The Best Strip Clubs in Toronto
The best strip clubs in Toronto have their spiritual home on Yonge St., even if they're actually out on quiet stretches of the Queensway or Dufferin, in heritage buildings near the Don River, or sitting on prime real estate on King West. A third of our list resides on Yonge, in locations that often date back to when they were bars with bands and maybe an MC who told off-colour jokes between sets, back when burlesque was a recent but fading memory and Toronto was till - at least in its own mind - "the Good."
Many of these clubs are family-owned - yes, you read that right - and as venerable as anything else in the town, with histories going back to the late '60s, when loosened city regulations turned go-go girls into topless dancers and Yonge Street went from seedy to sleazy. They look pretty much like you'd imagine - ripped and patched upholstery, neon lighting and walls painted black, with watered-down drinks and a staff of dancers who are either working their way through college or professionals with a kid or two to feed. (Or occasionally somewhere on the way from the former to the latter.)
These are the best strip clubs in Toronto.
The Rail doesn't get its name from a stripper's pole, but actually predates this obligatory accessory to the exotic dancer's act. It remains in full garish vigor within walking distance of Rosedale and U of T and some of the city's best hotels, and was the sort of place where you were most likely to spot celebrities during the Toronto International Film Festival. More high profile than upscale, it put itself on the front line of the city's fight against lap dancing, if that means anything to you.
With valet parking and a King West location, "Eyes" is the strip club for the upwardly mobile. There's a coat check, but on second thought thanks but no thanks. The stage is bigger than a kitchen table, and thanks to its proximity to the city's publishing and PR industry, Eyes has witnessed more than a few memorable evenings remembered by people who really should have known better.
A lot of good bands once played on the stage at the Zanzibar when it was a Yonge Street showbar and the strip was famous for its R&B and rock and roll acts. That was a long time ago, though, and nowadays you're more likely to see a lovely young lady with a few piercings and a half-finished sociology MA next to a peroxided pro who's paying off her implants before buying a ticket to L.A. to try and make some real money.
The Lancaster has two locations, one in rapidly-gentrifying Bloordale and the other out on the Queensway, in what was once a supper club that gave these clubs their name. The downtown location is a bit grittier, the Etobicoke club more likely to see the odd wet-eyed suburban dad with a hard, faraway look in his eye. Both clubs are likely to feature the same girls with their intriguing Eastern European accents.
The only strip joint on the list featuring male dancers, it might be betting a bit of a boost from folks wondering if Magic Mike was realistic. (It isn't.) The crowd was once male only except for Sundays, but women have been given the run of the main floor later in the day, though the second floor is still a boy's club.
This gray-painted bunker on Dufferin north of Eglinton does its best not to look too inviting, and it looks nothing like the garish strip clubs of movies and TV crime shows. The low-profile Fairbanks makes the Bada Bing Club look like Epcot Centre. The owners have admitted that they're sitting on the land hoping to sell it for condos. On a cold weekday, the sign outside said it was open, but the doors were locked tight.
It looks like a strip club from an old movie, and occupies a bend in Dundas East that has made it a high profile downtown landmark. Many years ago you'd find delivery drivers from the Simpsons warehouse filling the tables at lunchtime. Today it's supposed to be the entry level club for dancers working their way up to the Zanz or the Rail. One day its neon sign will be in a museum.
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