Remington’s, Toronto’s storied gay strip bar, was abruptly shut down on May 9.
“The landlord locked the doors. We couldn’t even get inside,” says Shawn Parks, an assistant general manager at the club.
Parks says a former staffer failed to pay the rent. He calls it an “unfortunate miscommunication,” one that could have been avoided. The club reopened after nine days but, says Parks, the closure has taken a toll on business.
“Customers have been calling the club, asking if we’re open,” says Eric Rose, another Remington’s assistant general manager.
Parks says the peeler bar did not close because of liquor licence infractions or because of a breach of city bylaws. Also, says Parks, speculation that George Pratt, who operates George’s Play, is returning to the club is false, says Parks.
Meanwhile, Robby Sorensen, who managed Remington’s last year under a previous owner, returns to the club as general manager.
“I’ve watched this club make a lot of mistakes,” says Sorensen, who began his career at Remington’s as a dancer. Between managing the strippers and abiding by the city’s burlesque bylaws, Sorensen admits Remington’s is “a very hard club to run.”
Since reopening the club has made amends with its landlord, says Sorensen.
“It’s not like the business is in any jeopardy of failing,” he says. The next order of business, says Sorensen, is to “grab the club by the horns and make it fun again.”
That includes giving it a new name that Sorensen says will likely be revealed this summer.
Remington’s has a laundry list of items to get done, says Rose, that includes updating the club’s website, which allows users to browse pictures of the club’s dancers (the same eight dancers have been featured there for months).
Customers will also say sayonara to the upstairs private dance booths. The area, among other structural elements in the club, will be renovated over the next few months, says Sorensen.
Sorensen plans to launch gay afterhours nights, Fridays and Saturdays, in the club’s intimate upstairs space.
“It won’t be like the afterhours, shirts-off experience you’d get at Fly,” says Sorensen. “It’ll be a grown-up, intimate, Euro-style experience and, of course, gay.”
The new night will be called The Afterlife, and will “definitely launch before Pride,” says Sorensen.
Relocating Remmington’s to the village would be ideal, says Sorensen, but “unfortunately the club’s burlesque entertainment licence is married to the building.”
The City of Toronto does not grant or reissue burlesque entertainment licences for strip clubs.
“If our building ever gets torn down the business will go with it,” says Sorensen.