason to go inside.
After hearing rumours about Money's strict guest list (in other words, the bouncers don't think you look good, so you don't get in), there was much hesitation in frequenting a place that based their clientele guidelines on such trivial, superficial things. After all, a club doesn't get paid by how well a person looks, but rather how much they are willing to spend.
With such a reputation, it was a somewhat different experience to actually step inside. Everything looked…well, predictable. There are four floors spinning a mix of hip-hop, R&B, reggae, and house. Each narrow floor houses its own bar and light show, and there is plenty of patio space for smokers. Drinks are priced competitively ($3 Sundays sounds like a pretty good deal), and the crowd really isn't that bad, once you do get past the go-go dancers and the wannabe hipster types. The club still does well despite my rants, though, as the past Thanksgiving long weekend the line-up in the back parking lot was packed beyond belief. Still, like other venues, it does slow down in the wintertime. Average admission is $10, but women will have ample opportunity to pay less than guys.
Money is a hit-or-miss type of place. It will definitely have its regulars, and it will definitely turn some people off. Use your discretion. ¤ C.Ho.