When The Steady Cafe opened in 2014, Keaton Taylor wanted it to be an oasis of Florida-themed warmth in the cold, white north.
But Bloor Street West is going to get just a little bit chillier when The Steady closes its doors at the end of October.
Taylor, who co-founded The Steady with Tyler Watts (who left the venture after just a few months), told Xtra by email that he’s ready to return to his long-time career in design and marketing.
“I hope we’ll be remembered for making folks feel good and feel loved,” he writes. “I hope we’ll be remembered for our sweaty, sexy dance parties, good music and being surrounded by good people and good vibes.”
The venue, which specializes in vegan-friendly brunch on the weekends and queer events in the evening, will be hosting its last parties at the end of October.
The final events being hosted this month highlight the wide variety of events that found a home at The Steady over the years: a mocktail mixer for sober people, a Drake and Rihanna dance party, a queer goth event, a poetry launch, a screening of Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, a hurricane relief fundraiser.
Some of The Steady’s signature parties, like Rave to the Grave or Blood, Sweat and Queers, may still find second lives at other venues, but no definitive plans have been made.
The Steady’s closure is a blow to Toronto’s west-end queer community which is already hurting for venues after the Holy Oak closed down earlier this year. While mainstays like The Beaver and El Convento Rico are still up and running, worries abound that rising rents and building sales will further squeeze out venues, including the few remaining queer spaces.
Despite the pressure, some new venues are still sprouting up. Less Bar, just a few blocks east of The Steady, opened in September, with a focus on queer events that cater to both drinkers and non-drinkers.
Taylor says he wanted The Steady to be a place that catered to queer people without being exclusively queer, a place where the private back room allowed people to let loose and be themselves.
He recalls many special moments working behind the bar, including hosting an end-of-life party for a person’s spouse who lived in the neighbourhood.
“This person wanted a party, not a funeral, and they chose to host with us,” Taylor writes. “I’ll always remember that and I felt very touched by it.”