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Church on Church

Photo: Jesse Milns

Posted by Martha Stortz / December 12, 2012

Church on Church is a bar located in the Village, filling the space where George's Play was previously situated. The concept of a church-themed gay bar is a unique, inspired idea (not to mention the great acronym the name creates). For us Irish-Catholics, it's like having your spouse get hired at your job - suddenly, elements from the two places you frequent most collide, and you're not sure if it's terrible or amazing. Church on Church is most definitely the latter.

I recently visited Church on Church on a Friday night around 9:30 pm. The cavernous space is empty in the middle with white pew-like benches distributed around the perimeter, likely representing the Great Schism between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church (or possibly for dancing).

Church on Church has a cocktail list with drinks inspired by their theme. I opted for the Blue Moon Rising. (I was tempted to try the Eucharist, but am currently working out my own belief in transubstantiation and chose to refrain.)

I was initially at a loss as to how the name Blue Moon Rising was a reference to church, especially among other names like St Francis and Forbidden Fruit. Was it some sort of allusion to the best parts of the Bible (featuring rape and pillaging) that we always seemed to skip over in Catechism class? Possibly a foreshadowing of the future of churches and religion in this Brave New World?

After a few moments of pondering, I realized that Blue Moon Rising is an anagram for Blooming Urines, a clever reference to the fact that being in church always makes one's bladder inexplicably full despite the several times your mother asks you if you have to use the bathroom at Swiss Chalet while you hiss "Mom, I'm a grown-ass ADULT! I can monitor my own digestive system, for Chrissake!"

The Blue Moon Rising, prepared by a very handsome and very polite bartender, was simple and delicious, sweet with a bit of a bite. The $12 cocktails are on the pricey side, but with two to three ounces of delicious, delicious booze, they are well worth the price.

Similar to religious friends, it was so saccharine I could only have one before I was a little sick of the syrupy taste. Unfortunately, the bartender informed me that the cocktail list is only available until around 10 pm. I asked him to just make me something delicious and he served me a vodka-based cocktail with various other dashes of liquor. This mystery cocktail was good but also very sweet.

It should be noted that while I was speaking with the bartender, a drunken patron approached the bar and interrupted me, trying to strike up a conversation with the bartender. He gracefully asked the patron to wait for a moment rather than ignoring him or ditching me for the obviously more attractive customer. It was great to see such pleasant and graceful staff. (Full disclosure: the drunken patron was my companion. He drank beer and otherwise contributed nothing to this review.)

Further into the night, Church on Church started to fill with people. It was a beautiful scene: People were coming together, from diverse backgrounds and various walks of life, the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, to listen to the word of people we all believed in: DJ Delicious and DJ L Rock. The DJs were great, spinning music that made me want to move like that boy in Matthew 17: 14-18 before Jesus cures him of his demons.

Without question, I would return to Church on Church. Church on Church thrives where other similar bars have failed (see: Synagogue on Spadina) due to the execution of the theme, the great service and the fun atmosphere. Amen.

Writing by Martha Stortz

Additional Details

Beers on Tap:
Stella, Keith’s, Blue and Bud Light
Signature Drink:
Anything from the Holy Water Cocktail List
Bar Snacks:
sliders, charcuterie plate
Patio:
No
Music/Genre:
DJ beatz
Live Music:
No
Who Goes There:
Anyone who has drunk-sobbed while wailing “I just want to dance!”, anyone who has ever had Grindr crash from excessive use.
Hours:
4pm- 2 am Wednesday to Sunday

Discussion

21 Comments

Mike / December 12, 2012 at 7:44 PM
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AWFUL MUSIC!!!

Dave / December 12, 2012 at 8:46 PM
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Awful service.
I asked for a pint of beer and was given a pint glass that was more than half filled with head. I asked nicely if he could fill it up with beer and not head, looked me in the eye, and then turned away to take someone else's order.

Certainly lost my patronage.

Allan / December 13, 2012 at 12:08 AM
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I disagree with the other commenters -
The music is great, the service is amazing!
Earlier in the evening it was nice to sit and enjoy a few drinks with friends, but the party really started after 11.30 - also, they make a great dirty martini and the scotch selection is clean and simple - Macallan's and Bushmills, to start.
A very welcome addition to the Church strip!

Erica M. / December 13, 2012 at 12:54 AM
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People who are just rude people to begin with are always the first to make negative comments. This place is actually worth checking out. Great music, and crowd of people.

Johnny / December 13, 2012 at 3:53 AM
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About the services,i can't say anything,because the
music was really bad and i couldn't stay more then 30 minutes...
It's so sad!
Should be a really good new place, " dancefloor " in Toronto.

moony / December 13, 2012 at 9:27 AM
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I disagree with the haters here. I've been here a few times, and can say that it's refreshing to have something different on Church St.

