It’s easy to lose track of the girl parties in the big ol’ sausage fest that is Pride. To address this annual conundrum, here’s a list of this year’s top 12 dance parties geared primarily for queer women.
Thursday, June 16
Women get all jazzed for the upcoming Dyke March with a flirty, glittery party. Presented by Dyke March Toronto and Manifesto Festival (a celebration of hip-hop culture), this annual bash is not only a celebration of the two organizations’ anniversaries — Dyke March is 20 and Manifesto is 10 — but a fundraiser. According to billing for the event, all proceeds go to the dyke, queer, youth and communities of colour that the two organizations serve.
8pm. The Gladstone hotel, 1214 Queen St W. gladstonehotel.com
Wednesday, June 29
A good Pride is one where everything straight is so thoroughly pushed aside that we temporarily forget that things like football or Adam Sandler even exist. To achieve this freeing, immersive feeling, the celebrations can’t be confined to the weekend. Taking place on the back end of hump-day, this party includes DJs Okaay and Mavis spinning house and top 40. It takes place in a charming 3-floor venue (at least 2 of which are open) in the middle of the Village.
10pm. Smith, 553 Church St. girlplaytoronto.com
Thursday, June 30
Butch Femme Salon: Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Butches, femmes, dommes, sharks, machos, bois — everyone can be themselves here. Attracting a crowd of mostly women and trans guys, the Belle Jumelles and Titus Androgynous–hosted event is many-tiered. Early birds enjoy a flirty salon. Then there’s performances. Finally, DJ Johnny B Goode provides the soundtrack for some late-night dancing. A two-event ticket deal is available for this party and a performance of the award-winning play The Elephant Girls, which takes place earlier the same evening.
9pm. Buddies in Bad Times, 12 Alexander St. buddiesinbadtimes.com
Some event titles really get to the heart of the matter. The party has the dirty, sexy atmosphere of, according to billing, a “trashy Vegas strip club, but in a nice way.” It features DJs Ticky Ty and Lucie Tic spinning hip hop, dancehall, R&B, house and tech for a huge room somehow filled wall-to-wall with sexy women. Additionally, one lucky attendee wins two tickets for a lesbian cruise in the Caribbean.
10pm. The Phoenix, 410 Sherbourne St. girlplaytoronto.com
Back to Church
It’s great to see queer women retaking Church Street in a post-Slack’s world. This monthly party was started three years ago in the Village in response to so many girl parties moving to the city’s west end. Taking place in the middle of the action, the Pride edition features DJ duo Kish Delish (that’s KLR and Delicious) spinning hip hop and top 40 for a younger crowd. It includes hip-hop dancers, and a DJ versus drummer battle.
10pm. Church on Church, 504 Church St. For more info, visit Facebook.
Friday, July 1
It’s almost too much. It combines DJs from three popular recurring women’s parties (Cream, Toastr and Back to Church) with a new venue — so new, it can’t even be Googled effectively — on the waterfront. And it’s Pride, and it’s Canada Day. Four DJs spin in two rooms; DJs Sticky Cuts, KLR and Delicious are in the main room, and Foxx Trot runs the back room. The music is hip hop, top 40, house and something called “twerky.”
10pm. City Bar, 11 Polson St. girlplaytoronto.com
Saturday, July 2
Here you can flirt with women all day in the open air — a pleasure formerly reserved for lesbian park rangers. This is one of the events at the Green Space Festival, a series of annual outdoor parties that raise funds for The 519, Toronto’s LGBT community centre. Toronto’s DJ Ticky Ty is joined by LA’s Sandra Collins, Miami’s Alyson Calagna and NYC’s Viviana Toscanini. It’s a popular destination after the Dyke March is over.
1pm. Barbara Hall Park. greenspaceto.org
Lez Get it On
On the day of the Dyke March, one of the outdoor stages becomes a showcase of fierce women in music. All-round entertainer Deb “Kirk” Pearce hosts, and the bash’s massive lineup includes DJs Denise Benson, Cozmic Cat, Nomi Ruiz (Hercules and Love Affair), Fawn BC and Nino Brown. As the sun goes down, artists Witch Prophet and Above Top Secret take over for some hip hop (and beyond). At some point Lauren Hortie does graffiti nearby.
2pm–2am. Bud Light South Stage. pridetoronto.com
Taking a break from the Village, folks head to a historic hotel in the west end for a hot, sweaty party that needs no introduction (but gets one anyway). The fourth annual Pride edition of this recurring shindig sees DJ Sticky Cuts joined by Ottawa’s DJ Stix. It’s all dancehall, hip hop, R&B, tech and house, and then beat boxer Scott Jackson (once featured on Canada’s Got Talent) does things with his impressive mouth.
9:30pm. The Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St W. girlplaytoronto.com
The Village can be fun. But so can waving your ass at it as you make your way somewhere new and interesting. A seeming mainstay of queer women’s nightlife in the city, DJs Denise Benson and Cozmic Cat’s monthly party is reliably wild. While they’re joined by Vancouver’s Kasey Riot in the main room, DJ Recklezz spins in the more intimate room upstairs. Performances include Isabella Hoops doing sexy, fresh hoops and poi.
10pm. Mod Club, 722 College St. facebook.com/cherrybombtoronto
It was a beautiful, sunny (we hope) day spent booty shaking at Lez Get it On or Lipstick Jungle, but the evening is here, and it’s time for a change. Way down south, in the Village’s butt (or ankle, or something), girls start to go a bit crazy with DJs KLR and Annalyze (from NYC). After a few hours of hip hop, dancehall, soca and house, the younger crowd is up on the speakers doing recklessly sexy things.
10pm. Club 120, 120 Church St. facebook.com/creamtoronto
Sunday, July 3
8th Annual Afternoon T-Dance
And then all of a sudden, like geese (or some more elegant bird), the sexy queer women of Pride flap away to distant lands, perhaps never to be seen again — but not before one final party. This cheery, afternoon “so long!” to the year’s celebration is organized by Girl Play — which organizes nearly half of all such events — so we know it’ll be good.
3–9pm. Visit girlplaytoronto.com for more details.