Opening Night, Sat, Aug 2 @ Fly 2.0
What if we all let the schoolyard bully lay claim to the sandbox? Globally those with powerful weapons are exerting their destructive might, while locally those with prime properties are putting up financial fights. For example, Fly nightclub closed down (briefly) in part because of the steep rent the landlord wanted to charge. If it wasn’t for the determination of DJ Shawn Riker, one of the original founders, Toronto may have lost its last true gay dance venue. But with the persuasive power of a seasoned politician, Riker managed to get the inflated rent reduced and became the sole, official owner of the club that he himself named 15 years ago. The basement level is no longer in use (for now); we enter the main floor past floor-length glass partitions with large, black fingerprint decals (perhaps from the short lived Alibi Nightclub?) and into the pulsing-heat action of Fly 2.0’s inaugural night. Some whine that the new name isn’t very creative, but why change something (except for legal reasons) that has such history? Other changes include the opening of a second floor, a floor-to-ceiling windowed lounge, the relocation of the second floor DJ booth and the removal of the floor beneath it (which allows for a more spacious dance floor), a return to a focus on the decorations that surround the mirror ball and a bigger stage. At 2am, Sofonda, covered in gold glitter paint, takes this stage and stuns the packed audience with an intense dance routine reminiscent of La La La Human Steps. The venue still has the Fly feel, but with a Shawn twist. Expect more as the months go by, but changes don’t come cheap. If we want to keep this club, we have to support it. Leave your misconceptions, your attitude and your differences at the door. It’s time to fly . . . again.
Unisex, Friday August 1 @ Flash
What if we all unquestionably followed the rules set forth by others before us? Globally, anti-queer laws need to be banished, while locally, rules that make little sense are being broken. For example, Flash strip club and Erotica were originally men’s only spaces, but when promoters Monty Tayara and Joey Viola of MoJo Productions proposed a party in these testosterone-filled walls they insisted that their event be mixed. “We don’t just party with gay guys,” Joey points out. “So why would we organize a party that was that inclusive?” Monty continues, without missing a beat. Their monthly party, Unisex, is exactly that. A mixed crowd of gay, lesbian, bi, straight, trans, drag queen — and everyone in-between — all mingle upstairs in Erotica. A few months back, I proposed that Flash and Erotica combined could become the new Fly nightclub. But now that Fly is open again that prophecy need not come true, and we can enjoy this space for what it is: an intimate dance spot that gets kind of crazy with the addition of erotic dancers from Flash and drunken, amateur pole dancers. In between the hip-hop beats of DJ Recklezz a short Andrew Christian underwear fashion show takes place, and performances by Juice Boxx and Divine Darlin’ keep us fully engaged. But it is drag king Kenny who has the room intrigued. It’s still true: lesbians really do look like Justin Bieber . . . and apparently, they like to perform his songs too. Breaking the rules never felt so right.