Toronto’s Great Hall is one of the few remaining examples of Victorian architecture on the city’s increasingly condo-fied West Queen West nightlife strip, a grand 19th-century banquet space that’s often used to host weddings. But since 2012, the annual Long Winter concert series has facilitated a very different sort of union there.
On the second Friday of each month, from November through March, Long Winter transforms The Great Hall into a labyrinthine four-story circus. You can ping-pong between lesbian cock-rock cover bands performing in the ballroom and suburban teenage MCs playing their first downtown gigs in the bay-windowed parlor. You can head up to the building’s top floor and relive your high-school house-party days grinding to Amerie’s “One Thing” or descend into its crater-like basement and watch a documentary about Birthday Party guitarist Rowland S. Howard. You can take in an interpretive dance from an aboriginal performer as part of a live discussion about the challenges faced by feminist artists of color or you can crush a tallboy and pass out in a TV-equipped art-installation pup tent. And if you’re still bored, just play one of the 3-D video games projected onto the ballroom’s walls.