Baltic Avenue is, undeniably, a club at Bloor and Ossington: Lights flash, laser beams stab my eyeballs, and the sounds of Icona Pop's "I don't care" greet me as I climb the stairs to the venue. But once I enter the space, the vibe is much more like a dance party in a DJ friend's living room.
It's around 1 a.m. on a Saturday, and this particular night, Baltic is throwing a beach party: free entry for anyone who brings sunscreen, shades, inflatable pool toys, etc., the club's Facebook page proclaims. My first impression as I walk in is that it feels like distinctly the opposite of a beach party. But here I am, wearing my sunglasses at night, scoping the place out. It's in my hood, which is clearly not club land, though there are quite a few bars sprinkled along the stretch.
Rather than attracting douchey fratboys, the beach party theme actually brought in a bunch of silly people in their late 20s and early 30s, which is a welcome surprise. The music is better than expected, too, with some old school Kanye making an appearance. The DJ pauses for a little audience participation, and everyone faithfully chimes in "We want prenup!" I like these people.
I ask the pixieish women working the bar whether they have a signature drink, something that sums up the bar's personality. They look properly confused, and tell me, if there were an answer to that question, it would be PBR and Jager. I tell them to just make me their best whisky-based cocktail.
They come up with a whiskey-soda, and, weirdly, it turns out to be just what I wanted. It's an honest, refreshing choice for a hot summer night, and absolutely no skimping on the whiskey. It comes off as a double, and costs all of $7. Though simple, then, I have no real complaints on the drinks front. No one in their right mind goes to a club for an artful cocktail, anyway.
The best thing about this club, though, is that it's totally unpretentious. The staff are friendly without being annoying, dudes bop around awkwardly clutching PBR cans and sporting inflatable toys on their heads, and a few couples get sexy on the dance floor. I would actually recommend this place to go dancing with friends if you're in the mood to be a bit more low-key take over some of the bar with your crew (it's not very busy on this particular night, despite having been open for about two months).
Owner Gary Rideout, who also owns Comedy Bar , says he wants the venue to have constant events going on, like burlesque shows, live music, and, of course, comedy, as well as the DJ scene.
As I take my leave into the night, just a little bit tipsier following the righteous whiskey soda, "No Scrubs" busts out. This place has just the right throwback bombs. While it's not the city's next hot spot by any means, it could be a good spot for a random fun night if you're in the area.