Sneak Preview at the Drake Hotel (1150 Queen West), September 27, 6-9 pm. 416- 531-5042. Rating: NNN
just so there's no room for confusion, this is a review of Sneak Preview at the Drake Hotel and a preview of The End Of The Tory BS Revolution at the Gladstone Hotel . It's a column about celebrating beginnings and endings, and not about sleeping at hotels.
There's no danger of anyone sleeping at the Drake Hotel in the next couple of weeks. Not comfortably anyway. When the Drake threw open its doors last Saturday mid-renovation for a glimpse of things to come, most of its window openings were still unglazed. Scaffolding continued to shroud the old hotel-turned-flophouse-turning-hip-hotel as groups of wide-eyed people crossed the door frame to enter what's being heralded as an art community centre for Queen Way West.
Inside, an impromptu arts festival awaited. Amidst some very middling artwork in the form of installations, posters and a few projections, Tyler Clark Burke 's little spray-painted monster mural was pretty cute in all its blocky ferocity. Performances included an avant-garde dance pair who threatened to bowl over the small gathered crowd.
The space was the real draw. As it stood that night, the Drake was one big art installation. The main lounge area, like most of the hotel, had been gutted. In the sea of plywood, an old black sign featuring a macho duck in full flight leaned against a wall.
At the back of the room, a large skylight (read hole) cast a white glow against a plastic sheet, washing out a video projection while highlighting a stainless steel table placed across the entrance to what will one day be a very clean kitchen.
The staircase is a thing of beauty. A neat silver rail urged guests up to the Sky Yard, a rooftop space still cluttered with graffiti and featuring a plywood bar. In the newly divided second-floor rooms, a hard hat left in a corner and a can of Orange Crush abandoned on a windowsill gave evidence of recent work.
The whole place had the feel of a spontaneous art community welling up in a space dominated by I-beams and exposed wire. It seemed more like a squat party in Berlin than a hotel preview in Toronto. I'm hoping once it's complete with yoga space and sushi bar, the Drake will retain some of its current flexibility and rawness. Parkdale hotel previews its soon-to-flourish art concept