Sometimes the worst enemy of a good night out is the DJ. Maybe you want the comfort of your home stereo with the luxury of someone else mixing the drinks. Even the blandest jukebox usually has enough tunes to put together a reasonable soundtrack for fun, but a few joints take the concept to the next level.
Photo By Mark Coatsworth
Old faves rock the juke at Sweaty Betty’s.
Many in the west end swear by the uncorrupted vibe at Sweaty Betty’s (13 Ossington, 416-535-6861). Sorry for spoiling it. When there’s no DJ playing, the eclectic jukebox stacked with old favourites next to obscure indie bands provides the tunes. The place is tiny, but there’s a decent patio out back that will be busy as soon as the snow melts.
Just a short walk north, the Communist’s Daughter (1149 Dundas West, 647-435-0103) boasts a similarly eclectic selection, which goes well with the loose, friendly atmosphere of the semi-rehabilitated hole-in-the-wall. No patio, unfortunately, but there are great pickled eggs if you’re brave enough.
East of Yonge, the Imperial Public Library (54 Dundas East, 416-977-4667) has a different take on the idiosyncratic jukebox. This one is actually filled with old 45s, and the Imperial is one of the few spots where you could program a good evening of classic jazz with a handful of change and, of course, a few pitchers of cheap beer. The place looks a bit like it’s been stuck in a time warp, and the crowd can go from senior citizens to college kids in the blink of an eye. Some of you will find all of this charming. Others will feel like they’re in a David Lynch film.
Mention should also be made of Wrongbar’s (1279 Queen West, 416-516-8677) jukebox, which we’ve yet to actually see in action but which is slated to be filled with vinyl from the owners’ impressive collections. Come to think of it, hooking that thing up to their main PA might make for a good concept party.