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Music

The End of the Big Bop

Posted by Rick McGinnis / January 28, 2010

The Big BopIt's likely many of the people who'll lament the passing of The Big Bop - the Queen and Bathurst club that was Toronto's home to metal, hardcore and other music with a notable underage following - are the sorts of people whose opinion isn't usually sought. Many of them can't vote, don't buy much, and certainly won't be among the clientele for the new tenants rumoured to be taking over the space - an American home furnishings chain that specializes in the loft market.

With the passing of the Bop and its three stages - Kathedral, the Reverb and Holy Joe's, in descending order of size - one of the last obstacles to the gentrification of the intersection, long considered a tough nut for developers, will disappear, but due to the club's customers and reputation, the reaction has been surprisingly muted. Dominic Tassielli was the owner of the Big Bop until three years ago, and the manager since then, on a lease renewed monthly, and during his decade and a half running the place, he saw it host everything from grizzled punk veterans like the Dayglo Abortions and the Cro-Mags to the nascent versions of bands like Billy Talent, Alexisonfire and At The Drive In.

The Holiday TavernLooking back, Tassielli says that there's no particular show that he remembers as fondly as the response he's gotten from a core group of customers he didn't know existed. "For the last two months that we were closing, I've been getting so many kids coming up to me and thanking me for the last 10, 12, 14 years that I've given them a venue where they could come and have fun. There aren't that many all-ages clubs, and I never thought we had a regular clientele, that we had a live venue and people just came for shows, but there were kids who came here maybe 30 times a year."

"It didn't matter what show - coming here and just having a good time. And I think seeing a lot of these bands that have made it - 14 years ago they might not have had a stage to play on, and who knows if they would have kept up with the music. Now they've moved on to bigger and better things, and who knows if they stuck to music because they played here maybe five or ten times a year."

the ReverbWhoever the new owners are - and the leading rumour favours CB2, Crate & Barrel's "urban" subsidiary - they won't be starting from scratch with a new building. The building that's housed the Big Bop since the mid-80s is heritage landmarked, though it's hard to tell from its scabby, purple-painted exterior or the scuzzy, well-worn space inside.

It was the mid-80s when the Ballinger brothers, Lon, Stephen and Douglas, took over the Holiday Tavern, a down-at-heels nightclub whose scuffed retro decor had gone from stage shows featuring jazz and R&B acts to mid-day drinkers and end-of-career strippers, and a final gasp of life booking new wave acts like Gene Loves Jezebel and a weekend residency with the Shuffle Demons.

They gave it the winsome name it sported until this weekend, and a garish makeover that splashed new wave graphics in neon colours all over the the old tavern, which Tassielli painted over in the mid-90s with the assertive purple hue for which its underage clientele would know it. It was a dance club under the Ballingers' management, but turned to live music after they left for New York to make their reputation with premiere event space Webster Hall.

The Occidental HallBefore all of that, however, it was a Masonic lodge whose false domed ceiling can just be glimpsed over Reverb's dance floor. Called the Occidental Hall, it lost its top two stories and a magnificent mansard roof in 1948 when the Holiday was opened, decapitating a roofline that met its looming neighbour to the east, the recently redeveloped Burroughes Building. In an article in NOW magazine, Toronto architectural historian Alec Keefer called it a "desecration," and one that was only magnified by the massive 2008 fire that leveled most of the wood-framed block of buildings further to the east.

Three scenes from the closing weekend at The Big BopTassielli says that the landlord is committed to putting $3 million into a renovation of the building, which will make it "quite the landmark," and workmen currently gutting the basement say that they'll start work on the rest of the place on Sunday, just hours after the last band plays its last note.

