Like the city itself, Toronto’s music scene is fractured into neighbourhoods. But while Parkdale has perpetual cool-kid approval (even if councillor Giorgio Mammoliti called it a “pedophile district”), Vogue ranked Queen West Toronto’s cultural MVP. But it isn’t only the coolest neighbourhood in Canada—it’s the second-hippest place in the world. And possibly the universe.
In a fifteen-town study, the magazine rated Queen Street only behind Tokyo’s Shimokitazawa, which makes it cooler than Stockholm’s Södermalm, Singapore’s Tiong Bahru, São Paulo’s Centro, and yes, even Brooklyn’s Bushwick. (Hey, New York: Fuck Brooklyn. WE THE NORTH.)
Technically, Vogue lists two neighbourhoods—Queen Street West and West Queen West—in their listing. Because, after all, the Drake and the Gladstone sits perched on the boundary between West Queen West and Parkdale.
Here’s what Vogue wrote on their website.
“Toronto is currently enjoying newfound prominence – and desirability – amongst globe-trotting tastemakers,” they write. “Queen Street West is a verifiable artery of indie patisseries, homegrown labels, and hidden-from-view galleries – hallmarks of hipness, if ever they existed.
“It’s also the home of the Museum of Contemporary Canadian art, well-established ‘art’ hotels The Drake and the Gladstone, and the charming Bicyclette, a local clothing boutique and lifestyle brand whose owners love ‘glitter, DIY projects, treasure hunts and details. Soho House Toronto is nearby, as is Graffiti Alley a block where street art is both 100-per-cent legal and lauded.”
But while the fashion magazine namedrops street art and boutiques, they surely also considered the musical hotspots on the street: It houses the Horseshoe Tavern, arguably Canada’s most iconic venue. Steps away, there’s the Rivoli, the former home of the 360, and the Cameron House on Queen West’s eastern edge. At Bathurst, there’s a CB2, but the corner once hosted the legendary Big Bop (which we miss), the Queenshead, the Zen Lounge, and the ever-grody and Q Bar. It intersects with Ossington, which opens up to venues like the Painted Lady and beloved honkytonk haunt the Dakota. Then, on its western edge, there’s the Drake (and its basement, the Drake Underground), the Great Hall (home of Fucked Up’s legendary Long Winter), and the region once hosted dance-ready venues like The Social.
So yeah, the second-hippest place in the universe? We’ll accept that distinction.