When Daily Xtra spoke to club owner Harry Singh in the summer as Zipperz was set for demolition to make room for a new condo development, he said the Toronto LGBT community hadn’t seen the last of him. He kept his promise.
Blyss Nightclub had its grand opening on Oct 28, 2016 under the ownership of Singh, the former owner of Zipperz, which closed its doors in July. The space is at 504 Church St, which most recently housed Church on Church.
“Zipperz had its time,” Singh says. “It worked for the 18 years it was there.”
Although Singh has opened another dance space in the Church-Wellesley Village, he says Blyss will not be a reboot of Zipperz. Memorable treasures like the piano bar will be no more. “Towards the end there was a lot of things that wasn’t working. [Blyss is] going to be something for everybody,” he says.
Singh hopes renovations including the removal of seating areas and the relocation of the DJ booth will create a more open space. “I’m going to bring more of a clubby feeling,” he says.
While Blyss’s programming is still being finalized, Singh says part of his shift towards a club atmosphere will mean focusing less on drag shows.
“There’s a lot drag around here,” he says. “I’m going to have somewhere where people go dancing.” Singh says, though he says Exposed, Georgie Girl and Sofonda Cox’s Saturday evening show, will continue at Blyss.
“When we performed at Zipperz it was like a family because it was very intimate,” Cox says about continuing the show at Blyss. “So when we came back, [the Zipperz clientele] were all there.”
Heaven Lee Hytes’ drag show from Zipperz will also continue at Blyss, switching from its former Thursday slot to Monday nights.
In addition to old favourites, Blyss will boast new parties and bring back some events that began at Church on Church, including the popular women’s event Back to Church, which celebrated its fourth anniversary on Nov 11. “Continuing our party in an event space run by a strong and successful business owner is an exciting new chapter,” says Joey Viola, half of MOJO Toronto, who produce Back to Church with DJ Delicious.
Many gay businesses in the Church-Wellesley Village have been forced to shut down due to financial hardships but rarely make a comeback. Recent developments have also been pushing out gay dance spaces in the Village to make room, for example, for a new condo at Church and Carlton Streets.
“The more I look around, it seems that everything’s being squeezed out. There’s hardly any venues anymore,” Singh says.
Singh hopes Blyss will serve as a multipurpose nightclub. He says the direction that Blyss takes will largely depend on promoters and event planners. “I’m keeping an open concept so the room can be used for whatever event,” he says. One such unorthodox event is a comedy show by Carla Collins, a Canadian comic and former TV personality, scheduled for Nov 17.
Maintaining a business in the Village is difficult, but Singh says it’s necessary. “I question myself, why I go back to it,” he says. “Maybe in seven or eight years I’ll wrap it up. For now there’s still a need for spaces like this.”