I visited UG3 Live late one Friday night. The entrance to the bar looks pretty similar to most clubs in the Entertainment District; there are a few bouncers, two ATMs, and the now-ubiquitous Toronto mural on the wall in the entrance. After paying cover ($5) and walking through the doors to the bar, it's clear that UG3 is anything but a typical downtown club.
Like the original Underground Garage, there are lights strung up across the ceiling. Unlike the original, the space has high ceilings and is wide enough to comfortably accommodate patrons without the feeling like you're in a Y2K bunker 15 years too long.
There's a bar upon the entrance and another one at the other end. The walls are decked out with vintage posters of bands and movies, and opposite the bar is a cool display of old vinyl.
The best part of the bar is the stage -- a slightly raised platform with living room rugs covering the floor and a gate blocking overenthusiastic fans from interrupting the set to request Sissy That Walk (as is always my first instinct with live music).
The whole bar has a relaxed, comfortable vibe, like chill house parties in those few golden years between messy ragers (getting all your parent's stuff broken by friends of friends of friends) and adult gatherings (allergy-accommodating dinner parties where the topic of conversation is always who is pregnant and whether or not it was on purpose).
Inspired by the Jim Morrison-esque singer of the band that was performing that evening, I decided to get a drink. I chose a vodka soda ($4). The taste was pretty standard for a VS, but considering the cost of this drink was less than half of what you would pay at another club down the street , it was fantastic.
As I stood around, drinking and re-checking my 23andMe.com results every so often to make it seem like I was texting a friend ( yup, still Irish ), I noticed everyone around me having a really, really good time.
The crowd was a little older than the typical downtown club scene (ages seemed to range from just entering employment to having watched and voiced an opinion on the OJ Simpson trial as it was ongoing) and there was a wide diversity of looks, ranging from ladies in heels to girls in chucks to dudes in jorts to a single guy in a coral dress shirt, unbuttoned to his solar plexus.
Everyone was either rocking out to the band or gathered in groups, talking, and everyone seemed to be having fun, despite the band's resistance to playing RuPaul. UG3 Live is easily the best new bar I've been to in 2015. It's cool, it's relaxed, and it's a lot of fun.
It marries the best aspects of any good club/bar: the drinks are good but they're not overpriced, the vibe is cool without being douche-y or dive-y, the washrooms are nice but there's no bathroom attendant that leaves you digging through your pockets for a toonie, only to half-sheepishly and half-regretfully hand over a TTC token.