Discussion

80 Comments

awesome-o / January 28, 2010 at 09:37 am
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good!
Alison / January 28, 2010 at 09:54 am
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You know, it's kinda sad. I haven't really gone there much recently, and I mean, sure a lot of gross "street" kids (who looked like they likely went home to their parents in the suburbs every night) used to hang out outside etc. But I saw a lot of good bands at both the Kathedral and the Reverb, and my husband has played both stages with pretty well every band he's been in. So I can't say I'm not a little sad to see it go.
dnr / January 28, 2010 at 10:01 am
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See Ya Big Bop. You were a joke and a blight on the landscape when you came in the 80's. Hated you then, hate you now. Bye bye.
Christopher / January 28, 2010 at 10:12 am
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That's too bad.
I had some good times there, at some parties thrown by Sunshine Wayne.
Always loved wandering through the warren of rooms, never knowing where I would find myself, or who I would bump into.
Still, as long as the building is being loving restored, as opposed to what happened where the IT night club was simply torn down, I suppose it's just a sign of the times.
The Great Hall further down on Queen West can always serve as the new party spot, if people wish.
Jason / January 28, 2010 at 10:16 am
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Can't say I'm sad to see it go based on its last few years in existence, but I saw some great hip-hop shows there during the late 90s/early 2000s.
Simba / January 28, 2010 at 10:25 am
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Its seriously a scary looking building.
I have no idea how it still has "heritage landmark" status.
clam / January 28, 2010 at 10:32 am
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Hopefully the next thing in the building is better. The biggest "obstacle to gentrification," however, is clearly the northwest corner of the intersection, where just the other day a squeegee guy with his face covered in blood spat at me. In fact, someone should just gentrify THAT GUY.
j-rock / January 28, 2010 at 10:45 am
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I see a few of the usual haters are out today. I never went there once and think it looks pretty hideous from the outside, but I've had places I love close down before, and I know what that's like. Why can't anyone appreciate the fact that it filled a hole in the entertainment landscape and gave kids a place to go to watch bands and have fun? Just leave it at that. Why the snide remarks?
LJ replying to a comment from dnr / January 28, 2010 at 11:05 am
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thanks for contributing absolutely nothing to this article dnr, truth is, its an ugly building, but many bands played there and ive always had a good time here, sad to see it go, but so be it.
M. replying to a comment from clam / January 28, 2010 at 11:05 am
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I'm with clam: the St Christopher's on the NW corner of that intersection is likely the biggest obstacle to gentrification, as it is fulla sketchy characters. The Big Bop was fine in comparison, despite some gutterpunk kids that would hang around -- they were harmless.

I never hung out on any of the floors much, but it's kind of sad that it's turning into a condo furniture store. (Do we need another lifestyle store?) Still, I can't wait to see what they do with the restoration; the building has 'great bones' and I'm glad it's a heritage site. Too bad they lopped off the top a while back, though!
grimmx replying to a comment from j-rock / January 28, 2010 at 11:09 am
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They haven't had their Starbucks© yet, so they are being snide and cranky
KL / January 28, 2010 at 11:34 am
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How can anyone shit on an all-ages venue like that? Don't people realize that this is still a significant blow to indie music in Toronto?
gabe replying to a comment from KL / January 28, 2010 at 11:52 am
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I don't think its that big of a hit to indie music in Toronto. They haven't done much in the past 5 years or so.

If its such a big hit, this is a great opportunity for someone else to fill the void, Do IT, DO it Do it!!!1
BD / January 28, 2010 at 12:19 pm
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The truth is, even though some of you are knocking the place and the clientele.. this was a place that has meant something to many people over the years. Both giving a decent sized venue for kids to go see local and touring bands play, and for local bands to have a decent sized venue to play at for all ages crowds. Now you may not get that, and you may think the venue is shit, and the kids going there are just a bunch of gutterpunk kids, but the fact remains it was a place for kids to go and safely have a good time (how often have you heard of assaults, stabbings, shootings happening around that venue in comparison to the entertainment district, which i bet you would consider classier establishments and clientele). This venue has been host to many different genres of music and many different types of people, always with an open door, and save for a fight here or there, kids getting drunk here and there... really not that much trouble.

The bigger picture as someone else mention is that it puts a serious blow on mid sized venues in this city for all ages shows. Now you may not give a shit about that, but I can guarantee you that there has been many local bands and touring bands, and music fans (of many different genres) that have made their way through that venue over the years (and maybe even some you like) and are fully aware of how this is going to affect the local music scene considerably for playing to all ages audiences. There is still going to be many 19+ venues to play at... but now options for All Ages shows is significantly lower.... and that is the key thing some of you are missing... ALL AGES shows at a mid sized venue... local bands booking out the Opera House is really not viable, its too big.... so what else is there right now?

