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New bar to open in former George's Play space


New bar to open in former George's Play space

The former Play will soon become Church on Church St, a new bar its owner says will be 'the nicest bar on the strip.' IMAGE 1 OF 1
'Church on Church' will be open for Pride weekend
Less than a month after George’s Play closed suddenly, new tenants have taken up in the space and promise to open a bar in time for Pride weekend, with a grand opening later in the summer.
The new bar, Church on Church St, aims to provide something different by being a community-focused watering hole. Co-owner Andrew Archer says the space will host regular drag king and queen performances, hip-hop nights, and an industry night for the servers and workers in the Church St scene.
Archer says the owners settled on the name “Church” while considering that the old English meaning of the word meant “circle” or “community.”
“We wanted to be a place where people could come together and be a community,” he says. “We’re going to be sensitive to it being a religious word. We’re not looking to make fun of religion at all.”
Still, the bar’s theme and décor will reflect a subtle religious aesthetic, with candle lighting and the use of dark wood and marble materials.
“We discovered these great wood beams when we soundproofed the place,” Archer says.
Soundproofing the bar was a necessary element of renovations, as George Pratt, the owner of Play, said that the landlords were upset that noise from the bar would reach their apartment above the space.
Archer describes an ambitious renovation of the space, which won’t be complete until “late July or early August,” when the bar will officially open. The bar will open for five days during Pride Week on a temporary liquor licence if the licence is approved.
“It’ll be high-end,” he says. “I wouldn’t say luxury, but the nicest bar on the strip.”
The bar will feature a dancefloor area in the back and quieter booth seating in the front, he says.
Archer, 25, has a long resumé in marketing successful businesses, including work with teambuy.ca, a go-karting business, and a fashion label with Project Runway contestant Brandon Dwyer. He says the bar will stand out from others on the strip by offering a beautifully designed space, lots of community involvement, and a spotlight on developing and promoting up-and-coming drag performers and DJs.
“Our Friday night is going to be our drag night, to emphasize the talent around the city -- both established and upcoming talent,” he says. “A lot of [the queens] are treated like second-class entertainers. That’s not what I want to have. I want them to have a proper setup, with a stage, lighting and curtains to complement their talent.”
“I’ve lived in the Village for about six years now,” he says. “Where the real desire comes from is living in the Village and probably going out more than I should. I love the community feel.”
In other community news, rumours continue to circulate that the Village Rainbow may reopen by Pride Week as well. It appears that the family who previously ran the restaurant will be reopening a restaurant in the space under a new name. However, while no one could be reached before press time, construction crews were recently seen inside the building.
Archer says he looked into renting that space but was told there were issues with its liquor licence. A long-standing rumour that Starbucks would be moving into the space was vehemently denied by Starbucks’ manager.
Up the street, the Church St Medical Centre, which has long been under construction, will operate under the somewhat confusing moniker “York Medical Health Centre,” despite it not being located in the former borough of York or in York Region.
While an email to clients who’d preregistered with the medical centre acknowledges that there have been delays to the project, it also says that the centre will be open “no later than September 1.” 
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Quo Vadis Gay Village? part 2/2
Actually the best place for a new gay village is on Gerrard St East
between Carlaw and Greenwood
between the Little India Bazaar and Chinatown East.

There are plenty of low-rent shop fronts in this area
and it can be easily reached 24/7 via the 506 Carlton car from the old Village
and it is located just north of Leslieville and east of Riverdale
and west of the Beaches
which are all already popular with gay and lesbian couples.

Check out the old Maple Leaf Tavern at 955 Gerrard St E
which has been on the market for more than a year looking for new tenants.

This is an old-style pub-hotel
with a common room below and rooms for rent upstairs.

It would be perfect for a new private upscale gay men’s social club
where gay and bi guys could cruise discreetly
and rent the rooms upstairs for a discreet quickie with newly found boyfriends.
Quo Vadis Gay Village? part 1/2
It is so gratifying to see the entire local gay intelligentsia (all five of us!)
taking a constructive interest in this new gay bar
and discussing the general future of the gay village
and without the usual self-aggrieved and self-entitled LGBTQITSetc
orchestra of scorched cats criticizing everything in sight
and demanding their share of everything.

Yes, it is time for the gay village to start thinking about moving to a better venue
but how to do it?

The straight condos are moving in
and Rob Ford & Co will help them along to get all that high-value tax base
and no one can really stop that trend in the long run.

The present gay village has been here for only about 20 years
and its predecessor was a very oppressed little underground gay ghetto
on Yonge north of College
whose residents moved a bit east to Church and Wellesley
as their numbers increased and as an expression of gay pride
and to get away from all the eggs being thrown at them on Yonge St
in the vicinity of the old St Charles Tavern.

However being GLB has actually become somewhat respectable
and also there are apparently 350,000+ GLB people in the GTA
but most of them are still highly closeted ethnic people
for whom there is no accommodation or recognition in the present gay village
and it is time for a bigger new gay village
to accommodate all this new respectability and all this new ethnic energy in town.
Yes and no part 4/4
I can think of a few more ideas for activities to liven things up
and keep the paying customers coming in
but it would help if you could post contact information or an email address
in this space so we could all give you plenty of free advice.

Please understand also that it is pointless to compete with other nearby gay bars for existing customers.

You also really need to start attracting the ethnic non-Anglo crowd
who are mostly still very closeted and who normally do not visit Church St
and increase the total market.

There is no point in opening a new gay bar in the village
if you succeed so well that you put other local gay bars out of business
even if their managers are not quite as smart or progressive
as you obviously are!

