nostalgia toronto

Why Toronto loves nostalgia events right now

It might be 2016, but it feels an awful like the 1990s in Toronto as local venues keep hosting throwback dance parties, themed nights and other retro events that aim to appeal to a millennial audience eager to relive their childhood.

And no one seems to do it better than the Gladstone. The West Queen West hotel used to host colouring book nights and it just launched a weekly event dubbed 90s Kid Tuesdays - an evolution of its Lego and Lagers night. This iteration not only has Lego, but also Pogs, giant Jenga and 90s music.

Tara McCallum, the Gladstone's director of marketing, thinks these themed nights give young people a chance to relax and bond over their childhood memories. "It was in our lives, a really carefree time. And a time of being tacky and a time of shitty music that was awesome," she says with a laugh.

Beyond 90s Kid Tuesdays, the Gladstone made headlines earlier this year with its annual Come Up To My Room art and design exhibition. Why? Because artists Sarah Keenlyside and Joseph Clement painstakingly recreated Ferris Bueller's bedroom and people went nuts for it.

The Royal Cinema is also dishing up some nostalgic movie magic. Programming administrator David Bertrand tells me the Royal's had a lot of success with its throwback film series. "The Royal's really found its place in doing these retro series and that's really what people have responded to," he says.

This weekend, the College Street theatre is hosting its second Saturday Morning All-You-Can-Eat Cereal Cartoon Party, featuring a three-hour lineup of animated clips from the 1940s to the 1980s. This mini festival, curated Kier-La Janisse, has popped up in numerous cities around the world, including in Toronto last May.

But it was a huge success, so the Royal brought it back. "It went really well, you know. Aside for the fact that I had to keep running to the store to buy more milk for hours and make sure that everybody got their fill," he says.

Bertrand notes that many young families attended last time and seemed eager to introduce their kids to shows from yesteryear - a task that's even more important now considering few television stations actually broadcast Saturday morning cartoons.

Toronto, of course, isn't the only city experiencing a nostalgia boom. But it's easy to see right now as 90s-style clothing fills the racks at big box retailers and local boutiques, Sneaky Dee's throws weekly 1990s and 2000s-themed parties, hundreds line up for cotton candy-covered ice cream cones and Pokemon Go is one of the biggest issues facing city hall this summer.

Perhaps people have always wanted to escape to a bygone time, or maybe we all just want to be a kid again. Grow up? As if.

Photo by Krystle Merrow via the Gladstone Hotel Facebook page.

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