And if you still don't get it, why don't you go by the Kathedral tonight, where you will have 5 local bands, made up of people that have been playing and supporting the venue and all ages shows for the last 12+ years, featuring Matadors, Heatskores (reunion show), and TerrorChargers (members of the 3Tards)... who will be putting on a FREE show because they understand how much the venue has given them over the years... on Facebook alone there has been over 1100 people saying they are wanting to go to the show and support the venue one last time (and this is for a venue which holds about 350-400)... that right there is pretty obvious that people do care. Maybe it will open your minds a little... my guess though is that it still wouldn't.
Ratpick / January 28, 2010 at 12:23 pm
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Spent my 20s living within puke-splash distance of this place, saw everyone from Princess Superstar to Danielson Familie to Bob Log III in there. I even remember the time that arsehole opened fire at the doorway and killed somebody for no reason.

Moved away long ago, but I always got a kick out of the goth and metal kids still at it, several nights a week.

Its re-assignment to selling condo furniture better suits the kind of people who live downtown nowadays. Angry youths don't come here anymore.


matt / January 28, 2010 at 12:26 pm
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I’m sad to see it go. Saw some really great bands there over the year. One of the most fun shows I’ve ever been to was the first time I saw the Planet Smashers at the reverb. I’ll always remember that one.
jennifer / January 28, 2010 at 12:39 pm
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It would be so great if they could re-create the roof. It used to be such a beautiful building!
Colin in Toronto / January 28, 2010 at 12:51 pm
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BigBop? Nah, the bands I really wanted to see always played somewhere else. I'm surprised how many readers here didn't like it tho. From what I hear it's not like they tried to be any more than a hole in the wall.

I'd be curious to see what they do, as architecture aside, anything new in that space have SOME nod to the previous incarnation.
Colin in Toronto replying to a comment from clam / January 28, 2010 at 12:52 pm
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"where just the other day a squeegee guy with his face covered in blood spat at me" - nice. I'm trying to think of a positive side of that, and honestly...stumped!
Cue Violins / January 28, 2010 at 01:17 pm
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Aw, the one and only time I sang in public - on stage - was here. Memories.
MrsPotato / January 28, 2010 at 01:25 pm
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thank f-in god!

that place is such a shit hole, and attracts the same.
MrsPotato replying to a comment from j-rock / January 28, 2010 at 01:27 pm
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you've obviously never been IN the venue!
pk / January 28, 2010 at 01:33 pm
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a hit to indie music? good. love indie music, but maybe the shitty kids who throw even shittier bands together will break up from not having anywhere to play and save society of their garbage. The good bands will still find a place to play

Put the Roof Back / January 28, 2010 at 01:42 pm
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I can't believe they took the roof off. I wonder for what purpose? I hope whoever takes it over strongly considers putting it back on.
scum / January 28, 2010 at 01:44 pm
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The best are the homeless who loiter around that corner.
Can someone answer me this...
These people are bums/homeless/degenerates....yet they manage to own dogs?
These people can barely feed themselves with the chump change they have managed to bug people to give them, so where exactly do they get the money to pay for dog food/vet bills/etc??

Knowing their money goes to booze and drugs it appalls me these people are allowed have dogs.

Such a waste.
oh / January 28, 2010 at 01:58 pm
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I see the stuck up little TB pricks have showed up hating everything. man i spent my youth in that place, gonna miss it :(
LM replying to a comment from scum / January 28, 2010 at 02:02 pm
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Oftentimes the street folks pick up dogs that have been abandoned/strays, that's how. Plenty of those in this city.
Morga / January 28, 2010 at 02:04 pm
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Although I am not part of this scene, I did enjoy people watching in this area. When there was a large crowd waiting outside I loved checking out their style and appreciated that Toronto/queen street had so much diversity even in it's white people. Although its not my thing I don't judge and appreciate people who would enter a place like this to have fun. Furniture shopping is not nearly as fun.
Mut / January 28, 2010 at 02:46 pm
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Some rich people spend their money on booze and drugs, why can't a poor person do the same? And like someone said, most street kids 'adopt' strays.
B-Rad / January 28, 2010 at 02:47 pm
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I went there once in 1993 and that was enough. But, a shame it's going (and a greater shame given what it's being replaced with).

