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Mysterious Crews/Tango closure continues

Rumours are flying fast & furious

CREWS & TANGO. The future of Church St's beloved drag bar, which has been closed for more than 18 weeks, remains uncertain.

Crews and Tango? More like bruised and mangled.

The future of Church St’s beloved drag bar, which has been closed for more than 18 weeks, remains uncertain as the club’s owners — whoever they are — remain tight-lipped on the bar’s plans to reopen.

The bar, which closed Apr 13 for reasons undisclosed, was supposed to reopen in time for Pride. Word of a reopening generated excitement among club crawlers nostalgic for cheap drag, cheap jokes and — arguably — cheap drinks.

The bar had everything in place. They had the hype (show me a twink who hasn’t asked what Amanda Roberts, Nicolette Brown, Farra N Hyte and Heaven Lee Hytes, some of the bar’s most notable drag performers, have been up to). They had the Facebook group (detailing the most original weekly lineup in years). They had a special event lined up (the preliminaries for the Mr Atlas contest, another male ogling showdown, was scheduled for opening night).

Then, before you could say gimmie-a-double-vodka-soda-with-a-twist-of-lime, Pride arrived and the drag bar stayed closed. Did they get cold heels? Your guess is as good as mine.

Calls to the bar’s main line remain unanswered. Inquiries made to some of the bar’s resident performers have been met with either “I don’t know” or “no comment.”

Of course there are rumours: The bar changed ownership. They lost their liquor licence. They’re renovating. They’re tearing the building down and building a condo. I’ve heard them all, so tell me a new one.

For starters, it’s unclear who actually owns the damn place. According to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), Crews isn’t licensed under a name, just a number —  2199321 Ontario Inc, to be exact.

According to AGCO’s Lisa Murray, Crews cancelled its liquor licence May 14, nearly one month after it closed in April. The bar has since applied for a new licence, she says.

The fact that someone has applied for a new liquor licence for the club may suggest new ownership, says Murray. Even though owners who take over a bar’s licence aren’t penalized for past infractions, “a lot of people tend to get a licence with no baggage and start fresh.”

Contrary to rumours Crews hasn’t violated any liquor laws lately. According to AGCO records the last time the bar had its liquor licence suspended was in June 2008 — 10 days for overcrowding.

The new licence application is being reviewed, Murray said on Aug 13, which means Crews cannot legally serve liquor right now. 

But they can serve food. According to the Toronto Buildings and Inspections Division, Crews applied for a “preparation of light meal” licence this past May and was approved in June. Moreover the building has passed all its inspections. 

“I don’t see why it’s not open,” says city rep Kay Salamaya.

So what’s left? A 30-storey Crews condo boasting rooms furnished with sequins and feather boas? Guess again. According to Michael Hynes, senior planner at the City of Toronto, no one has submitted an application to build a condo on the Crews site. Even if Crews did become a residence, it wouldn’t be mammoth. The building’s lot, says Hynes, is restricted to six stories max.

Only the bar’s owners know the truth and staying secretive is a slap in the face to the hundreds of customers whom have spent hundreds, if not thousands, on booze at Crews, week after week and the bar’s staff and the drag queens and kings whose talent made the rickety ol’ bar bearable.

The owners need to speak up. It’s the least they could do.