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Music

The top 10 dance parties and bars in Toronto

Posted by Guest Contributor / January 22, 2014

Dance bars TorontoThe top dance parties and bars in Toronto give movers and shakers who want to do the two-step but side-step the club ample options about town on various nights of the week. These events span the musical gamut and make for great birthday party ideas or serve as an easy way to break up the monotony of both the pub and club scene. So close the laptop, crawl out of hibernation mode and go dance.

Here are 10 great Toronto bars and recurring party nights to get your dance on.

Shindig! at The Piston
This all-vinyl 50s and 60s Rhythm and Blues dance party happens on the last Friday of every month. If you like Motown, don't miss it. A perk at this Bloorcourt bar is ample room on the dance floor. You can shake it to Shindig! without mosh pit overtones. Free before 10:30 p.m., $5 after.

Goin' Steady DJs spin Chronologic at The Garrison
This Dundas West live music venues is taken over once a month by this popular event that takes you on a trip through time, providing a survey of music across the calendar from 1890 to 2012 played in chronological order. This DJ duo has been packing Toronto venues since 2005, and helped The Boat in Kensington gain popularity. Chronologic happens monthly. Keep an eye on the Garrison's listings for the next one. Starts at 10 p.m. with a $5 cover.

Boots' N 'Bourbon
When it's not occupied by a mechanical bull, the dance floor at this Riverside saloon hosts line-dancing on Thursdays for those who are a little bit more country than rock' N' roll. Not an expert, you can get a free line-dancing lesson, too.

Muscle & Heat Is For Lovers
If you're looking for music for your soul to dance to, follow this regular disco-and-more night around Toronto. This three-member team used to be regulars at UNIT, then packed the house at Bambi's and Unlovable for some very seductive sessions. Experimenting with more offbeat venues, they recently hosted a pizza-fueled dance party at Amico's so you never know where they're going to pop up next. $5 cover.

Loving In The Name Of at the Great Hall
Dance to the best of both worlds with this hybrid night. Loving brings a live-music component to its pop music dance party. It starts out with a DJ and ends with a big band cover set, which works well in an event/concert venue like the Great Hall at Queen and Dovercourt. Some of Toronto's best musicians get together to cover Top 40 pop songs. Think Matt Murphy covering Britney Spears. $10 cover.

Footprints at the Rivoli
This DJ and design collective describe themselves as Toronto's premiere underground open format dance event. It's been around a long time, has a devout following, and brings visual components to the dance floor along with rare grooves. The DJs produce animated and live-action videos that they project during the party to beats ranging from Deep House to Funk and Soul. $5 before 11 p.m. $10 after.

Uma Nota
To change up the speed, check out an Uma Nota event for Afro-Brazilian, Latin, Caribbean, Funk and Soul music - and some culture. This Toronto event series started at The Gladstone in 2007, and now bounces between there and Lula Lounge on Dundas West. The heavy-sounding live percussion makes dancing lively and irresistible. Watch this events page for upcoming dates. $15 at the door.

The Henhouse
Already famous for its jukebox offerings, this Dundas West bar hosts dance parties at regular intervals. Every Friday you can find one of their boogie events fogging up the windows. Examples include That Time Of The Month (all-female soul, Disco and R&B), Regretro (retro tunes, song requests welcome) and Barbershop (retro-soul "jam for dudes who like dudes"). Check out their schedule here.

Clinton's Tavern
This Koreatown spot delivers more than one weekly dance party, providing options for school nights and weekends. Throwback Thursdays bring 90s Hip Hop and Rap at 10 p.m. with a $5 cover (free before 11 p.m.) and every Saturday you'll hear Shake, Rattle, Roll's 60s Rock, Pop and Soul tunes (10 p.m., $5 cover). Clinton's is a pub that might be best described with a mullet euphemism - think dive bar up front, party in the back.

Bambi's
If you can stand to get a little sweaty and don't want to pay a cover, Bambi's has subterranean dancing on Saturday nights, but get there early because it gets packed. Expect Disclosure-sounding Neo House beats.

