Like Ylvis’s song “The Fox,” regular lesbian club nights tend to burst into existence and then disappear all too quickly. But that’s not the case with two newish Toronto monthlies: Bush Beat and Back to Church.
Bush Beat is a laid-back west-end party that features music from a variety of genres and eras, with a focus on retro dance tunes (1980s and ’90s), and often draws a somewhat older crowd (30 and up). Like Back to Church, it is open to all queer people but is geared more toward the ladies.
Bobby Valen, owner of the Henhouse, where the party happens, encouraged Jenny Watson to create this regular monthly event after seeing the success of her Pride 2014 happening, Bible Camp. Watson enlisted her girlfriend, Jess Tollefsen, to help organize the party. “It’s a great, creative thing for us to do together,” Watson says. “There aren’t enough women’s nights in the west end, so it’s nice having a space for that.”
Back to Church is a very different kind of party, which focuses on newer dance hits, tends to appeal to a younger crowd, and takes place smack in the middle of the Village. Brittany Leigh, the party’s promoter, says, “In terms of music, the Church Street crowd likes stuff that they know, like top 40.”
As its name suggests, the party was created, in part, as a response to parties ending or moving away from the Village. Anushki Bodhinayake, resident DJ of Back to Church, explains, “After Slack’s closed, I noticed that more and more lesbians were leaving Church Street and moving to the west end, and I thought it was so sad, so I came up with the concept of Back to Church, because I wanted to bring people back to Church Street.”