A new Toronto hotel is building space for nightlife to thrive
Since it's opening in late-July 2022, the Ace Hotel Toronto has become a unexpected hotspot for Toronto's underground nightlife.
Located near Camden and Brant, the hotel has hosted events alongside ISO Radio, Cold Pod, Jems Condom and Afrique Like Me to name a few. Kuruza's Minzi Roberta also puts on an audio-visual experience called Dreamscape on the last Saturday of each month.
For emerging partygoers and those who've been in the scene for a while, the Ace Hotel Toronto has become a go-to for DJ sets, film screenings and hi-fi music.
That's all thanks to Ace Hotel Toronto's community and marketing manager Michael Nyarkoh.
Nyarkoh's connections with Toronto's nightlife scene is extensive, having previously started collective Mother Made with some friends about 7 years ago.
"The ways I segment culture and cultural happenings it takes the [bookings], the music, the movies, the workshops around polyamorous relationships...the intimate moments to make something whole to me," said Nyarkoh.
Nyarkoh joined the Ace Hotel Toronto team in the midst of the pandemic in 2021. His aim for the hotel is to showcase a range of programming that make use of different spaces within the hotel.
The most interesting of the spaces, Interspace, differs from the others in that it's an open concept space that allows for events to be creative with their design and set-up. Used some nights, it has already been accessed for talks, guided drawing nights and dance parties.
"I'm working towards making space for BIPOC queer folks, marginalized people, that's the core of what I do," said Nyarkoh. "I want to work with people that believe in what this place can be."
Once its doors finally opened in the summer of 2022, Nyarkoh's first weekend events saw YOHOMO starting their three month residency 'CAN I BE ME?' during Caribana on Friday, and Baby Blue, a DJ duo consisting of Young Tesh and Prince Josh kicking off their first Saturday which was curated by label Art & Crafts.
"That weekend was wild...part of me was having this thought that "it was going to be either a very busy night, or the deadest one ever,"" said Nyarkoh. "People came, were excited, confused, and were enthusiastically making sense of the space."
This was the beginning of over six months of events that would reintroduce the city to hotels hosting spaces for underground collectives, design talks, music releases, meditation guides and ballroom events to name a few.
"The beautiful thing about the Ace brand is that it allows for a variety of groups, and encourages as many people [to be a part of it]," said Nyarkoh. "The hotel doubles as a hangout spot that also doubles as a party venue that also double as a wedding venue...it's this interesting amalgamation of things."
Previously, two distinct hotels hosted were known to host events in the city, the Drake Hotel and the Gladstone House.
While the former hosted event such as Beam Me Up! disco nights and School Night at the Drake Underground, the latter held events such as All 90s and Hide and Seek for Pride.
While the Drake Hotel still thrives, currently hosting Kris Lodu's One Night Only every Thursday as well as concerts throughout the week, the Gladstone House has scaled back on its events post-lockdown.
When Gladstone House ceased all operation in March 2020, its planned reopening and new look kept people hopeful that the space would continue its past of being a nightlife staple. This didn't happen.
Instead, events at the Gladstone House have mostly been stagnant since its reopening. Under Nyarkoh's direction, the Ace Hotel has stepped in to provide an alternate venue.
February events at the Ace Hotel include a focus on Black queer filmmakers such as the short term conversation series with Toronto queer festival Inside Out.
This weekend the hotel is hosting SHADES on Feb. 10. and Ace Afrique, Random Access and Cold Pod Cinema Club on Feb. 11.
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