BONUS

The Steady
New to Toronto, The Steady is a Miami inspired restaurant that just made our list of best new brunch in Toronto - but at night, this Bloorcourt spots turns into a bar that hosts everything from book launches to one-off and regular dance parties (find the queer-centric Steady on our best gay bars in Toronto list too). Recurring dance offs include Blood, Sweat, and Queers, Tramp!, The Dirty Hustle, and Deep Endz.

Writing by Erin Obourn. Photo by Leilah Vayid from the Uma Nota Facebook page

Discussion

56 Comments

pfft. / January 22, 2014 at 12:36 pm
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lol. based on one guest contributors opinion... great article.
DMX / January 22, 2014 at 01:17 pm
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THIS LIST IS BULLSHIT. BITCH CRAFT AT PARTS & LABOUR IS THE BEST DANCE PARTY BY FAR.

UP IN HERE
UP IN HERE
Prince / January 22, 2014 at 01:33 pm
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4 negs yet only one recommendation. If you know so much more then why don't you share, or is it the typical comment without content??
Jeff / January 22, 2014 at 01:56 pm
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You people are all a bunch of butt heads, why troll around BlogTO just to be negative, get a life and go experience some of the suggestions instead of sitting at home and picking your noses.. Douchelickers!!
David / January 22, 2014 at 02:08 pm
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Yes Yes Y'all!
David / January 22, 2014 at 02:08 pm
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At the Annex Rec Room
vincent_in_toronto / January 22, 2014 at 02:15 pm
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Haters, gonna hate... THE BIG SOUND is a must for ppl that like soul music. 20+ musicians plus 4/5 singers on stage, mind blowin' good fun! They usually play at the Adelaide Hall.
Rusty / January 22, 2014 at 04:35 pm
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Not that it isn't a good time, but I'm pretty sure those Goin' Steady DJs have been playing the same set list since 2005 for Chronologic. The Boat was a much better venue for it too.
Oscar / January 22, 2014 at 05:20 pm
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Went to a Chronologic a couple months back and they kept clearing off the dance floor with crappy stuff every couple of songs. DJs huddled off in the back of the stage presumably to ward off any requests. Tired!
Drew W / January 22, 2014 at 06:23 pm
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As a nightlife promoter & blogger its great to see a look into the diversity that the city truly offers, great insight. Feel free to check out my life&health blog lifebydrew.wordpress.com
KevinN / January 22, 2014 at 06:57 pm
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I was found dancing by myself in a dark room filled with flashing lights, rhythmic sounds, all while under a narcotic-infused trance.
ChudSchool / January 22, 2014 at 07:55 pm
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#1: EAZY LISTENING AT THE HOLY OAK

eeeeeeee-zzzzzz!!!!!!

ps: you people are so negative. Loosen up, hosers
Sarah / January 22, 2014 at 08:01 pm
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Where is The Peacok!?
regan / January 22, 2014 at 08:16 pm
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HIDEOUT!!!!
Vac / January 22, 2014 at 08:17 pm
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You forgot Baltic Avenue, one place where I feel comfortable showcasing my skills. And by 'skills' I mean...yeah.
MarkW / January 22, 2014 at 08:36 pm
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ummmm what about Pop Lobster at The Magpie? Amazing tunes amazing vibes. Always a solid party.
JJ / January 22, 2014 at 08:42 pm
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Honestly, is there any editorial work going on at blogTO at all? "Anonymous guest contributor says these are the best". Not that some of these parties aren't fun, but the choices are obvious and some are non-specific. Most of these recurring nights have active facebook pages - where are the links?! I'd welcome a more thorough and better-researched list on this topic!
malvin wright / January 22, 2014 at 08:53 pm
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Diversity. No Bump and Hustle? no six degrees salsa (on a tuesday night of all nights). Some of the nights are brilliant and legendary. BUT without those two we might have a bit of a one sided list. Lets who more diversity next time.
RS / January 22, 2014 at 08:59 pm
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No mention of the Retro Road Show?
peacebone / January 22, 2014 at 09:15 pm
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The Piston has so many great dance nights! It's a perfect size for dancing and the sound system is rad. Awesome retro 80s dance parties. And SYNTHESEXER is the city's best (only?) alt-electronic dance party (hosted by the Silent Shout guys).
ge / January 22, 2014 at 10:14 pm
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footprints is this saturday:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/footprintstoronto/
uma nota page here:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Uma-Nota-Culture/257277884315849
next shindig is friday, jan 31st
https://www.facebook.com/events/1393108414280510/
Holly / January 22, 2014 at 10:24 pm
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Um PARTY & BULL$HIT at PARTS & LABOUR!! Went there last week with my friends. Craziest night ever.
John / January 22, 2014 at 10:41 pm
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Best nightclub is in Aurora Ontario. Called DNA bar & Lounge.
Yin / January 22, 2014 at 11:08 pm
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I LOVE Chronologic at the Garrison. Great mix of my favourie songs, and the DJs really know their stuff cuz i hear so many new songs i love there
Jimmy B / January 22, 2014 at 11:31 pm
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Yes Uma Nota is great and at Lula Lounge occasionally, but you forgot they have AMAZING LIVE 12 piece salsa bands plus a DJs every Friday and Saturday and a dance lesson at 9 to get your groove on, ladies are free on fridays before 10 otherwise $15, I'm surprised it's not on the list the room is packed w over 200 people every weekend and it's truly diverse crowd. I love djs and all but nothing compares to live music! check some photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151840948657421.1073741837.7242797420&;type=3