Music is great, when it's not some Prism (Prizm? whatever) party that spins circuit music. Azealia Banks and Die Antwoord are not records I would expect a Church St. bar/club to play!

Service is great too. Never had a problem getting drinks or experienced rude staff, although the drinks are pretty watered down (like everywhere else). The coat check girl is super-cool.

I think the real problem is the clientele -- it's still the same crowd in the village. The bar seems to be targeting the Queen West/East types; the ones that don't spend every waking moment ogling passersby's from a stoop on Church St.

Whether or not that strategy wlll work... time will tell, but this is definitely a step in the right direction to 'upgrade' the village to a more mature scene (like Montreal's).

Gourmet Chaplain / December 13, 2012 at 10:05 AM
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Not many of my religious friends are saccharine. (Au contraire -- they are preaching the gospel at all times and, if necessary, using words.) But too-sweet drinks are definitely a sin.

J / December 13, 2012 at 1:40 PM
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Gotta love all the comments by a single pissed-off music promoter/DJ/owner of another club. Way to make it obvious, Steve-Kevin-Michael-Jonny-Matt-Alex-Nick-Mike-whatever-your-name-is.

CHURCH In replying to a comment from Dave / December 13, 2012 at 2:05 PM
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Hi Dave,

Very sorry to hear that. I'll be sure to mention this to the staff, hopefully you'll give CHURCH another try. If you happen to remember the bartender pls let me know.

Sincerely,
CHURCH

CHURCH / December 13, 2012 at 2:06 PM
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Hi Nic,

Thank you for the suggestions in promoters/DJs. Hope you have a great weekend.

Sincerely,
CHURCH

CHURCH / December 13, 2012 at 2:09 PM
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Hi Michael,

I'll definitely check them out. :) Some of the others we're featuring in Dec/Jan include DJ Alessandro, Delicious who brings in DJs from Queen West, a new party called JOCKSTRAP from the guys who bring you FIT. Lots more to come!

Hope you have a great holiday season.

Cheers,
CHURCH

CHURCH In replying to a comment from moony / December 13, 2012 at 2:10 PM
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Thank you so much Moony! Glad you're enjoying the space, we're definitely getting our feet wet and settling in. Lots to grow and develop.

Sincerely,
CHURCH

Puh-leeze In replying to a comment from moony / December 13, 2012 at 4:58 PM
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'Something different on Church St'?! Bahahahahahahaha!!!!

Kumar OMalley / December 13, 2012 at 5:04 PM
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I live nearby and Church on Church is a great concept, with great execution. Dear editors: Please remove the obvious troll commenting under different names. You know, the one who posts minutes apart and can barely speak English? Please and thank you.

bunny / December 13, 2012 at 6:32 PM
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Seriously, if the same person is going to spam a review with bad comments, at least go to the trouble of not writing in the EXACT SAME STYLE in EVERY MESSAGE.

JACK / December 13, 2012 at 7:34 PM
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It's no the same person bunny… comments are comments,…
I feel sad about it… and CHURCH ON CHURCH you are so kind in your feedback…
I hope you do something for change… then we will see if the problems is all about the music…right?

JACK / December 13, 2012 at 7:40 PM
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One tip…
Check out all the djs mentioned above and some more local djs on facebook /wesites /soundcloud .
Maybe that can help you.

A In replying to a comment from JACK / December 13, 2012 at 10:22 PM
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JACK, Nik/Mike/Kevin enough already! You are clearly a sick troll as well as a liar.
That said, my only complaint with Church is the place is too loud. Otherwise, a good addition to the village.

Andrew / December 14, 2012 at 3:58 AM
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To a comment from A
Who you think you are?
Leave the people alone.
SHUT UP !!!!
OMG

Lex / June 24, 2013 at 5:16 PM
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FINALLY!! FINALLY!! A clean, fun, well designed bar in the village!
1) Was not packed so one could ACTUALLY move around!
2) Hottest bar tender, with the most beautiful smile hehe
3) Nice decor, unlike everything else that's super trashy in our infamous village!
4) THE MUSIC WAS AWESOME! No over played, annoying Rihanna and other pop stuff that everyone is soooo tired!
5) Located right in the middle of the village!
6) Very friendly staff!!

SUGGESTIONS:
GO GO BOYS!!!

Brayden / August 30, 2013 at 2:27 PM
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I have no real review of this establishment, but of a fact written in this review. The notion of a church themed gay bar being a first is incredibly inaccurate. One of the best know gay-bars is The Abbey, who executed this theme flawlessly, and well before Church on Church opened. Not to mention the now defunct Limelight, which is also played up the religious themes.

It might be unique to Toronto, but it's hardly unique.

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