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Photo: Jesse Milns

Posted by Caroline Leung / October 15, 2012

Play on Queen is the first level of the infamous Wicked. (Second floor is for members only.) If Wicked is Lust in Dante's inferno, Play is perfect as its predecessor, Limbo — seeing as Play is all damnation without actual guilt. One doesn't need to partake, but is still subjected to the cornball, fake-sexy vibe it oozes.

The burly, suited men hissing into their earpieces, over-the-clipboard frowning and velvet ropes struck me as overkill, seeing as it was nearly empty. (Illusion is everything in this business, I suppose.) In light of its ceremonial entrance, the card-carrying members of Model Mayhem bar staff, and the lingerie-wearing blow-up doll by the coat-check, the lukewarm reception wasn't just jarring; it was laughable. The space is stylish in a early 2000s, television New York kind of way; Blair Waldorf would've lost her virginity here back when audiences still cared. Play is big and pristine — its apparent cleanliness I can wholeheartedly endorse — but its all-white minimalism just served to highlight how sterile it was in comparison to the debauchery it promises.

Play does try its hardest to encourage bad behaviour, but not enough. A runway serves as the divide between the 'VIP' section, allowing many a sashay down the catwalk. There are actual swings hanging from the ceiling that's a not-so-subtle reminder to what's going on upstairs. (Play would do well in getting some form of insurance; falling off the thing seems probable for any sober person, let alone a drunk one.)

I take back what I said about Play being an eyesore. Think whatever you like about Wicked: it's still an institution that's long been a part of West Queen West, and ought to be respected for not only surviving, but defining the city's underbelly.

Has Play lived up to the venue's name? Sure, but only in ways that underline the amateurishness of it all. Much like an apartment decorated entirely in IKEA, Play serves more as a child's idea of a grown-up space rather than actually being one. (The furniture giant looks like it could've sponsored the place, actually.) By your typical club's standards, Play falls short due to its sheer genericness. Even its "swingers' paradise" of a neighbour couldn't save it from itself.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this post mistakenly claimed that Play was not affiliated with Wicked, when in fact, it is a rebranded version of the first floor of said club. We apologize for the error and have updated the review accordingly.

Additional Details

Beers on Tap:
Signature Drink:
A sloppily poured vodka cranberry by way of someone silly enough to get bottle service.
Bar Snacks:
Radio-friendly remixes of already radio-friendly hits
Live Music:
Who Goes There:
Bandage dresses and trucker hats
10pm - 2am, Thursdays to Saturdays



Bort / October 15, 2012 at 1:36 PM


Sarah / October 15, 2012 at 2:01 PM

This is the dumbest review I've ever read. My friends and I have been the last two weekends and had a blast. Sick of reading reviews where they just bash a new venue, get your head examined.

Sarah / October 15, 2012 at 2:03 PM

Went there the last two weekends with my girlfriends and had a blast. Sick of reading reviews by some stuck up reviewer bashing new venues. The place looks great and both times I've been the atmosphere was very welcoming. One of my favorite places on queen west.

ashley redding / October 15, 2012 at 2:16 PM

Caroline, Play is fun. It is safe, and has good music.
you need to tone it down with trying to get noticed hunny.
My group of friends hang there, dance floor always full, drinks are priced fair and staff is so friendly.

Josh / October 15, 2012 at 2:19 PM

I see a bunch of dudes, not many ladies. sausage party dude!

Not another Shill / October 15, 2012 at 2:25 PM

Hi Sarah, you forgot to change your name between shilling for this venue.

Warren / October 15, 2012 at 2:26 PM


matt / October 15, 2012 at 2:28 PM

caroline. you write like your one of those people who pool their change together to buy a case of lakeport.

who says trucker hats and bandage dresses?what does that even mean.

Jenn / October 15, 2012 at 2:50 PM

Someone's obviously mad they gets kicked out of all the parties. It's nothing like wicked. Beautiful layout and great atmosphere. Went there for the past couple of weeks and had a great time. I think its time Caroline gets her head out of her ass.

Ed / October 15, 2012 at 3:01 PM

Now that is one mean spirited review. But hilarious "model mayhem" comment

Dave / October 15, 2012 at 3:01 PM

Holy crap the sock puppets are out in force today! Hope all you folks who 'were just there this past weekend' don't have too much invested in this place.

Joey / October 15, 2012 at 3:03 PM

Warren: I think Sarah posted twice because sometimes it takes a while for a comment to appear on the site. I just posted a comment and it isn't displayed.

matt: I think the writer means "douche bags and trashy women who are attracted to douche bags"

Jimmy / October 15, 2012 at 3:10 PM

I've never read a positive club review. Probably because it's a lot easier to write critical things. Not like there's a meal to discuss, the only thing that makes a club experience enjoyable is the experience you have with your friends and members of the opposite sex there. This is just another typical cynical review because one can't sound hip and funny if they're being positive.

Trucker hats??

samantha / October 15, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Another negative review about a club. Maybe be more positive !!!

blogTO your source for reviews that dont really mean much anymore. Hope your top 10's dont go this route.

Cam / October 15, 2012 at 3:21 PM

I know exactly who goes here, and yes, Caroline did mean to write trucker hats, HA.

Mark S / October 15, 2012 at 3:39 PM


What venues do you honestly enjoy going to? You seem to bash almost every club. Trucker hats? Really? I don't see one guy in that picture wearing one. I went 2 Fridays ago and had a blast, and no, no one was wearing a trucker hat. Wristpect was playing and he is by far one of the best DJ's in Toronto. Good music, fair prices, and good crowd.

