brass rail

Iconic Toronto strip club the Brass Rail could soon close for condo development

It's hard to imagine a time post-pandemic when strip club operations will ever be the same as they once were, and it seems that the owners of one of Toronto's oldest and most famous venues agree, since they're currently looking at new options for their space's future.

The Brass Rail Tavern, which made headlines last August after 550 people were exposed to COVID-19 on its premises, may soon be a thing of the past.

The family behind the imposing multi-level establishment on Yonge St. south of Bloor are apparently considering wrapping up operations as they sell their three adjacent properties to developers.

In a statement to the Globe, the owners said "it has become obvious to us that the neighbourhood is evolving with new retail, condos and offices opening all around us," and that their plan is to find top buyers for their land and eventually close up the Rail.

Experts told the outlet that the end of the club is ultimately "inevitable" and would be well-timed these days given things like rampant develpment, high real estate prices and demand for more housing in the city.

Though it hasn't been able to operate for the majority of the last year due to the pandemic, the Rail has been a staple of the Yonge strip since all the way back in 1958, and has entertained countless celebrities over its tenure.

Its brief stint of reopening over the summer was short-lived and unfortunately resulted in the aforementioned public exposure to the virus, as well as revelations that the tavern wasn't following public health guidelines and that guests were leaving fake contact tracing information.

Given that such venues aren't exactly known for being clean, socially distanced environments, it was mere days before another strip club in the city reported cases, this time in multiple staff members.

Like many industries, clubs had to adapt to the new normal, some of them pivoting to focus on food and drink offerings, others going virtual or offering drive-thru experiences, and others arguing that forced closures on strip clubs were unfair.

As vaccine programs roll out across the world, there is hope that everyday life will soon return to something resembling pre-COVID times — but there is the sense that practices like blowing out birthday candles, sharing beverages or cigarettes and getting lap dances may become understandably less common.

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