"Toronto the Bland" indeed.
apetimberlake / January 28, 2010 at 02:49 pm
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GROSS!
PeterBrady / January 28, 2010 at 02:54 pm
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I remember playing here a few times in my younger days. One show, mid way through our set an elderly couple came in, ordered a drink and proceeded to watch all the metal/alternative bands playing that night. I still get a chuckle when I recall us all on stage looking at each other thinking "What the hell? Did one of you invite your grandparents?" I have to admit, I’m now one of the very same “condo dwellers” that’s forcing places like this out of city to make way for yet another condo living themed furniture store.
Stu / January 28, 2010 at 02:55 pm
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Going going gone...

1989 the number, another summer
Sound of the funky drummer
allah replying to a comment from LM / January 28, 2010 at 02:56 pm
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Sure... LM...

Toronto is just littered with wild dogs....

Very similar to Eastern Romania in that way...

Stupid Gypsy.
tpain / January 28, 2010 at 03:04 pm
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i'm sorry, but losing 3 stages to a loft furniture space is depressing. i'm not saying the big bop was IMPORTANT per se, but honestly- loft furniture? between this and cameron house, i have zero reasons left to hit queen east of manning.
?? replying to a comment from tpain / January 28, 2010 at 03:06 pm
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Was there really ever a reason?
Unless you liked textile and fabric stores.
X-Bopper / January 28, 2010 at 03:41 pm
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Spent a lot of cold winter nights lining up to get into (and get drunk at XD) the 'Bop' during the late 80s - 2 floors of music (dance & rock); top floor had a bunch of little rooms with chairs & couches scattered around. Thanks for the memories but I guess we all move on...
Craig / January 28, 2010 at 03:57 pm
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I couldn't be happier that Big Bop is going. Quite frankly, it attracted nothing but trouble. I've lost count of the number of times I used to walk by the Big Bop only to see street kids fighting out front Big Bop, or going to the washroom on the sidewalk, or just doing drugs (and I'm not talking pot, I'm talking needles, coke, etc).

Good Riddance. It's a shame that a music venue is going, but I think the Big Bop brought more bad than good.

Rachel / January 28, 2010 at 04:18 pm
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everything must come to an end but I will miss my all-ages days.
hendy / January 28, 2010 at 04:19 pm
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Insignificant venue for insignificant people. I shed no tears.
Call me when the public libraries start closing down.
Michael / January 28, 2010 at 04:25 pm
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I heard somewhere else that the owner is considering opening another all-ages club called "The Rock Pile." Please god, no! In case you aren't aware, The Rock Pile was a legendary late 60's Toronto bar where many of the bands of that era played, including Led Zeppelin.

http://www.ledzeppelin.com/show/february-2-1969
Joe Smith / January 28, 2010 at 04:44 pm
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afgsdfdfsfgdsf
UrbanDweller / January 28, 2010 at 08:32 pm
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You know what sucks it the morons and idiots that think the loss of any venue for live acts in Toronto is a good thing in anyway. I am nearing 50 and have had a ton of fun at the place, the punk kids are my kids who two now attend university (youngest is no where old enough to yet) and I see fools still base so much on looks, it was a great place for all ages. I been to every club in Toronto to photograph bands for over 30 years and its sad they are killing one of the few last all ages clubs around. To those who are glad to see it go, well sure your just assholes most of the time anyway, it is unfortunate to see it go. I will be there for closing night, as I was for many clubs one of the most memorable was the last night of the Warwick which was another horrible decision by the city to let that landmark b torn down. Toronto has become gentrified by arrogant asses, some of us well off older people still have fun and the loss of the Big Bop is not a good thing, just one less place for all bands to play to all ages. Getting older in Toronto seems to be you become a jerk and intolerant fool, but some of us still think kids need places to have fun and some of still like to have fun.
bubba / January 28, 2010 at 08:53 pm
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it is sad to see it go, it was the first club i ever went to when I was a teenager way way back in the 80's.
Adam Sobolak / January 28, 2010 at 09:09 pm
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If you're wondering why they removed the roof, let's get real: 60 years ago, it would have been regarded as a Victorian eyesore, no loss. And remember that it already underwent a fake-stone facade disfigurement long before the Ballingers arrived on the scene. So, paint jobs aside, the fundamental crimes-against-heritage were a pre-Big-Bop fait accompli--when all is said and done, re whatever remains, the proprietors have left well enough alone over the last quarter century, considering...
Adam Sobolak / January 28, 2010 at 09:10 pm
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If you're wondering why they removed the roof, let's get real: 60 years ago, it would have been regarded as a Victorian eyesore, no loss. And remember that it already underwent a fake-stone facade disfigurement long before the Ballingers arrived on the scene. So, paint jobs aside, the fundamental crimes-against-heritage were a pre-Big-Bop fait accompli--when all is said and done, re whatever remains, the proprietors have left well enough alone over the last quarter century, considering...
Darcy McGee / January 28, 2010 at 09:21 pm
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I used to know a couple of girls who claimed they named the place when they called into CFNY and made a suggestion.

