Crews & Tangos

Crews & Tangos is where I go when I need to dance my heart out. The club is a nightlife staple in The Village , set up in an old two-storey Victorian house that's been gutted to make room for all the dancing queens. I find it endearing grungy, with sticky hardwood floors and peeling paint everywhere I go.

Even though the decor lacks pizzazz, it makes up for it with drag shows every night and energetic DJs playing a mix of House, Club, Pop, Hip Hop and Retro. Every time I visit, the two dance floors -- one in the back and one upstairs -- are packed; everyone smashed together like sweaty, sparkly sardines.

Long ago, it used to be a lesbian bar, but it's now a generous mix of guys and gals and recently celebrated its 3rd year anniversary after closing down in early 2009. This shining star was snuffed out with several other well-loved establishments that left the nightlife scene on Church and Wellesley seriously depressed. Rumours spread about liquor board violations and new condo developments, but, the Gaybourhood will keep its secrets.

The Victorian house remained dark for over a year, before Paras Prashad and Michael Ramawad waltzed in to save the day. They took over management, and Crews & Tangos was upgraded from seedy to... charmingly seedy. It reopened with a fierceness and was quickly crowned the number one drag bar in Toronto, showcasing favourites like Ivory Towers, Heroine Marks, and the recently controversial Daytona Bitch.

I recently hit up the club one Saturday evening and was greeted by the infamous drag show the second I walked through the door. A mouthy and charismatic queen was chugging a beer, a gift from an infatuated audience member, and strutting around the stage in shoes prettier than mine and with far better legs. At the bar, I found a good selection of beers on tap, but opted for a bottle (only because it's a better dancing partner) of Mill Street, for which I paid a ridiculous $7.50. Yikes.

As I shimmied my way around the club I found myself in a constant queue. If I wanted to go upstairs I had to line up. If I wanted to go to the back dance floor, large patio, small patio, or washroom, I had to line up. All of these lines were controlled by security, which made it seem like I was bumping into security every time I turn around. But, I found all these dutiful gentlemen to be fairly polite, the line ups the perfect opportunity to make new friends, and soon enough I was absorbed by the dance floors and smell man sweat.

Speaking of man sweat, there's no ventilation in this place. Sure, large fans are strategically placed all throughout the club to cool everyone down, but, they fail. Miserably.

Despite the long lines, the overpriced drinks, and my frizzed our hair, Crews & Tangos is always buckets of fun and The Village is not the same without it. It has a liberating "come as your are" attitude and a "be yourself" dress code. I know that whatever I'm looking for, I can get it at Crews & Tangos, and I can expect to get it without judgement.

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