The home of the old Club Toronto, a 122-year-old historical building and an important community landmark as the site of the 2000 Pussy Palace bathhouse raids, will soon reopen as a swingers’ club.
This fall, the building will launch as the Oasis Aqualounge, catering to “sexually adventurous” straight couples and single women.
New owner Toni Johnson took over after Club Toronto closed its doors this past April. The new space, she says, will be “a day and night club, almost like a resort, where you can have a drink and a bite and lounge by the poolside, socialize and dance.” One of the venue’s most attractive draws is the outdoor pool, which Johnson plans to make a key feature of the new club.
“I’m really excited to be in this neighbourhood,” Johnson says, although she admits the building itself was the bigger draw.
“The establishment is magnificent. It’s one of so few historical places remaining, to see it with the baseboards and trim and stained glass,” she says. “One of the defining things for me was that it has a pool and private courtyard. You just can’t get that kind of thing downtown.”
For Johnson, an entrepreneur whose background is predominantly in the software business, the Oasis Aqualounge is a bit of a departure. “When I decided I wanted to invest in something, this was by no means my first thought,” she says.
“It occurred to me that niche businesses do better since competition isn’t as fierce, and a few years ago I did a lot of research counting heads and speaking to people about what they liked and what they didn’t. And I decided this seems to be the business to be in.”
Few changes are being made to Club Toronto’s existing fixtures.
“It’s more of a fixer-upper than any real changes,” says Johnson. “Floors, walls, electrical, new furniture. Outside where the pool is, what was originally a laundry room we decided to convert into a cabana bar that will serve people in the pool.”
Johnson hopes the venue will do better business as a swingers’ club than as another bathhouse, of which there are already several in the area. Straight couples, she says, have far fewer options in the area.
“Wicked [on Queen West] would be one of the closest, I would say, the difference being that it’s only open nights. So we really want to cater to day crowds because there are lots of people who work nights, or they’re tired.”
Club Toronto was open 24/7, but initially Oasis Aqualounge will be open only from late morning, Thursdays through Sundays. “Assuming that goes well, we’ll increase our days,” says Johnson. Eventually, she hopes to make the new club a 24-hour destination again.