Toronto club scene

Here's what it's like to line up for a club in Toronto on a Saturday night

Toronto loves its lines, whether for sneakers, pop-ups or food. But there is nothing like the city's nightlife and the line-ups that come hand in hand with it.

I'll be honest, I'm nearing 30 years old and I'm getting to the age where lining up for the club is something I don't want to be doing on a Saturday night. I'd prefer to stay in and watch some sports or a movie.

But, since it was a couple of friends' birthdays, we decided to go to Midnight Market on College Street this past Saturday. It's a club that we've partied at before and we are familiar with.

Between Midnight Market and Big Trouble, these are two bars that my friends and I enjoy.

Typically, we would head out around midnight. This past Saturday, however, we planned to arrive at 10 p.m. since we wanted to get started earlier. We were also hoping we wouldn't have to wait in -5 C weather for too long.

Like most Saturday nights in this city, the downtown core was filled with groups of friends who pre-drank and were heading out to continue the night at a club.

Heading to the club, we ran into French Canadians who were partying and rapping in French on the Bathurst streetcar. Not one of them paid their fare, but they seemed to be a great group of people visiting the city for the first time.

To no one's surprise, there was a decently long line to get in when we arrived at Midnight Market.

The College and Bathurst intersection where Midnight Market is located is also home to Sneaky Dee's, El Rancho, Nest, Bar 422 and The Green Room. Given the line up of spots serving alcohol, this is my preferred alternative to King Street West's nightlife.

Plus, if you're going to go with a big group, you're bound to have to wait a while to get in, especially if you haven't booked a booth or made a reservation. We came mentally prepared and huddled together to keep warm.

In the first five minutes of lining up, we heard a big bang. It was a fender bender on College Street. Nothing big, but the sound was massive. The driver seemed to have been distracted by the long lines outside of the clubs and was curious about what was happening.

Thankfully, there were no injuries and both drivers quickly cleared the scene.

Thirty minutes into lining up, and perhaps a metre further than where we originally stood, we still had dozens of people ahead of us. However, we made some friends in line.

Now, whenever there's a large group of people lining up to go to a club, there's going to be people who will attempt to cut the line by sneaking themselves into your group or making friends with the group.

Many people were just not having it that night, however. A group of underaged out-of-towners attempted to cut the line in front of us. The combination of alcohol and frustration led to the group attempting to try and physically fight us for the spot.

At my age, I'm over fighting for a spot in line at a club on a Saturday night. The good thing was that no fists were thrown — just a bit of shoving and jacket grabbing. Eventually, the other group was asked to move to the back of the line by security.

Forty-five minutes in, the line was still moving slowly. Trying to bribe the bouncer is not like in TV shows or films. We even offered to buy a couple of bottles, but still, we were denied.

There's an unwritten rule with clubs that there needs to be a good balance between women and men. Most clubs allow women to bypass the line. Most of the women in my group were able to skip the line after waiting just under an hour.

Bouncers in general don’t get the credit they deserve. It truly sucks if they won't let you in after bribing them, but on Saturday night I saw firsthand that they've got tough jobs as well.

One patron was very intoxicated and asked to leave. However, they did not believe it was the right choice, so, naturally, they fought back by yelling and screaming.

"I’m paying you! Why am I getting kicked out?!" the patron yelled and started to push back at the bouncer.

Toronto Club Scene

Security at Midnight Market was able to take down a patron after they were removed from the club. 

Friends tried to calm him down, but the situation escalated and the security team at Midnight Market had no choice but to physically take down the patron.

Of course, it wasn't a pretty sight as many people started to worry that this could lead to a situation where someone could be seriously hurt.

People took their phones out to record, just in case something was to happen. But the security team handled the situation very professionally and the patron walked away after being on the sidewalk for almost five minutes.

All this has happened, and we still were not near the front of the line. About an hour and a half in, you start to question yourself. Is this worth it?

As the clock struck midnight, we were at the front of the line. Groups of people started to leave the club making more space for new patrons.

If the night wasn't eventful enough, right before entering the club, a group of men dressed in mariachi costumes walked by. Although no music was played, this truly capped off a strange lineup experience in Toronto.

Toronto Club Scene

A man was seen in a full mariachi costume along College Street. 

Midnight Market is a genuinely fun club to party at. They've got great music and a great space even if it's small and crowded. However, if you're able to find the speakeasy in the back, it's a bit of a relief from the club scene in the same venue.

A post-club ritual for our group of friends is Rol San Restaurant, but since they recently moved into a smaller space, there was also a line.

No way I was going to line up for a second time that night. So Canton Chilli it was.

Toronto club scene

The 3am spread at Canton Chilli is what is needed for a wild Saturday night. 

After this experience, I learned that I really need to befriend more club security guards and bouncers.

If you're going to party in Toronto on a Saturday night, I suggest you bundle up, wear comfortable shoes and bring your patience with you.  Keep your eyes open because you never know what you're going to see while waiting in line at a club. 

This exact experience might not happen again, but there's always a chance it could.

Lead photo by

Kris Pangilinan

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