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Toronto Goth nightlife & concerts: Amy’s Arms live at Lee’s Palace, Gothic Industrial dance clubs.

alice's pig, off shoulder dress

I’m not your typical travel blogger. You won’t find me taking photos at Toronto’s CN Tower or Hockey Hall of Fame. Instead, I’ll be out at 2am, soaking in the city’s underground nightlife and culture.

Take my hand, and let’s explore Goth clubs, a Lenin-themed bar, and two Scott Pilgrim venues. Who’s with me?

lolita stained glass print dress, cat ears

On the first night, I took a taxi from my downtown hotel (One King West) to Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor St West). Recognize the name? Lee’s Palace was the site of many an epic band battle, in the Scott Pilgrim movie!

I met up with Linda Tea, who you may remember from the Toronto Goth modeling post. Love the stained glass print on her dress.

black white victorian mourning dress

I also ran into Laura the Mistress McCutchan (editor of Morbid Outlook, management for Amy’s Arms, and director of tribal bellydance troupe, The Serpentina North Ensemble). She is wearing the “Odette” dress by Gloomth, the independent Lolita label run by our friend Taeden Hall. I love how she accessorized the high collar bodice with rows of ruffles.

karen o'keefe, gothic lolita singer

We were all here to see our comrade Karen O’Keefe, singer and founding member of Gothic band Amy’s Arms. Karen’s such a positive spirit, and has been involved in the Ontario Gothic Lolita community for some time.

amy's arms, live band performance

We swayed to their melancholy songs, which convey energy and passion through Karen’s vocals. All over the stage, she twirled with swan-like arm movements. Thankfully, nobody challenged the band to a “duel to the death” (as poor Scott Pilgrim suffered).

bokeh concert photography bands

Amy’s Arms had just finished tour dates in Ottawa and Montreal, earning new fans in every stop.

theramin performance, lee's palace toronto

David Owen charmed the audience with his Theremin theatrics.

purple hair goth boy, guitarist

A colorful stage presence by Justin David Minister (composer/guitarist) and Tyla Thea Bolte (vocals).

gothic boots on stage

The devil’s in the details, from the sound quality to the boots on their feet.

korg keyboard player, scott pilgrim concert hall

Brent Kervin on bass, behind a Korg synthesizer.

concert photography amy's arms

I haven’t been to a concert for the longest time, and Amy’s Arms reminded me of how uplifting a performance can be. For a taste of their Goth rock, you can check out their Facebook and site. (I also featured their music in my Vienna travel video episode!)

concert photography amy's arms

Amy’s Arms was touring with headliner David J, the legendary bassist of Bauhaus and Love and Rockets. Moody, bluesy and classic Gothic… an honor to see him perform in the flesh.

sugarpill eyelashes, shrinkle false eye lashes

What I wore that evening: relatively neutral makeup, and spider-like eyelashes topped with gems, by my friend Shrinkle of Sugarpill Cosmetics.

pastel goth polka dot shirt, teal skull

My pastel Goth polka-dot top is by Spider Hong Kong (remember my Chinese Gothic fashion shoot with this label?)

pravda vodka house toronto

The next afternoon, I went for happy hour at Pravda Vodka House (44 Wellington St East)… a Communist-themed bar! You know I love weird theme restaurants, so this was right up my alley.

lenin head statue pravda toronto

Pravda is decked out in Russian Red memorabilia… including a giant, gold statue of Lenin’s bald head.

hammer sickle, pravda toronto russian bar

I saw hammer and sickles, a row of Russian dolls, and propaganda posters, and even a portrait of Chairman Mao.

interior communist bar pravda

The menu specializes in vodka, of course. Try the maple one, and the gravlax snacks. Nazdorovye!

sugar skull makeup dj, freaky fridays velvet underground

Later that evening, Karen took me on a Gothic nightlife tour. We started at Freaky Fridays, an alternative night at Velvet Underground (510 Queen St West). DJ Ivan Palmer was rocking the sugar skull makeup behind the booth.

nocturne goth club toronto

Down the road, we stopped by Bovine Sex Club (542 Queen St W), a favorite bar for punks and underground types. The entrance, a mass of mangled bicycle parts, is easy to spot.

