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Photo: Jesse Milns

Posted by Jesse Ship / February 12, 2014

Coda is the spiritual successor to the much loved Footwork, one of Toronto's most best-known dance clubs to cater to a demanding, techno loving audience. But with the steady dismantling of the Entertainment District, it only made sense for Joel Smye and Stephan Philion to take their business elsewhere. What they've inherited is the essence of the former Annex Wreckroom. After a careful analysis and number of test runs, they've transformed it into a high caliber night club that properly makes use of the sprawling space.

And it makes a lot of sense. Having been to rock nights, concerts, and DJ shows, I've always felt that the energy was always most efficient when concentrated towards the front stage. Awkward clusters of people dancing in semi-circles just isn't very conducive to a good time. But more about that later.

From what I saw at the John Talabot show when I paid my visit, people were dressed pretty much however they felt comfortable. There were fans in music tees losing their shit to fat bass lines, there were dressy clubber types and suburban spiky hedgehogs on the hunt for a new mate -- and, really, everything in between.

As mentioned, there have been many structural changes to the club proper. The awkward kidney shaped island bar monstrosity that, I guess seemed useful at the time for servicing patrons from all angles yet created awkward dead spaces on the dance floor, has been annihilated. Kidney bar begone!

In its place is a fully cleansed dance floor surrounded with relatively comfortable booths and couches with a main bar towards on the opposite side of the stage. There's even a couch-bench that faces the bar, so you can keep a watchful eye on your date, or your friends in line. There's also another bar tucked away stage right, on a slightly elevated alcove, lined with couches and benches.

Drinks are not exactly cheap, but they don't reach outrageous prices, with beers ranging from $6.50 (domestic) to $7 or $8 (imports, Pilsner tall cans, Guiness, Strongbow). Mixed drinks also start at $6.25 and go upwards from there. Water and flavoured Aquafina bottles are both $4.25. At least you get flavour!

This club was designed to make you lose yourself in the music, and there's a kick ass PK sound system to make sure that happens, making it one of the best in the city at the moment. Built around the far side of the dance floor is an elevated corridor with bar stools that gives you a perched area for all your stalky inclinations.

If you're going to be dancing with someone that was not the person you arrived with, you had best be selective about your location, like that dusky area by the front bar; it's pretty much lights out over there.

It's not just the conveniently arranged seating, but also the intelligent ceiling lighting that leads to voyeurism where you least expect it. Like when you're minding your own business on the dance floor and all of a sudden the lights go into UFO-landing-strip-meets-carnival-mode, and you become very aware that you might be the most semi-sober person in a 20 foot radius.

During a trip to the washroom, the dude in the urinal next to me yells "let's get a cheer for being fucked up." "Not me, I'm sober as a judge," says the guy to my left. I decide he's lying. Who in their right mind would actually use that expression, and be caught in a place like this? Something's up, but that's none of my business.

With the massive Footwork fan base and convenient Bloor and Bathurst location, Coda fits right in with the mess of bars in a neighbourhood underserved by clubs. And while it's unlikely that there will be much spillover from, say, The Brunswick House, there will no doubt be enough foot traffic queuing up to see what all the fuss is about.

Additional Details

Beers on Tap:
Bottles only
Signature Drink:
Premium Cigarettes $7.50 (that's a drink, right?)
Bar Snacks:
Techno, House, Tech-house, and everything in between
Live Music:
Who Goes There:
Resident Advisor fan boys, electronic music lovers, night owls, people looking for a good
Friday-Saturday 10 pm - 5 am



Chip / February 12, 2014 at 8:41 AM

...and the crown of suburban kids destination was at long last fully passed north from its humble former kingdom in the district to its new home - the Annex.

Frank / February 12, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Great review. I was at Talabot and art dept. New favourite spot.

Nick / February 12, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Shouldn't a glass of water be free?
I understand that they charge for water at raves because thats where they get most of their bar profit but at a club like this?

Jeff Button / February 12, 2014 at 11:49 AM

Nice review, and sweet pics! Talabot night was off the hook. I'll post my set from the night here when it becomes available :)

Matt / February 12, 2014 at 11:52 AM

They give you a glass of ice that you have to fill up yourself. Not the worst thing in the world.

Also Nick / February 12, 2014 at 12:01 PM

@Nick: It's served in bottles, that's why it's not free. Glasses would be a disaster. Also, not sure how often you went to FW but it's similar to the "rave" scene that you're thinking of. Additionally, with everyone hopefully dancing for hours on end they're going to need water to rehydrate. I think Guv is somewhere around $6 so $4.25 is a steal! ha Nothing is free.

Cyril Sneer / February 12, 2014 at 1:07 PM

Yay finally a review of this place. Looks interesting, though surprised how much higher their cover prices are than Hoxton and Wrongbar.

makeready / February 12, 2014 at 1:12 PM

do they stay open till 6AM like footwork used to?

es / February 12, 2014 at 3:55 PM

When I've been there, they've had jugs of iced water that you could pour yourself for free. Typically prefer getting/paying for the bottle myself though - tend to cap it and shove it into my back pocket for hands-free dancing.

Been there a few times (a few before the grand opening, a few times after). I really like the space and I've had a good time. Sound is good, crowd has generally been pretty good. On their busier nights they need to sort out the lineup situation to be a little less chaotic - but still a big improvement over the old location.

Having seen other clubs like Boa pretty much flop after trying to relocate - I think Coda is off to a very strong start, and will carry on the legacy of Footwork rather nicely.

Chris In replying to a comment from Nick / February 12, 2014 at 9:15 PM

The bottles of water cost money, I think they may still give you a cup of water for free

chris In replying to a comment from makeready / February 12, 2014 at 9:17 PM

No, it's open till 5AM like FW used to

Graeme Quinn / February 12, 2014 at 9:55 PM

"I've always felt that the energy was always most efficient when concentrated towards the front stage. Awkward clusters of people dancing in semi-circles just isn't very conducive to a good time."

I completely disagree. DJ idolatry is what is killing the scene. Faces glued to the DJ booth like flies on a lamp, with camera phones up in the air do not make for a good vibe.

Sam Smith / February 13, 2014 at 12:51 AM

Isn't it illegal to serve beer or drinks after 2am? Hmmm... This is just an after hrs club waiting to get shut down.....

Jeff Button / February 13, 2014 at 10:00 AM

@ Sam Smith - last call is 2am like everywhere else, but the club stays open until 5am.

Sean B In replying to a comment from Sam Smith / February 13, 2014 at 12:42 PM

Who said they are serving after 2AM? Footwork never did that.

Sean B In replying to a comment from Sam Smith / February 13, 2014 at 12:45 PM

Who said they are serving past 2AM? Footwork never did that. Just because they are open doesn't mean they are serving. Most people go out to listen to good music and dance!

guy / February 13, 2014 at 1:30 PM

@ sam .. who said they serve after 2?

mike in parkdale / February 13, 2014 at 2:21 PM

while the club district has effectively been dismantled.... Footwork wasn't ever really in the core of it.

However, the immediate vicinity around the old footwork spot is more clubby than ever. With Everleigh, Union, the expanded 2Cats, Cobra etc just a few blocks away, they were actually in the heart of it.

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