Toronto has to be one of the greatest party cities in the world and after summer 2022 that title is near undeniable. In 2022 the city has hosted Caribana, PRIDE, Rolling Loud, NXNE, TIFF, The Young Money Reunion aka OVO Fest, Digital Dreams, and just about every major touring act in the world, but beyond the corporate sponsored festivals Toronto’s underground party scene is in good hands thanks to a few local legends in the making.
These folks consistently throw the greatest parties/events while highlighting the abundance of local talent; they elevate the profile of the city while creating the vibrant inclusive culture that makes Toronto great. I had the chance to sit and chat with a few of them for this list and was blown away by them all. This is your guide to toronto nightlife through the eyes of a 28 year old nightlife degenerate who likes to trip balls and avoid buying bottles at shitty clubs, so in no particular order:
Designed to help increase access to community and resources for queer femme, BIPOC folks entering into or already working within the DJ/Music industry, PEP RALLY, is a VERY SERIOUS rave. Established professionals, globally touring DJs Karim Olen Ash and Chippy Nonstop are the masterminds behind what has become an ICON in Toronto’s underground nightlife over the last few years.
This party can stand with the best in the world, from Berlin to South Africa, or anywhere else you can think of. I would never tell anyone to do any substances but if you had a favorite, I’d keep it ready for a night by them.
Also these raves can and will happen anywhere they damn well want to. Just know the vibes are real if HYPOTHETICALLY it’s covid lockdown and you have a bunch of toronto baddies going off in a park who are also willing to run from the cops at any moment because we were under zero gathering quarantine rules.
Boiler ROOM Certified as of 2019 and 10/10 on the sticky sweaty body scale. Cover $0-25
Smoked TO is a party space dedicated to ensuring BIPOC, femme & gender queer bodies can safely cut loose while enjoying the best DJ’s and cannabis culture Toronto has to offer. Brought to you by the Ace Group, run by “Kash”, Smoked is a fully infused experience of dance, positivity, creativity and really fucking good weed, did i mention the weed? This party gives big “for us, by us” energy and it should not be underestimated, even the mac and cheese will get you stoned if the DJ hasn’t already shaken your soul out of your body. Another 10/10 on the sticky sweaty body scale. Catch a bubble and be respectful.
BoilerRoom Certified 2022, Cover $15-25
The international sensation that made the solitude of quarantine a little more bearable by turning your home into a room in the world’s largest club. Created from a mindset of providing care in isolation for an already vulnerable community, Club Quarentine, or “Club Q”, is a home for queer expression through dance and music, both in the virtual and IRL experience. Unhinged, chaotic, beautiful gender euphoria.
BoilerRoom Certified 2020, Cover $15-25
Diaspora by design, and dedicated to bringing the flavor of the african electronic dance scene to Toronto and the world. Kuruza brings DJs of African descent to center stage in some of Toronto’s most iconic late-night/afterhours venues. “KIGA”, custom printed on the back of an Intermillan jersey is how I knew they were not here for play-play. Bringing afro house in all its genres and wonder to Toronto one night at a time.
BoilerRoom Certified 2022, Cover $15-25
Started as a facebook group I used to follow back in undergrad (2012), showing me to my first afterhours in toronto, Boosie Fade sets the bar and then exceeds it. They are a Hip-Hop community born through long chat threads and truly engaging posts where audiophiles, engineers, budding artists, superfans or the casual listener can gather to talk about the nuances of modern music. This is where I found out about DMX passing before it hit the blogs. To this day BOOSIE FADE: THE GROUP puts me on to new music releases every friday, and allows me to shamelessly promote my creativity and businesses. Now growing into a staple for TIFF events, they have not left the hiphop roots with their tried and tested party that I would literally risk it all for. Boosie Fade 48 was the last one of 2022 and they warn their run is coming to an end in 2023 with one or two more of these gems planned, so enjoy while it lasts.
The newest entrant into my list, still in their first year, SKIN.OUTT just has the right energy, the makings of something great. The brainchild of audio/visual/3D artist M.I. Blue and @yourfav.bratzdolls, this party is paying homage to how people used to dance like the world was theirs, and wind like nobody was watching. Self described as “THE BASHMENT PARTY YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU NEEDED”, this is sure to become an establishment in toronto nightlife.
Deep Dive: SMOKED.TO
August 3rd, one week after PRIDE I sat down with Kash and David to chop it up about SMOKED.
It’s all about intention meets execution, the message is clear, good vibes and celebrating the freedom of who we are, all shapes and sizes…Can you describe what Smoked means to you?
“It’s not about sexuality, it’s about spaces where you can go to a party and know that your security, your bartender, your door person and everyone at that party is a woman is a girl, its giving that.”
What is the Ace Group, what’s the objective? “You can’t control people, you can control environments. energy, so you can be yourself, be free, be in that space,”
“The Ace Group, the umbrella group to Smoked, is a support system, a collective of creatives and event organizers who goal is to make sure that all the things you wanna accomplish as a person who is black, creative or POC, you can find it within your own community and that you don’t need to go out to white folks to get it done”
When I talk about BIPOC issues, the other side comes up, white supremacy, and I don’t wanna dance around the issue?
“I dont dance around it, it’s the cause for everything, it’s why I do what i do, I dont wanna be in cis white, or cis black spaces, I don’t seek validation from anyone but my self. So my thing is I want to give platforms to people that deserve it but are not getting the chances, maybe they don’t feel confident enough to actually do what they want to do in the world because of white supremacy and the trickle down effect of it. But then, you let someone know their talent is worthy, and is being received, and also here are the ways, resources, and means to do it..Lets get it.”
Lets get it.