A few more steps, and we were at Nocturne (550 Queen St W) — home to one of the longest-running Gothic nights.

toronto Rave, Retro, Synthpop, Goth club

Nocturne holds a variety of nights dedicated to indie and experimental music, such as rave, lo-fi, synth and futurepop.

toronto ontario alternative clubs

We came for Black Friday with DJ Osaze. He played an extraordinarily fun mix of Goth, Industrial, hard rock, EBM… including forays into highland dancing and flamenco. I didn’t leave the dance floor for more than a few minutes, it was that good.

tattooed female bartender, punk toronto

Did you realize Toronto, Ontario has such a cool underground scene? What should I check out the next time I’m in TO?

PS: I also wrote posts about Montreal and Vancouver alt nightlife, which I hope you find helpful.

45 Comments

  1. Posted May 11, 2014 at 2:43 am | Permalink

    Wonderful post! :)

  2. Posted May 11, 2014 at 2:46 am | Permalink

    cute!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Posted May 11, 2014 at 2:46 am | Permalink

    La Carmina!!!! «3

  4. Posted May 11, 2014 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    … XOXOXOXOXO … BEAUTIFUL …

  5. Posted May 11, 2014 at 3:52 am | Permalink

    So interesting! Would love to experience this culture sometime. Inspiring!
    Xx
    Rhea
    http://www.fuss.co.in

    • Posted May 12, 2014 at 3:46 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Rhea! Yes, Canada can be crazier than ppl expect ;)

  6. Posted May 11, 2014 at 4:20 am | Permalink

    Great shots!

  7. Posted May 11, 2014 at 4:29 am | Permalink

    this is awesome

  8. Posted May 11, 2014 at 5:01 am | Permalink

    Too cute!

  9. Posted May 12, 2014 at 3:39 am | Permalink

    love you

  10. Posted May 12, 2014 at 3:39 am | Permalink

    !!!

  11. Posted May 12, 2014 at 3:39 am | Permalink

    WOOOOOO!!!!

  12. Posted May 13, 2014 at 3:20 am | Permalink

    The show looks awesome and I love all these photos!

  13. Posted May 13, 2014 at 3:57 am | Permalink

    love so much ur blog, is so amazing !

  14. Posted May 13, 2014 at 3:58 am | Permalink

    Checking that bone place out!

  15. Posted May 13, 2014 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    . ;)

  16. Posted May 13, 2014 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    ♪ cute dress

  17. Posted May 13, 2014 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    CUTIES!

  18. Posted May 14, 2014 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    Adorable!!!!

  19. Posted May 14, 2014 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Cooooool!

  20. Posted May 14, 2014 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    0.0 beautiful ^.^

  21. Posted May 14, 2014 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    sweet!!!!

  22. Posted May 15, 2014 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Cool concert photos.

  23. Posted May 15, 2014 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    Gorgeous as always :)

  24. Posted May 15, 2014 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    is there any website that have the Toronto alternative community for llike clothes and clubs and stuff like that ?

  25. Posted May 16, 2014 at 4:06 am | Permalink

    You look gorgeous as usual!

  26. Posted May 16, 2014 at 4:06 am | Permalink

    I adore this

  27. Posted May 16, 2014 at 4:06 am | Permalink

    Oooo La La Lolita!

  28. Posted May 16, 2014 at 4:06 am | Permalink

    Appallingly cute.

  29. Posted May 16, 2014 at 4:10 am | Permalink

    Splendid!

  30. Posted August 1, 2014 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    When I lived there briefly years ago I went to Bovine Sex Club and some other places that have now since closed.

    • Posted August 3, 2014 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

      Fun! I may be back in Toronto soon, let me know if you have recommendations.

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