by carl wilson

Twilight of the Matador?

The Toronto Star reports that the City of Toronto wants to turn Toronto's notorious country-and-western after-hours bar The Matador into parking. I wouldn't exactly call this "paving paradise," but it is a bit like the Disneyfication of Times Square, but with an infinitely duller result. Ann Dunn, the Matador's legendary madam-of-the-a.m., seems uninterested in keeping it going (which at 79 is understandable), but she won't go for the rip-off price, for both owners and taxpayers. $800,000 for a 20-spot lot? Come on. That's not an expropriation-justifying public good. As BlogTO rightly points out, "a parking lot in the city of Toronto exists for about as long as a free round of shots on the Matador's bar at 3 am. The space is destined to become a condo construction site (with inevitable underground parking), so this move ... reeks of a city desperately looking for ways of generating cash, historic businesses be damned."

I suspect that since the smoking ban, the Matador's business model (a hangout and music venue after the bars close, booze sold under the table or rather out of a trenchcoat, enough profit to pay off the local cops) has become untenable, especially with the city now regularly extending licenses to 4 a.m. for special occasions like the film festival, though of course only for special venues (read richy-rich ones). Harrison Ford doesn't need to go to the Mat anymore. Someday, perhaps, we'll have a closing time that reflects how late folks in a major cosmopolitan city go out, even when they're not Harrison Ford. But the Matador space is amazingly atmospheric, classic, and the sign is a cultural icon, and some creative entrepreneur could do something terrific with it in a booming 'hood. But no, the city wants to pave it over, because it has the foresight of a flea.

Besides a boozy afterparty following some friends' wedding years ago, my fondest Matador memory was probably seeing Neko Case in 2004 recording part of her live album, The Tigers Have Spoken. Up top is Leonard Cohen's Closing Time video, famously shot at the Matador. Big Sugar's Turn the Lights On vid was filmed there too. (Any others?)

Via Toronto | Posted by zoilus on Monday, September 24 at 2:22 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (4)



"They" , have not noticed an empty lot one block west on College where the gas station used to be. 30+ car park!!!! Ready to pave even...

Posted by BikeforLegs on October 2, 2007 9:49 AM



Every time you go in the Matador it echoes the secret stories all of us have built into the place. When we chose it as the set for Leonard Cohen it was an honour to add another fun story to a fantastic legacy.

Why are the most interesting things so easily lost?

In reading the article in the Star it occurs to me that the people going to get their workout at the Dovercourt Ymca might consider riding bikes instead of looking for parking spots.

curtis wehrfritz

Posted by curtis on October 1, 2007 9:29 AM



How many green P parking lots do you see around town -- lots and lots. The blog TO "round of shots" thing sounds good, as you repeat, but ain't so true.

forget about the history, our city government is leveling the city for a parking lot.

Posted by Jim on September 29, 2007 1:09 AM



K.D. Lang's Turn Me Round was also shot there back in the 80s.

There have been many things filmed there, so many that I can't remember them all. If you want a full list email me and I might be able to get it out of my Baba.

Also, I created a facebook group for this issue...

Posted by Joe on September 25, 2007 10:15 AM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson