The Best Nightclubs In Toronto
By Christina Cheung for blogto on Jan 18, 2018
The best nightclubs in Toronto are the perfect antidote to a stressful week of work. Fun vibes, scoping out the crowd, hitting the dance floor with your crew, possibly some bottle service – this is the epitome of living it up.
Here are the best nightclubs in Toronto.
Rebel is the re-incarnation of what used to be Sound Academy on Polson Pier by the waterfront. It has generous views of the city's skyline and is home to top international performers on tour.
They've totally revamped the equipment in the huge 45,000 square foot space featuring a crazy 65-foot stage, adding insane visuals on gigantic screens behind the stage, and light features that bounce throughout the club as well as lighting up the ceiling in circles and spirals.
On Saturdays (their weekly dance party hosted by a top line performer) the screens play trippy digital art of various Egyptian-influenced imagery, a masked face, a character with Isis-like wings spinning in slo-mo, or golden lips pouring smoke next to a pixelated butterfly.
I decided to go to Rebel twice, once for a concert and once for one of the Saturdays, and I'm glad I did.
Personally, I'm way more of a concert goer than a club goer, so I hope based on my two experiences you'll know which camp you fall into or find you're happy with both. For the show I attended, the screens played visuals complementing the band's set.
The place is a lot more bare bones when set up for a show. On Rebel Saturdays, the space is filled out with more elements. Performers dance inside glass boxes, painted gold and wearing elaborate costumes on the night I visited.
There are also cage-like seating areas on the main dance floor on Saturday nights, set up with booth-like benches and a little table in the middle with cups ready for a group seeking bottle service to make their headquarters.
As usual with this sort of club, drinks are wildly expensive. For the concert everything came in plastic cups, but my first whiskey and coke ($8.50) on a Saturday is served in a classier cup that isn't glass, but is a lot closer to it visually, and is garnished with a lime wedge.
My second drink comes out rushed and isn't quite consistent with the first, and there's no lime wedge but I grab one from a little tumbler on the bar.
$7.50 beers and $8.50 mixed drinks are nothing compared to the outrageous bottle service. They make a huge deal out of it if that's your thing, a team of girls raising bottles over their heads and waving sparklers in the air.
The range goes from cheaper Bacardi and Bombay Sapphire 750mL bottles to an insane six litres of Ace of Spades champagne for nearly nine grand.
Coda is the spiritual successor to the much loved Footwork, one of Toronto's most best-known dance clubs to cater to a demanding, techno loving audience.
But with the steady dismantling of the Entertainment District, it only made sense for Joel Smye and Stephan Philion to take their business elsewhere.
What they've inherited is the essence of the former Annex Wreckroom. After a careful analysis and number of test runs, they've transformed it into a high caliber night club that properly makes use of the sprawling space.
And it makes a lot of sense. Having been to rock nights, concerts, and DJ shows, I've always felt that the energy was always most efficient when concentrated towards the front stage. Awkward clusters of people dancing in semi-circles just isn't very conducive to a good time. But more about that later.
From what I saw at the John Talabot show when I paid my visit, people were dressed pretty much however they felt comfortable. There were fans in music tees losing their shit to fat bass lines, there were dressy clubber types and suburban spiky hedgehogs on the hunt for a new mate -- and, really, everything in between.
As mentioned, there have been many structural changes to the club proper. The awkward kidney shaped island bar monstrosity that, I guess seemed useful at the time for servicing patrons from all angles yet created awkward dead spaces on the dance floor, has been annihilated. Kidney bar begone!
In its place is a fully cleansed dance floor surrounded with relatively comfortable booths and couches with a main bar towards on the opposite side of the stage.
There's even a couch-bench that faces the bar, so you can keep a watchful eye on your date, or your friends in line. There's also another bar tucked away stage right, on a slightly elevated alcove, lined with couches and benches.
Drinks are not exactly cheap, but they don't reach outrageous prices, with beers ranging from $6.50 (domestic) to $7 or $8 (imports, Pilsner tall cans, Guiness, Strongbow).
Mixed drinks also start at $6.25 and go upwards from there. Water and flavoured Aquafina bottles are both $4.25. At least you get flavour!
This club was designed to make you lose yourself in the music, and there's a kick ass PK sound system to make sure that happens, making it one of the best in the city at the moment.
Built around the far side of the dance floor is an elevated corridor with bar stools that gives you a perched area for all your stalky inclinations.
If you're going to be dancing with someone that was not the person you arrived with, you had best be selective about your location, like that dusky area by the front bar; it's pretty much lights out over there.
It's not just the conveniently arranged seating, but also the intelligent ceiling lighting that leads to voyeurism where you least expect it.
Like when you're minding your own business on the dance floor and all of a sudden the lights go into UFO-landing-strip-meets-carnival-mode, and you become very aware that you might be the most semi-sober person in a 20 foot radius.
During a trip to the washroom, the dude in the urinal next to me yells "let's get a cheer for being fucked up." "Not me, I'm sober as a judge," says the guy to my left. I decide he's lying.
Who in their right mind would actually use that expression, and be caught in a place like this? Something's up, but that's none of my business.
With the massive Footwork fan base and convenient Bloor and Bathurst location, Coda fits right in with the mess of bars in a neighbourhood underserved by clubs.
And while it's unlikely that there will be much spillover from, say, The Brunswick House, there will no doubt be enough foot traffic queuing up to see what all the fuss is about.
Wildflower is just one edition of the Thompson Hotel 's nightlife scene.
I visited the club late one Friday evening after navigating down several flights of stairs and around some corners (great because you already feel like you had a successful night just by finding the bar).
The space has very high ceilings, with two bars at either end, and a DJ booth just behind one of the bars. Bottle service booths line the perimeter of the space, and there's a small elevated area behind the DJ booth with additional seating.
Wildflower is very well-decorated, with a suspended flower bush over the DJ, giant fluorescent light tubes hanging from the ceiling and art covering the walls, including a graffitied cartoon cat that made eye contact with me no matter where in the bar I was standing.
Feeling slightly threatened by the cat and emotionally drained from having watched the touching Bruce Jenner interview instead of pre-drinking, I decided I needed a cocktail.
When I asked the bartender if they had a signature drink, she suggested the Wildflower ($16), a mix of tequila and yellow Red Bull. It was fantastic.
The crowd was pretty relaxed when I arrived at the bar, some dancing, but mostly sitting, drinking and discussing the best parts of the interview (Brandon Jenner , obviously).
Then, like a reverse, booze-fuelled Cinderella, it hit midnight and the party really started. Clubgoers flooded in and the dance floor went from Mandy-Moore-mild to Britney-Spears-in-2008-crazy.
Two people screamed, hugged, and waved their arms like they were choking. A dude shuffled his feet at a rapid pace. Three girls danced around like they were middle-aged women in the "After" part of a commercial advertising cream for vaginal itch.
A white dude in expensive loafers stood on a bench and commanded the attention of some of the people around him - thank god, probably the only time society will listen to what he has to say.
And the cartoon cat continued to watch me.
As the night went on, the party continued steadily. People ordered lots of bottle service (exciting sparklers!), employees monitored the dance floor with vacant expressions (important safety!) and a female server sold test tube shots to the crowd (great promotion of women in STEM fields!).
At the end of the night, I left promising myself I would come back to Wildflower, and not just to settle the score with the cartoon cat.
Going to Wildflower is like getting drunk in a nice art gallery, except it's way more fun, there are no whiny children, and no one asks you to leave when you loudly misinterpret the O'Keeffe.
Though cover can be on the expensive side ($10-20 depending on the night/your gender), the great drinks and interesting decor make it a must-visit club.
4. Lost and Found
Lost and Found is basement club located on a lively strip of King St. West. The club plays host of DJs and offers bottle service to partygoers.
5. Uniun Nightclub
Uniun Nightclub is almost self-consciously a nightclub. Brought to you by "nightlife king" (and you know he must be growing weary of that title) Charles Khabouth and Ink Entertainment.
It was conceived as being "the first of its kind," with LED-light installations, top-of-the-line sound system, and the industrial appeal of the original space (which previously housed Devil's Martini ).
Uniun is a dizzying mish-mash of influences and aspirations that actually, surprisingly, work.
You enter through the old-familiar factory archway and into a dim, cavernous space, that (despite being 16,000 feet) is packed by midnight, making moving to and fro a writhing conga line.
It's hard to say what won me over here, as opposed to other clubs I've visited in my mid-to-late twenties, but it could be the uber-stylish crowd (including spottings of Lucian Matis and the Greta Constantine duo), or the successful contrast of factory, pseudo-antiques, and modern technology.