http://www.lula.ca/
Splattermonkey / January 22, 2014 at 11:54 pm
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Thanks for putting us on the list!

Check out our fb fan page at http://facebook.com/shindigparty

See you on the dance floor!
toronto born / January 23, 2014 at 12:25 am
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Peacock, El Caballito (new mexican spot on king west), buonanotte on Fridays!
Ecole / January 23, 2014 at 12:28 am
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Good to know where NOT to go too
If you don't want to dance
Errol / January 23, 2014 at 01:27 am
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You Forgot this Monthly Party
where 100 Plus people attend
every First Saturday.
The Place to be is the
First Saturday of each Month
At Errol SALSA BACHATA DANCE PARTY
At DOVERCOURT HOUSE.
$10 includes a Beginner Salsa
Lesson from 8 pm to 8:30
& Intermediate lesson from 8:40 to 9:30
& Party from 9:30 to 1am.
No Alcohol Sold or Allowed.
Michael / January 23, 2014 at 01:42 am
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The top 10 dance parties and bars in Toronto... for hipsters?
Lawrence / January 23, 2014 at 09:58 am
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We are the new kids on the block.... VOX https://www.facebook.com/VOXToronto

Thanks!
You stand corrected / January 23, 2014 at 10:04 am
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MOTOWN PARTY @ 751
THE BIG SOUND @ great hall
YES YES YALL @ CODA
HIP HOP KARAOKE @ Revival
BITCH CRAFT @ Parts & Labour
LATHYEES NIGHT @ Drake
RACKS AND BAND$ @ Drake
SCISSORS @ Bassline
FUCK IT @ Clintons
90S PARTY @ Johnny Jacksons
PARTY & BULL$HIT @ Parts & Labour
santos / January 23, 2014 at 10:59 am
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Check out the Big Sound this Friday @ Adelaide Hall, 28 performers doing Classic Soul LIVE:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1395156494069312/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular
HouseLove / January 23, 2014 at 11:06 am
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Andy Pool Hall on Thursday nights for House Grooves. Awesome time - no cover.
JackeeO / January 23, 2014 at 11:13 am
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Empire at Monarch Tavern is their Brit Pop monthly and it's a great dancefloor. Very mixed ages crowd too.
michael / January 23, 2014 at 11:18 am
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Hey! Thanks for the shout out!

Much love,

Barber Shop at the Henhouse
Stanley LaRiviere / January 23, 2014 at 11:32 am
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I also love Tapette at the Henhouse! French fag dance party heat! C'est bon.
asas / January 23, 2014 at 12:04 pm
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best places to dance are not located downtown at all. blogto really needs to get some writers that live north of bloor st
The Dream / January 23, 2014 at 01:12 pm
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The Goin' Steady DJs have a new party that should be on this list... It can be described as a survey of new American and UK dance music with emphasis on future bass and house and is called HOMEWORK - act like you know.

https://www.facebook.com/events/203247096543887/
chappy / January 23, 2014 at 03:20 pm
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You forgot to check out BONER PATROL. Party happens weekly in my pants.
mateli replying to a comment from chappy / January 23, 2014 at 06:21 pm
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I've been there Chappy. BONER PATROL is hands down the best party in the city. You should host it more than once a week. I LOVE the tapas menu which includes crabs on a crustini cracker and the charcutery is too die four. The sauceage and brie cheeease!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Like OMG the other week i was given VIP access through the back door. didnt have to line up!!!!!!! word em up.
Julian / January 23, 2014 at 07:35 pm
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I love going every Friday to Social Dance Spot's Friday Social, they give you complimentary empanadas and a small salsa lesson at the start of every night! Best people and dancing partners.
Eleanor replying to a comment from vincent_in_toronto / January 24, 2014 at 12:35 pm
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The Big Sound is organized by the same folks who do LITNO so covering LITNO almost covers Big Sound as well.
SneakerHead / January 25, 2014 at 11:25 pm
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Family Business at Parts and Labour last weekend was madness, dj's blasting bangers all night
NaySayer / January 26, 2014 at 05:45 pm
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Went to Chronologic five years apart, and I swear to God it was the same setlist. Mix it up guys! You don't have to play Like a Prayer every single time, even if it is a great song.
Juliet / January 31, 2014 at 10:43 pm
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How about Lula Lounge??? Not only Uma Nota! They have the full salsa bands playing every Fri and Sat + when you bring a party the dance teachers plus DJs entertain the guests so u can relax! Not to mention live band party has a diff kind of feel!!
Wvrst / February 21, 2014 at 09:13 pm
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The only thing worse then this list is the promoters chiming in that their shit party wasn't included in this list of the shittiest dance parties in TO... That at the 30 something calling this a list for "hipsters"... Brutal.
HJH / February 21, 2014 at 09:31 pm
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Good choices. I'd add The Orbit Room on either Fridays (Dave Murphy Band - all kinds do music), Saturday (Ride the Tiger - Stax/Motown) or Sunday (Horshack - rock and roll). Dancing to live music is more fun!
The Game / February 21, 2014 at 10:46 pm
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Muscle and Heat 5 year anniversary, boom!
https://www.facebook.com/events/367046633437172/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming
Carly / February 22, 2014 at 02:44 am
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LITNO wasn't at the great hall tonight. It was at Adelaide theatre. We miss the great hall!! Please bring it back!! It's become more "club scene" rather than people
There to dance their hearts out to killer tunes. This month had half the turnout of last month. Dissapointig
crap / February 22, 2014 at 02:44 am
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I'm going to start a website that lists the best shit lists of everything in toronto get bought out by tor star!!! yay! ill 1000 comments per post and be rich... Wtff. what the flying fuck
Ryder replying to a comment from DMX / February 22, 2014 at 01:55 pm
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Bitch Craft -Best hip hop poseur nite in Toronto. The No Frills in Parkdale is a better time.
Don Jon Download / February 22, 2014 at 01:58 pm
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Hey BlogTO. Any suggestions for dance parties for people over 25? I've been to alot of these places and they're great. But I feel like a creep being the 30 year old.
Dorian replying to a comment from malvin wright / April 30, 2014 at 06:42 pm
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Six Degrees closed suddenly but seemingly permanently in January!
Clara / May 10, 2014 at 10:52 pm
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Anyone here knows of good parties hosted in pubs on Monday or Tuesday nights?
Not just for the kidz replying to a comment from Don Jon Download / May 11, 2014 at 08:33 am
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Lots of the dance parties mentioned are attended by a mixed age range crowd, from mid-20s to 30s and some older, incl. Footprints and Uma Nota and Shindig. And probably the events at Bambi's, too. Turning Point is another great one and a true Toronto original, amazing all-vinyl rare grooves and selections, used to happen at Gladstone, now at The Garrison. Also, there's a a party called Bump n' Hustle, a bit of an older crowd, but really fun Toronto old-schoolers of the funk/soul/house/groove scene -- a lot of them came from the Movement parties back in the '90s.

And of some of the others suggested that aren't on the list, I second Big Sound (now at Adelaide Hall), Motown Party and Hip-Hop Karaoke (though Never Forgive Action is better, I think). And a lot of them also do attract a mix of 20s, 30s and some younger and some older.

You should also keep an eye on the Promise guys and their email list and festivals.

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