Right crazy sluts those two were. Good times. I'll miss them.
boo replying to a comment from BD / January 29, 2010 at 02:07 am
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they're moving to keele i believe. close to the keele bloor subway station. HOWEVER it is really sad to see that part of the neighborhood turn into some pretentious shit, especially when it will house an american company. queen st you have failed me
MapChap / January 29, 2010 at 08:33 am
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Good riddance! Move on parachute pant kids, move on.
scarborough / January 29, 2010 at 09:12 am
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its a bout fucking time thish shit hole closed its smells its trashy and it just makes are city look like shit ... even the music coming out of there is not very good
cheers!
HAHA / January 29, 2010 at 09:38 am
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ironic you're from scaborough and you're telling toronto what's good for it's image. news flash, scarborough is just as shitty and smelly as the big bop
Metheme / January 29, 2010 at 09:43 am
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I think its really sad that some of you people find the need to classify everyone who goes there as "shit holes" or "trash" or "gutterpunks"... for your information, I attend this venue quite frequently and am a 9-5 working professional, with enough disposable income to supplement my dog, as well as weekend drinks. Shame on you for being so judgemental. Didn't your mother tell you, "If you can't say something nice, say nothing at all"? Why bash the people who enjoyed local talent there for so many years? For shame.
Metheme replying to a comment from Craig / January 29, 2010 at 09:46 am
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You've obviously made that up because in all the years I've frequented this establishment, I've never witnessed someone outside shooting up or doing coke. That is complete and utter B.S.
POS replying to a comment from Metheme / January 29, 2010 at 09:46 am
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Nope. Its a shithole. They are all punks.
Case closed.

Good to hear how rich you are though.
metheme replying to a comment from POS / January 29, 2010 at 09:50 am
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I don't recall saying I'm rich? I was making the point that not all people who hang out there are "homeless gutterpunks" with dogs they can't afford to feed. Some of us are working professionals who enjoy supporting local talent.
MapChap replying to a comment from metheme / January 29, 2010 at 09:54 am
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You were definitely implying you were well off in comparison to those so called "gutterpunks". And FYI, no local 'talent' has played the Big Bop in over a decade...if ever.
openyoureyes replying to a comment from Metheme / January 29, 2010 at 10:10 am
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Pay closer attention next time you are flaunting your bill fold around there.
Right behind the building in the ally across from the Pizza Pizza, its a haven for drug using asshats that frequent the area.

If this is the local talent you speak of, well then you have a far different definition of talten than the rest of us do.

I prefer rock, not acid rock.
Buck / January 29, 2010 at 01:42 pm
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Hopefully the new tenant will clean up the building and restore it somewhat. A lot of the street people that previous posters are referencing hang out in front of St. Christopher House - it's kitty corner to Big Bop. It's a centre for the less fortunate. Their mission statement is: "St. Christopher House has, as its central purpose, the enabling of less advantaged individuals, families and groups in the community to gain greater control over their lives and within their community."
I always see drug deals going down in front of it.
JPB / January 29, 2010 at 02:05 pm
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I never went to the Kathedral but I've been to the Reverb a bunch of times and Holy Joe's a lot more, watching friends and local talent play the top floor on couches with christmas lights on the ceiling. Truly one of my favourites spaces in the city.

We got to have a Holy Joe's sendoff on Sunday which was really wonderful.
apetimberlake replying to a comment from boo / January 29, 2010 at 04:33 pm
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I would prefer an american company to some junky shit hole.
Jimi / January 29, 2010 at 08:37 pm
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I felt a lot safer in there then i did at all the expensive clubs around Peter and Richmond. Was there last night for Paul Di'Anno. Great show, good wooden sounding room, unlike many shittier sounding clubs in this city that seems to be catering to the upper class.

Very sad to see it go.
Marc / February 17, 2010 at 09:54 am
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It's sad to see it go. However, I'm glad the building will remain. But another furniture/living store? PLEASE. Enough already. No more furniture/living stores, salons and spas. They are eating up nice shopspaces which could go to more cafes, eateries, markets and bookstores which are really needed and are more of priority buys.
Marc / February 17, 2010 at 09:58 am
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Oh and it's really really sad that the building might house an american business. At least a Canadian business for crying out loud!
Scooter / March 24, 2010 at 05:42 pm
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i started going to the big bop in 94, and worked there from '01 until it closed. i am crushed to see it go, and not turn into another venue. it would have been nice to see them do what they did to the drake. i always wondered what it'd look like cleaned up.

the new venue is called The Rockpile www.therockpile.ca
it's at dundas w and east mall, right by hwy 427.

opening night is april 10th
andrew / July 30, 2010 at 09:52 pm
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On a Friday evening about fifteen years ago, my friend Mike and I were down and sad as we were broke and couldn't afford to hit the clubs let alone the beer store. We were walking around the back alleys looking for something to do, and the back door to the Bop had been left swinging open in the wind. I guess they had just gotten their beer delivery because inside were stacks and stacks of 24s!
We didn't say a word to eachother, we didn't have to...as quick as a bullet we each grabbed a case and ran off! Needless to say, we shared our good fortune with a few fellow broke friends and had one of the best nights of our lives. Warm beer never tasted so damn good!
Andrew / July 30, 2010 at 09:58 pm
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On a Friday evening about fifteen years ago, my friend Mike and I were down and sad as we were broke and couldn't afford to hit the clubs let alone the beer store. We were walking around the back alleys looking for something to do, and the back door to the Bop had been left swinging open in the wind. I guess they had just gotten their beer delivery because inside were stacks and stacks of 24s!
We didn't say a word to eachother, we didn't have to...as quick as a bullet we each grabbed a case and ran off! Needless to say, we shared our good fortune with a few fellow broke friends and had one of the best nights of our lives.
Warm beer never tasted so damn good!

Kat / August 26, 2010 at 04:53 am
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I loved The Big Bop. There was a point when I was there almost weekly. Every one of my high school friends who were in bands had shows there, and I saw The Misfits there on a few occasions (among countless others). When you get older, you forget how important all-ages venues are. I remember being fifteen and so crushed that I couldn't see a band I liked perform because it was a 19+ event.
Big man / October 3, 2011 at 01:10 am
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I don't care what it looked like. I went to a number of great shows there and always enjoyed myself.
Big man / October 3, 2011 at 01:10 am
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I don't care what it looked like.

I went to a number of great shows there and always had a good time.
Salt / October 3, 2011 at 01:59 am
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One of the things I always really liked about the Reverb (middle floor) was the fact that there was so much wood construction. Regardless of how it looked, as a music fan I'll say I loved going to a show there because it had some of the best acoustics.
Clem / December 11, 2011 at 10:48 am
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I loved the Bop too. I could be myself with NO criticism from others. Dance my way, drink my way, socialize my way. I really fit in and the variety of music offered on all the different floors satisfied my eclectic tastes. The diversity in culture and age groups made it one of the places everyone could feel comfortable. And those idie bands need a place to grow...some who became REALLY BIG in the music industry. If you support new musicians, creative dance, and a good party, then The Bug Bop was the place to be...at least back in the 80's and early 90's.
Brian / January 13, 2012 at 12:42 am
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Rock downstairs, dance upstairs, good times all around.
My memories of the Big Bop are nothing but good.
Late 80's, early 90's...great place to be on the weekend.

I'm glad I was able to experience and enjoy it.
I hope young people in Toronto have similar places to go today.
Lon Ballinger / February 11, 2012 at 06:32 pm
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When my two brothers and I opened this night club in 1986 we had the hottest club in the country for nearly 5 years we had lineups down Bathurst and right around the corner to Richmond street every night we where opened.Dj Avery rocked the first floor and Debbi ? Played house music on the second floor

.When we found Webster Hall in NYC in 1990 i knew it was the end of our run .....We have all been together in NYC ever since ...Some old timers may remember some of our other clubs .........Just to make a wry comment......Its too bad so many of you sound so hostile.Lighten up folks lifes too short to be so bitter sounding ..Take care you fun folks and come see us in NYC someday and to so many ....thank you for the fond memories Toronto ...
Ania replying to a comment from Lon Ballinger / March 12, 2012 at 02:58 pm
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Lon Ballinger. Remember the little people like the ones who did the lighting upstairs with Debbi ...
Lon ballinger / March 13, 2012 at 08:06 am
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How could I forget you.? you guys rocked the place what great times we created/had take care and try to make it to NYC sometime ...
Dušan (Dan) / March 27, 2012 at 02:09 pm
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I'm from Chicago and the Big Bop was always on my stop whenever I'd visit Toronto. It was a great place to hang out. I was just up there not too long ago and saw that the "joint" had transformed into a store. Anyway, some great memories.

Is the Diamond Club still around?
Dustin Wade / July 3, 2012 at 04:07 am
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Growing up on Queen West, I've been to hundreds of events there (including shows my own band played) during the 90s, and up until its very last day of business. Not once was I ever hassled there, or felt the least bit unsafe. 'The Big Bop' was certainly was a lot safer, than any club in the 'Entertainment District'. The closing of this place was truly the final nail in the coffin, for the Queen West alternative scene. Interesting to find out, its original purpose was as a Masonic Hall. Especially considering I'm a Mason now, myself.
Matt replying to a comment from Scooter / August 6, 2012 at 10:38 am
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Scooter, you're a tool. How can you dis a legendary spot like the Big Bop? If it wasn't for places like the Bop, you wouldn't have a sandbox to play in with your Tonka Toys and your electronic Simon game. As to the Rockpile, the only Rockpile I will ever step foot into better be owned by a guy named Mel. Anyway, as I was........ wait, what? You weren't dissing a place that some people called home for many years? You didn't avoid the place because you and your friends actually felt comfortable leaving your houses to play with the cool kids? Let me guess.... you have always wanted to tell Colin Farrel to fuck himself. Good boy. I like green hair.
Minna / November 5, 2013 at 03:08 am
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I still remember that one summer of 91 when I practically lived there every weekend. I had come down for two months from Finland, and TO and the Big Bop seemed like a heaven to me. Avery and Joe played good music downstairs, and we danced all night. If anyone knows where some of the local guys are today, give them my regards. I was the blonde Finn who never had money to go anywhere :-D My special kiss goes to Micheal Morris, the beautiful Irishman who stole my heart forever. G'bye Big Bop, lots of great memories!
Urban Survivor / December 17, 2013 at 02:50 pm
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I worked there as a bouncer a long time ago..I cant even remember when..I think it was '96..somewhere in there...It was a run down place..and I was big, so I got a gig as a bouncer, even though Im not particularily tough..I have some fond memories still...mostly involving the girls you meet as a bouncer..one time I had an ethereal encounter with a girl standing in a streetcar...it was stopped at the red-light, and her and I exchanged glances, and gestures..I tried to get her to smile...I did...I was standing in the snow, she was bundled up, hanging on to the bar...we made these cute signs to each other...the light turned green, and the streetcar drove off, with a wave we said our goodbyes.

Another time I "rescued" these 2 beyond-cute Chinese girls from some clown who was hassling them on the street...the next week night they brought me cookies, and a thank-you note in the most adorably mangled English you ever saw....

