Toika is a little gem is nestled on the corner of Richmond Street West and McDougall Lane (closest north south is Spadina). Google Maps currently blurbs it as a "Laid-back small club with DJs and dancing." This is accurate, if not terribly descriptive - it is small, it is cozy and it has at least two sweet projector systems that paint the walls with fun stuff. One bar, but one bar is definitely sufficient.
It also holds a spot in sourced.fm history, as it's the first live music venue that the crew and some of our early (and ardent) supporters went to together. juSt b was spinning this set when we came in and kept it going for the majority of our stay, which was a combo of animated conversations, laughter and dancing.
If you've been here before or played here before, please add your opinion/advice/secrets!
After some minor technical issues, I’m happy to say that I’m finally getting my reply up, only a month late ;)
Firstly - a HUGE thank you to Jordy, Brandon and all their stellar crew for coming out to my first gig at Toika on April 4th. It meant a lot to have you guys there supporting, especially as I only just met you a couple weeks before at a previous gig at Midnight MRKT.
I’d thought I’d take some time to fill you in on a bit of Toika history, seeing as it’s home to so many of my best Toronto music memories of the last few years and thus holds a pretty special place in my heart.
Up to early January of this year, Toika looked and felt like a very different club. It was a super cozy, great little spot, tucked away from the hustle and madness of the regular bar scene. It had an intimacy and charm that attracted the highest calibre of artists and truly appreciative music lovers. And this is what made it one of a few genuine underground clubs remaining in this big city.
For several years, a friend of mine has been throwing parties there on a bi-monthly basis as well as NYE under his brand - ‘bringthebeats’. Awesome people, great vibe, and amazing music! He called the nights “Intimate and Underground” – how very fitting. With a long-standing history in the Toronto scene, he’d developed a strong community of dedicated followers who came out to nearly every party, myself included. In fact, I made regular trips from Ottawa, where I was living up until last fall, to Toronto to support many of my favorite DJs. I can’t tell you how many miles I put on my car in the last few years! But I did so out of great love for the music and the ‘family’ I’d come to know here.
After many successful nights with the likes of top notch guys - Luke Fair, Ricky Ryan, Jody Wisternoff, and Eelke Kleijn, to name a few, it was only last spring when things really started to heat up at Toika, seeing a surge of new energetic fans and causing everyone to take notice. Another promoter, Ozmosis, came on board partnering with bringthebeats on a few parties, bringing in some higher profile, international, very well-respected underground DJ/producers who we’d never imagined would grace the decks at our modest 471 Richmond West. Guy J in October 2012 followed by Henry Saiz in May 2013 set the stage for a new era of parties at Toika Lounge. The explosion of awareness was undeniably exactly what Toika needed to progress and thrive amongst a monstrous city cluttered with horrible mainstream clubs who deem bottle service and dress code their top priority (ick!).
It was only a matter of time that the cozy 600 or so sq foot space with a max capacity of about 150 would outgrow its coziness. And so following the bringthebeats NYE party with Ricky Ryan this past Dec.31st, it was shut down to undergo a major face lift. The petite lounge we all knew and loved was completely transformed in to a darkened, more open dance floor with a grand-scale screen behind the new DJ booth (which previously was on the wall to the right of the current one) and the bar shifted over to where there used to be a chill-out area with sofas. The sound and capacity was improved a lot, although the night I played they had the left rack off so you certainly didn’t get the full experience, nor was it perfectly tweaked (they still have work to do on that). And as for that ATM - that’s new as well...and although ‘convenient’ - $4 is a big burn, no question! So as you know, I’d been travelling to Toronto from Ottawa for years to come to many parties. I finally made the decision last summer that in order to further my passion for the music and for a much needed life change, I had to make the big move and so I did just that, 8 months ago. I’d only learned to dj last spring with my first actual live gig in Sept at a club on College. From that point on, I welcomed any and all opportunities to play and was fortunate to have landed a few little gigs here and there. But from March this year, I started seeing real traction and found myself playing 5 parties in just 1 month. One of those was a local’s night on April 4th at the ‘new’ Toika, opening for my friend Dustin Nantais. It had been my dream, when I started dj-ing, that I would get to play at Toika where I’d shared so many amazing memories. And although it’s changed a lot since then and most of that old crew weren’t in attendance, it was still a bit surreal being up there behind the decks – doing sound check, looking out on that blissful dance floor, and busting out tunes for a small yet wonderful crew of supporters, including once again, you fine sourcedFM folks!
Thank you for being at Toika - thanks for coming to Rasputin this past Saturday for the Clam Slam - and thank U for providing this great forum of music discussion, promotion, and sharing.
Here’s to many a more musical journey!
Toika was a great spot - it's small enough that you can bring a group of friends and own the floor, which is always my preference vs. the clubs you get lost in.
I thought it was a great venue for an intimate experience! Nothing fancy, nice and simple. Sound was good too.
I noticed the ATM fee too! I don't recall having to pay $4 anywhere else I have been to in Toronto (regretfully, I have in other cities). Good thing was, they took my Visa at the bar and I started a tab. :)
I thought it was a pretty sweet place. It is nice and simple, open layout, with a solid sound system. Though I will say that I am a fiend for volume and would be curious to see how that thing rocks when it's cranked 8). I definitely wanna go back and check i out another time when it's more packed with one of the sweet international DJs that are listed to be coming soon.
The biggest downfall I noticed was the $4 ATM fee (never seen one this high in my LIFE!!). Make sure you've got money before you come!