Legal late nights
Even if you're not much of a film buff and you're not into stalking celebrities, it's hard not to get caught up in the excitement around the film festival.
Whenever a big festival brings a flood of visitors to the city, Toronto likes to pretend to be a bit more cosmopolitan than it is by giving a select number of bars extended liquor licences to serve booze until 4 am.
And as always, most partiers wonder why this isn't permanent.
Dancing to the eclectic 80s-inspired throwdown at the Social Saturday, you'd have been hard-pressed to find any problems related to the extra hours of drinking. Well, other than the long faces on dozens of people lined up outside who never got in, but that's the point: why should some bars be rewarded, and why only on special occasions?
So what does last call accomplish? Walk into any club right before 2 am and you'll see a mad dash for the bar by people trying to get their drink on before they get cut off. Pounding back shots and double-fisting beers, they spill into the club district, drunker than they were back at the bar.
Some would argue that Toronto's nightlife already generates too much noise and trouble for the neighbours, which would only get worse if the bars could serve later. It's easy for politicians to pick on parties, and various resident groups are very vocal about their concerns, but at a certain point we have to realize that a city without a decent nightlife isn't much of a city.
The hundreds of thousands of people who visit Toronto for Pride and Caribana wouldn't come if there weren't dozens of parties every night, parties that are a lot harder to make happen when there isn't a decent nightlife the rest of the year.
As the city debates new noise restrictions for bars and nightclubs, we need to keep in mind how vital these institutions are to the character and appeal of a major city.
Toronto expat Jake Fairley paid a visit home last week, playing a live show at Footwork Saturday night for the monthly AFE Society party before returning to his life in Germany as a professional techno musician. This time around, the rock influences were pruned back in favour of the more traditional minimal tech-house sounds he initially built his name on. He still sang over a couple of tracks, but it was a very different vibe from when he used to rip into his techno-punk cover of the Stooges' I Wanna Be Your Dog.
In conversation after his set, he confessed that in Europe he's most often booked these days as his Fairmont persona, which has evolved from an ambient side project to a forum for his more melodic techno impulses.
Unlike the vast majority of live electronic performances these days, there wasn't a laptop to be seen in the booth. Instead, Fairley relied only on a drum machine, a synth, a sampler and a handful of guitar effect pedals to construct his machine funk.
True, it would be tough to claim that anyone in a club could actually hear the difference, and on a visual level, turning knobs and pushing buttons isn't that much more exciting than seeing someone click a mouse, but the limits of such a set-up do lend a certain consistency and identity to his sound. In some hands, that could lead to a monotonous groove, but Fairley has been working like this forever and knows how to get a lot out of some very simple tools.