I once let a naked black kid on roller skates in, who was being chased by the cops..lol..turns out he was white, and covered in shoe polish, and was at some AIDS benefit, and didnt have a change of clothes..

Then theres Frances..who stole my heart..

Then there is some not so fond memories...they had a hip-hop gig there in the Bop one night..they brought in private security, while us regular squad guys worked the Reverb for a Filipino dance..many cute Flip girls...I went downstairs to check on my friend Rachel, who was running a small bar in the back pool area. Anyway, downstairs were some jerks from Scarborough...who had "dissed" some twits from North York, and even though the MC tried to calm everyone down..I heard the distinct balloon-popping sounds of gunfire..everyone dropped..except me..cuz I was wondering who thought it was New Years Eve.....Once I clued-in I too went down..such as it was for some back then.

After a pause, the screaming started, and the place emptied out...some kids were trying to get out through the Bathurst-side crash door exit..normally my job would have been to keep them away from that door, but this time, I was helping them get out..the whole door came off its hinges straight down..and I was half way to Front before I stopped and realized Id forgotten about Rachel...so I ran back, went in..grabbed her, and we bailed out and hid in the alley by the Paddock...after a few minutes, she realized that she'd forgotten her coat and her till...so feck..sure enough, I went back again...the place was cleared out, and the lights were on, so she got her kit, and I sent her upstairs to the office.

On the floor was a body..a kid was dead..a hole right between the eyes...his head was surrounded by a pool of the reddest blood Id ever seen...it pooled and swirled...I stood there for a moment trying to make sense of the blood mixing with the crud and rice grains(?!) on the filthy checkered floor.

He was still breathing..but he was out....I knelt down and said..something like "Ambulance is on the way kid, hang in there"...I dunno if it made any difference..I checked for a pulse..it was still there..I slapped him gently on the cheeks...I guess to see if he had a reaction..a man there telling me not to do that...his mouth full of blood...I thought for a moment about mouth to mouth...I didnt.

The emergency guys finally come...the cops too...my "supervisor", some tough punk, made himself scarce...he'd seen nothing anyway, but he knew a night at the station giving statements isnt how he wanted to spend his time..I stayed..I felt dejected and awful....I told the ambulance guy what I had done..asked if it would have made a difference if Id given him mouth to mouth..he said..."The kid was dead before he hit the floor...his body was just still working." That felt.."better" somehow.

The staff that hadnt run off were all collected in the Bop by the cops...I gave a statement to some uniformed officer...at once point I wanted to look outside the front doors, and was immedicately hit by this spotlight from some news crew....I ducked back in....This kids body lying there almost in the middle of the floor....under these spotlights..like a freaking movie..everyone stayed as far away from it as they could..the Ambulance guy said they had to wait for a doctor to officially declare the kid dead before they could haul him away. Eventually a TTC bus came and took us all to division..and we signed up to be interviewed....like a dummy I went to call Rachel first, so by the time I got back, my name was at the bottom of the list, so I had to wait all night, and wasnt interviewed until sunrise....I said the same thing I said here..and to the uniformed cop. Id seen nothing. I contributed nothing to the investigation.

After I got out, I walked back through some park west of Bathurst and Queen, back to the Bop..they'd drawn some circles on the sidewalk in front where theyd found casings I guess....I walked all the way back to Parkdale where I lived..since I was too messed up to do otherwise.

Later on Dominic told me he thought that someone who was eager to show off his new Yankee-bought gat (probably) had fired into the ceiling..one of the bullets struck a concrete support, and bounced into this kid..it could have easily been me...since where I was standing with Rachel was directly in line with the kids body, and the door where the punk had fired from...that was pretty chilling. I heard other stories that the kid was screwing around with some guys girl..I dunno..

I saw his face in the paper...just a kid..16 or 17.

I quit shortly after that...moved to Vancouver,...then to Australia and Japan for a decade...now Im back...after a Jays game we walked by it..in its new form...thank god that awful purple is gone..and its a bit nicer to look at.

So, thats what the Big Bop is for me...so Im glad its now just some sterile yuppy store.

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