self defense toronto

Toronto bar now offers self defence lessons

Many of those who work in Toronto bars and restaurants know that the industry has a lot of work to do when it comes to making these establishments a safe place to party.

That's why Nightowl, a bar on College Street, will start offering free self defence classes for women every Wednesday in March.

“It’s a grey cloud over our industry right now,” says owner Braden Rubinoff, referring to the allegations swirling around a bar just down the street from Nightowl.

In December, a 24-year-old woman was allegedly confined, given drugs and alcohol and sexually assaulted inside College Street Bar. Two men, including one of the bar's owners, were arrested and charged in connection with this incident.

This shocked the industry and many began talking about how to change it. A group of female bartenders, for instance, held BASH - bartenders against sexual harassment.

However, just a few weeks ago, a sign promoting rape culture cropped up at another bar, this time along King West.

A post shared by Nightowl (@nightowltoronto) on

Rubinoff and his team started to brainstorm because they wanted to do something in response beyond simply offering a drink special, which included a donation to a female-focused charity.

Since his basement dance floor and concert area sits empty for most of the week, he decided to team up with self defence instructor T.J. Kennedy, who also does security for Nightowl.

The sign-up is now open. Each two hour class is completely free and is capped at around 40 people.

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns


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