Living in good old stodgy Anglo-Toronto is just like living in a cemetery
trying to converse with gravestones
and many of the denizens of the gay village unfortunately also seem to hold
to the Torontonian habit of sleepwalking with their eyes open
and being stoned on Prozac
so please try to attract some of that ethnic energy into the gay village.
Yes and no part 3/4
Yes and no part 3/4

Third, please, please paint the place in nice bright light pastel colors
and make it look like a nice glitzy hair salon full of pretty gay boys!

The old Play was red on black in front and just plain black on black inside
and was much like
a dark dingy dungeon of demented depravity and depressive discouragement
which was a complete turn-off to the bubbly and effervescent optimists
among us with a dozen condoms and lubes in our pockets and purses
wanting to be used!

The former tenants moved their bathhouse without the baths across the street
and there they can stay but you should go for a nicer and brighter look.

We are all so happy that you, alone among Church Street gay-bar owners,
(who are basically crass and tasteless curs of low degree)
plan on treating drag-queens like real queens
and giving us the respect and fees which are our rightful due!

However you cannot expect a gay drag queen to shine in a dark dingy hole
so please give us a brighter setting to complement our natural showiness!

The place should look almost as good as one of Michelle Ross’s gowns!

Perhaps you should get some actual advice from various local drag queens
on décor and layout instead of trying to do it all yourself!
Yes and no part 2/4
Second, pls, pls make that drag stage in the back bigger!

It should stretch right across the entire building width
and project a bit more forward
so the drag queens have some place decent to perform
so Miss Conception can do her amazing cartwheels
without falling off the edge of the stage.

The pathetic little soap box you have there
is just barely big enough for Michelle Ross and Michelle Dubarry
to do their classic lip-synching diva acts
but most of the younger drag queens need to project a lot of energy
with a lot of physical movement to appeal to today’s gay bar flies
and keep them coming back
so they need a wider and longer stage to perform properly.

Move the dj’s booth to the old second bar counter in back
and the rear steps from the downstairs drag-queen dressing room
need to be extended a bit so that the queens can get up on the new stage.

Pls forget about the quiet booths you have planned
and just use nice little round tables on center pedestals with a regular height
about 30 to 36 inches wide with corresponding chairs
with patrons able to sit with their feet on the floors ala Woody’s.

This is a very flexible type of furniture
which you can move around to clear the area in front of the stage
for dance nights.

Pray tell good gay sir, but whatever possessed you to think
that a gay drag bar or any portion thereof is supposed to be quiet?

If we want quiet we visit a cemetery but in a gay bar we need some buzz
and although we do want not ear-splitting sound at 130+ decibels
so we can have lucid conversations without yelling at each other
we do not go to gay bars to hear the pins drop either!

After all, this is not the York Club or the National Club, etc,
where straight silly old farts go to have quiet conversations in hushed tones
about profound matters of great import.

We just want to cruise, party, and get laid
(or at least watch someone else do it if we are too old to get it up anymore)!
Yes and no part 1/4
Darling, you have good intentions and this a good idea
but obviously you are still a callow youth
and your approach will not be sufficient to succeed as much as you would like to
and we all certainly would like to see you succeed big-time!

First, please pick a better name:-
Church on Church is obviously a take-off from Play on Church
and the last thing we want to do on Gay Street is go to Church.

We party and cruise and get laid on Friday and Saturday evenings
and we leave it to other folks pray for our God-forsaken hung-over souls
on Sundays in Church.

A better choice would have been Mollywood
and if you want to see why then just step around the corner
to the statue of Alexander Wood on the northwest corner of Wood and Church
and read the plaque.

AW was a local notable in early Toronto ca 1800 who was also gay
and who actually originally owned much of the land
on which the gay village stands today.

At that time this was a wooded estate on the edge of the wilderness
with a muddy little dirt track in front of it called Yonge St
and the locals homophobically called it Molly’s Wood
because being gay was not exactly fashionable at that time.

A molly was basically an effeminate gay male
or what we would today call a gay queen.

Please do yourself and all of us a really big favor and call it Mollywood
and give it some buzz and excitement
so we do not feel like we are going to Church instead of a gay party!
Something different perhaps
Although I am glad to see that the space is being taken up by a gay business, I have echo Barry's comment in regards to a 'main street' concept. I have often thought, and I know this might sound foolish, that a museum to gay history/culture might be a nice inclusion to Church street. I know it's not the most glamorous or envogue thing to have but given how many of our own don't know much of our history and contributions, it might be just the thing. I have spoken to many younger LGBT's and often find their understanding of our shared history and accomplishments to be lacking. Just my two cents. That said, I hope the bar does well and keeps Church Street our street.
Another bar?
There's constant talk about the Village 'dying' and yet there's little effort by the gay community / BIA to build a sustainable and diverse neighbourhood of businesses, attractive to locals and visitors. While certain business locations almost demand conversion to a bar (and grill) - see Fusion / The Vic and Village Rainbow / Big Johnson's, there's real danger that it will eventually suffer the same fate as downtown's 'Entertainment District' - a ghost town during the day, eventually succumbing to demolition for condos for those not from the neighbourhood.

The Village needs a better 'Main Street' with a range of appealing locally-owned businesses - think more Queen Street at The Beach rather than Richmond Street West.
I give it six months.
This idea has been done, adds nothing whatsoever to the community, and will hemorrhage money until it closes.
Something different by offering the same?
So this places is going to "provide something different by being a community-focused watering hole. Co-owner Andrew Archer says the space will host regular drag king and queen performances, hip hop nights, and an industry night for the servers and workers in the Church St scene."

With any due respect, it just sounds like every other place on the strip with a prettier face. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad the place won't sit vacant but would love to see a single new idea or at least see a night that covers something that is absent from the village.

Regardless, Good luck. I mean that genuinely.


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