There are cordoned off VIP booths, and there's an overall fogginess (the source of which is hard to identify), but the LED lights, which line the walls and ceilings, and also come in the form of hanging vines, pulsate in time to the music, and several flat-screens display trippy images.
Behind the dark wood of the main bar area, you'll find beautiful, bandage-dressed and leather-corseted servers doing their best with the regular club roster of bottled beers, Red Bulls, and a bottle service menu that ranges from $200-$2,000.
Cocktails run between $8.25 and $12.50, and their Belvedere blackberry martinis are well-balanced and slightly tart.
Above the bottles is a series of shelves displaying Lady Gaga-ish curiosities--from taxidermied birds posed amongst flowers in glass jars, to apothecary details, to a ceramic skull displaying phrenological areas of the brain.
The club is currently only open on Fridays and Saturdays beginning at 10 p.m., and on Friday nights--which are intended for known electronic acts and their ready-to-sweat fan base--the party goes 'til 4 a.m.
I stopped by on a Saturday, and the DJ played throwback tunes, top 20s, and a particularly discordant remix of Gotye 's "Somebody I Used to Know," while two topless, body-painted go-go dancers (wearing space-age-inspired goggles to avoid eye contact) gyrated atop wooden platforms in the middle of the large dance floor.
There's a subterranean element, as well. Downstairs, there's the coat check, and--down a somewhat seedy, blue-tinged corridor--you'll find bathrooms, a lounge area, as well as another bar (in case you very urgently need your G&T refreshed).
It seems Khabouth has, yet again, thought of everything.
6. EFS Nightclub
Though I've been to EFS (the rooftop patio) several times and always had a positive experience, I was a little worried about EFS (the nightclub).
I know what it's like to have an older sibling as a measuring stick, living in the shadow of someone who is a little cooler, a little wiser, and never fell victim to the trend of sweatpants with text across the butt.
So how did EFS (the nightclub) measure up? In the words of my sixth-grade teacher Sr. McCarthy, they're cut from the same cloth but with different patterns.
In this case, the cloth is an expensive, luxurious fabric (like silk but vegan-friendly) and while the patio is a laidback maxiskirt, the nightclub is a sassy freakum dress.
The nightclub is gorgeously decorated with leather booths and lighting that is oddly reminiscent of Focus Features International 's logo.
One wall is adorned with vintage ads and pictures including a fun Tim Horton's print and a newspaper bearing the famous War is Over headline (which is currently accurate but could get murky in the near future.
The DJ booth is raised above the dance floor at one end of the club, acting as the overseer of the club, the Quasimodo of EFS.
Overall, the nightclub is both chic and comfortable - like it could be a friend's home, but only the type of friend who had really rich parents that probably did a lot of coke in the 70s.
I ordered a double vodka martini ($16) from resident mixologist Jonathon Crosson . The martini was very strong but palatable, which seems to be a dangerous combination.
This is the type of martini that ends in texts to your ex or eating nutella out of the jar with a spoon or being a political figure in Western Canada for a very long time.
Similar to the drinks on the rooftop patio, it was on the expensive side, but so strong and enjoyable that there was no need for a second.
As the night went on, the club started to fill up. Initially it was dominated by Financial District types (in suits) but a wider variety of people from King West (in heels) and partiers from the Jays game (in jorts) started to arrive closer to midnight.
It was one patron's birthday and the bottle service was accompanied by sparklers and delivered by the beautiful servers - the adult equivalent of having your mom bring cupcakes to class but with more Red Bull and much sexier.
I will definitely return to EFS, though likely on a Wednesday again as cover steadily increases throughout the week ($10 on Wednesday-Thursday, $15 on Friday and $20 on Saturday).
It's safe to say that EFS (the nightclub) has found its own footing and blossomed into a beautiful young club, unique from the rooftop patio but with some of the same positive elements. Their parents must be so proud.
Nest is a house music club located where Ryze used to be. Featuring an impressive sound system, Nest hosts a mix of international and local DJs.
I visited Nest late one sweltering Friday night. Like Ryze, the club is located up a cardiovascular-challenging and depth-perception-daring set of stairs.
After climbing the stairs, showing ID and paying cover (usually $20 if you're on guestlist, $25 if not), guests are admitted to Nest.
Nest is huge - 13,000 square feet of room to shake, rattle and vogue. The DJ booth is located at one end of the space, with bottle service stations scattered throughout the club.
Bars are on either side of the space, with the washrooms on the far end, opposite the DJ booth.
