Neutral (officially spelled as Neu+ral; the plus sign is pronounced as a t) is a bar and concert venue on the edge of Kensington which has been around for several years. It recently underwent a series of interior renovations; the bar got moved back and therefore made more floorspace available. In its present form, the venue features a main room and an optional front room.

The main room features two friendly bartenders at a long counter to the left of the entrance, a sometimes-stage area on the wall opposite the entrance, a DJ booth on the entrance side and a large dance floor in the middle. The front room has its own DJ booth, seating, and a dance floor.

Neutral is owned by an amiable fellow named Oz Ferreira, who ran another bar for a time called Z (near Dundas and Bathurst). The place is meant to cater to an alternative crowd: goth, EBM, retro, industrial, psytrance and hard alt rock are some of the genres that get spun at regular events, and many a goth and industrial act has taken the stage for special events.

The music and dancing are Neutral's biggest draw for those who appreciate it, although I've seen people turn out the door after quickly deciding it isn't their thing. That said, the Tuesday night Karaoke Kult event (a Steve-O event) brings in anybody around the area who likes the song catalogue and atmosphere. The dance and stage lighting have received upgrades along with the speakers, making for a loud and colourful time.

I first came to Neutral some years ago, having experienced a few different spaces that worked reasonably well for goths and industrial folk. What they tended to have in common were inexpensive drinks and little to no cover charge. Neutral fit this profile, but its location at College Street and Augusta kept it from being on my radar most of the time.

Eventually, most of those Queen West places have gone or really changed, and Neu+ral has become as regular a hangout as any for me. Oz recently instituted a five dollar cover charge to few complaints. It's a basement to some and a cultural landmark to others, and the latter bunch hopes it sticks around for a while yet.

Writing by Dylan Madeley

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