December usually means end-of-year lists. The best party, most fashionably dressed, 10 best plays, coolest new resto. At every other time, I do love me some gossip, but right now I say skip it.
I’m not being a humbug, I swear; it’s just that I’d rather look ahead to the future. This year had its ups and down for all us, I’m sure, but 2012 nightlife is a beautiful blank canvas waiting for our handprints.
Anything could happen, and that same promise holds true every night we step out in Toronto. It’s what keeps me engaged and hungry to see people succeed as scenes change . . . and change they will. Drag queens age out. Clubs pursue new clientele. Condos move in; fresh blood arrives with claws out to succeed. New buildings and spaces appear and will sometimes clash with the mainstays and the way things were.
Queen West is not the same today as it was even two or three years ago, and we can lament and eulogize or adapt. If adapting fails, we can pull up stakes and find new spaces!
Church St has a new southern anchor, but will that stop any of us from going wherever we want in the city? Ten years ago, few people would have predicted the big rush to live and socialize in a westerly direction, but then the Parkdale explosion happened and the city’s queer nightlife was revitalized. May 2012 bring us new Parkdales north and east. Toronto’s a big city. Let’s use it!
Now, of course, I have some specific hopes and desires for 2012.
Desire number one: to see Toronto artists take over. I just got back from performing in NYC, where I saw our very own DJ Shane Percy dished in an issue of Next. It makes me proud to see our city and its denizens networking across borders, and if anyone deserves that kind of success, it’s our boy Shane, who has been grapefruiting hard for years!
Another name to look out for is MC Jazz, whose hot beats, politically engaging but sexy lyrics, and fierce style set her apart. How many queer Muslim female rappers are out there? Toronto has a history of producing multi-hyphenated artists; Jazz is a unique presence and one who deserves a big audience. Make no mistake, though — she backs up her politics with solid writing and great tunes. Check out her shows now so you can say, “I saw her when . . .”
Desire number two is a bit selfish. Not that I expect the world to jump to my late-nights-out schedule, but would it kill us to have a cute 24-hour resto on the Church St strip? My default late-night hangouts are Fran’s on Shuter St (better than the College St location, although that diner does offer some deliciously sketchy people-watching) and The Lakeview on Dundas (you can’t see the lake, but what the hell — people are usually too drunk to notice).
I’m thinking something along the lines of 7 West, at Yonge and Charles, a place to keep the conversation flowing after last call. For that matter, who do we talk to about making last call an hour or two later? Really. I love our city and the people in it, but when I’m city-hopping, I see Montreal, New York, Chicago and pretty much every other city that matters still burning while we are daintily stepping to bed. Toronto should not be a maiden aunt on these matters!
Desire number three is joy and health for you, dear readers. Add to that: short coat-check lines, plentiful drink tickets, great theatre, free-flowing inspiration and the thrill of seeing dreams realized.
Wherever and however I end up ringing in the new year, I will be thinking of all the wonderful freaks out there in the dark that I haven’t met yet and hoping that amongst them will be some new friends.
Here’s my challenge to you: make a new friend on New Year’s Eve. Platonic or not, make a new fresh connection for the new, fresh year. After all, isn’t the whole point of going out at night finding that connection? A body, an ear, a hand or a community? That’s the beauty of the city at night — you’re never the only freak.