The space is decorated in an intriguing manner that perfectly encapsulates the theme.
Giant nests that look like enormous popsicle stick sculptures are all over the place, and gorgeous, enormous paper airplanes appear to be taking flight from their nesting place on the wall.
Even the bottle service benches look like that third seat from minivans that wind up in the garages of every parent who owns a vehicle with 8+ seating for 3+ children and zero patience ( yes, a garage - the very place where possums build nests! Total theme commitment ).
The great decor is only slightly upstaged by the insane sound system and cool lights.
The sound system is a DYNACORD (in layperson terms, it's a very expensive system that sounds really good) and the LED lights create a cool light show (in layperson terms, electricity is being used in new and exciting ways in our sometimes unpredictable modern world).
I decided to treat myself to a vodka soda ($7), which was good but over far too soon.
I also treated myself to a shot of Alize ($7) because sometimes a lady deserves a mouthful of cognac-based liqueur while at an EDM club after spending all day trying to convince her improv troupe to take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (typical ENTJ behaviour).
When I went to buy the shot, the bartender noticed that the bottle's automatic shot pourer was pouring a little light, and took the time to pour two separate shots and combine them into one shot glass.
It was nice that the bartender seemed to care whether or not I got shortchanged, which is unusual at a club.
As it got later, the party got crazier. Three girls took their shoes off and danced while taking selfies. A couple ballroom-danced to the house music. A dude in athletic shorts stood in front of the heavy-duty fan that was amplifying the already-frigid air conditioning.
As I left the club, patrons were dancing even harder, with the three girls getting down on the dancefloor and the couple moving from ballroom dance to grinding. The dude in athletic shorts was still standing in front of the fan.
Nest is a cool club with a great sound system and impressive lights and decor. If DJs aren't your thing, it might be tough to justify paying such a hefty cover for a club that is mostly catered towards the music-and-lights crowd and doesn't offer much else.
If, on the other hand, you're looking to check out well-known DJs or you want to explore more DJs from the local scene, this is the place to go.
8. Fly Nightclub 2.0
Fly 2.0 is the redone version of the Fly nightclub we all know and love. Located in the same space in the Village , Fly 2.0 is fun, fierce, and fabulous.
I visited Fly 2.0 late one night, excited to see how Fly 2.0 differed from Fly 1.0.
Like iPhones, would the newer redux indicate an increase in quality? Or would it just be a sad rehashing of a once-successful concept, like M. Night Shyamalan movies ?
Fortunately, Fly 2.0 falls into the former category. Like the original space, Fly 2.0 has the same amazing dance floor on the first floor, with a wraparound-style balcony on the second floor for people to watch dancers work it out below.
The lighting system is intense, flashing and moving faster than a weirdo in a trenchcoat.
The small additions to the old Fly include a new entrance as well as newly opened space on the second floor. While the second floor has always has a small area to sit and chat, this new room is quieter, with high tables and gorgeous floor-to-ceiling windows.
It's nice to have a little space to take a time out from the loud music and fog machine.
Despite the fact it's in the middle of a club, it seems like the kind of place you would go for a quiet cocktail with a friend or to gently accuse someone of giving you chlamydia.
I asked the bartender for the most popular drink, and he handed over a Mike's Hard Black Cherry Lemonade ($8.25). Combined with all the super hot dudes that were definitely not into me, it brought back so many memories of high school.
Noted Toronto photographer Jesse Milns ordered a tequila and soda ($6.25) which he said "tasted good" (unprompted), and "did not taste like bile" (prompted because tequila always tastes like bile).
The club filled with even more enthusiastic partiers as the night went on. As someone who has seen every episode of Dance Moms , I can accurately say that everyone on the dance floor was truly fantastic, working it to the beat and stopping only for occasional selfies and grindr breaks.
With amazing dancing, intense lighting and cool atmosphere, partying at Fly 2.0 is like experiencing a k-hole of happiness. The drinks aren't super cheap, but if you show up before 11:30, you can avoid cover (it jumps from free to $8 at 11:30 and then $12 at 1 am).
Fly 2.0 has shown that like John Stamos , a little age and a few renovations can take something that is pretty good and make it even better.
9. Liar Liar
Liar Liar calls itself “Toronto’s best kept secret.” What was formerly Elements at Adelaide & Brant has also kept the VIP booths and bottle service, but added graffiti-like art on the walls (perfect for IG).