P / October 15, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Last pic. If it's good enough for Dog it's good enough for me.

Rob / October 15, 2012 at 3:48 PM

Caroline sounds like the type of person that looks down on other people's idea of fun, unless it happens to be playing croquet in Trinity Bellwoods on a summer afternoon whilst wearing something "ironic".

Dave / October 15, 2012 at 3:55 PM

I went by Saturday night for the first time. Was pretty fun, good music fairly priced drinks; exactly what I expected on Queen West. The crowd was good looking--no models or anything like that but at the same time not a bad looking crowd at all. Review is too harsh in my opinion.

SousedBergin / October 15, 2012 at 3:59 PM

Radio-friendly remixes of already radio-friendly hits

Hilarious, very entertaining review. Also found it hilarious that those defending the place sound very insecure. If it was such a great time why would this review cause angst? Methinks the popped collared look-at-me crowd doth protest too much when they should be practicing their preening.

Roberto / October 15, 2012 at 4:04 PM

Sounds like Caroline should go to Wicked and get laid.

Play / October 15, 2012 at 4:06 PM

BlogTO thanks for the review and posting us on your site!
Hopefully the next time you pop in we will be able to change your opinion!!

We may have a few different ideas about your review, but nonetheless we respect it!!

Christine / October 15, 2012 at 4:10 PM

Reminds me of the good old days at the Social. Will come again for sure!

ginger / October 15, 2012 at 4:40 PM

Funny write up, probably came from some staffer that is still taking journalism 101 at ryerson or george brown! When you graduate and get a real job at "Paper mag" or the "Village Post" and finally get it- come back and re-review! You have probably never been to NYC especially when it was great! The 2000's are the past to you lol! Ikea nor king st are part of our vocabulary! Next time limit your vodka cran and spinning on swings as it may blurr your vision!

Thomas / October 15, 2012 at 4:46 PM

Ear pieces and blow up dolls? Funny i never seen em? Vip sections? Never seen em either? I seen a beautiful place with beautiful ppl! Great music, fun and a great addition to Queen west!

Jackie / October 15, 2012 at 5:28 PM

Another tree hugger writing crap. Thats why our city is no longer on the map. Long live Mel lastman and rob ford. We got to get rid of these ppl bringing our city down. You and your boring followers can go to your top10 list that no ones ever heard of. I'm sure trying to bash play will only make the line ups bigger, I for one thinks it's great love it and am glad it's in the tdot!

nothardtounderstand / October 15, 2012 at 5:35 PM
user-pic about the fact CLUBS simply suck.

That is the moral of her review.

Mickey / October 15, 2012 at 6:30 PM

Clubs do suck in Toronto. Great to see this one thinking outside the box. This one is amazing.

Boris Karloff / October 15, 2012 at 7:00 PM

great review.

Buffy / October 15, 2012 at 7:37 PM

Caroline, what's your contribution to Toronto, it's nightlife, or anything? What do you bring to the table?
Do you only drink tap water cut your own hair and drive a battery operated car?

Thomas / October 15, 2012 at 8:31 PM

Social 2.0...hope they bring in some top 100 djs in the world soon

The voice / October 15, 2012 at 10:17 PM

What do u expect from a town that wants jack Astros and milestones at every corner. What do u expect from a town that wants smart centers everywhere! What do u expect from a town that thinks an aquarium and cn tower will drive up tourism! What do u expect when u build condos everywhere with no industry! What do u expect when u have a ritz Carlton trump tower and Thompson that no one goes to! What do u expect from a town that had a NYC club god get tossed out of town! A boring city that's what! Any form of excitement will bring out the haters! Hence the article! Toronto will never be a WORLD class city when all we ever give positive reviews to is "what's the best burger joint in town"! Until then Toronto enjoy your unusable water front and boring nightclubism and restaurant venues! Or better yet build more pubs! I for one seem to be intrigued by bandage dresses and trucker hats! Oh and yes we need a casino on the Ontario place grounds!

doug walter / October 15, 2012 at 11:06 PM

was there this saturday. too many pakees and asian. never again.

Jason / October 16, 2012 at 12:27 AM

Very funny review. The comments from the sock puppets were almost as good.

Devo / October 16, 2012 at 1:10 AM

The owners of Play are entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs benefit from direct and pointed feedback from customers. Not from the nicities of 'in my opinion' and other soft statements. Play now has a perspective to consider, in its most honest form, and can decide to stick to their vision or change their direction. If they are smart (and based in the classy comment below), they are probably happy to have such harsh feedback. Don't get so scared of brutal honesty. It's a good thing. Take it literally, with a grain of salt, or not at all. But don't discourage it. Or we are all doomed to mediocrity.

Maria / October 16, 2012 at 10:04 AM

Honestly I'm a woman and ever other woman I've spoken to love pay. It's gorgeous looks like the Delano hotel in Florida meets a nightclub. Caroline might be the 1st female to knock it.
Very female friendly.

Catherine / October 16, 2012 at 2:06 PM

This place just stands as testament as to why the majority of Toronto nightlife sucks. People consistently settling for mediocrity in defence of a piss poor club that looks like a grown up version of a Barbie playhouse. Great job on the review, Caroline.

james / October 18, 2012 at 1:57 AM

no its not the re branded first floor of wicked. it is a totally different club. ive been to play and wicked and the staff/prices are all different as if the owners are totally different.
although i believe that the wicked owners are still involved somehow, it isnt simply a "rebranding" its just a new club with a new concept and a pretty sweet vibe.

3199884 / January 5, 2013 at 1:42 PM

What a lovely day for a 3199884! SCK was here

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