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the Palais Royale

alma

TRIBE Member
I cycled by the Palais Royale (on the lake at the bottom of Roncesvalles) this week. It looks the same as it did on the ouside, but on the inside there's a reno going on. Any chance of there being any electronica/dance events there, like at Sunnyside?

It does say DANCING after all -->
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dvs

TRIBE Promoter
memories.... i managed the outdoor pool (gus ryder/sunnyside) there many summers ago... boy we had ourselves some fun times. lots of history in those two spots (palais and sunnyside pavillion)

d
 
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SmoothOperator

TRIBE Member
The RnB parties at Sunnyside were sweet. They threw a few at the palais too. I love checking out all the historic stuff in this city. Thanks for that link!
 

lucky1

TRIBE Member
20 said:
. Any chance of there being any electronica/dance events there, like at Sunnyside?

maybe 8 years ago there was a slu of parties there... I was subject to the most intensive search ever at the door before a nighmare party... I mean it was take off the shoes, take off the hat, pull your pant legs up.. crazy..

there was a fire there or something a few years ago?
 
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dvs

TRIBE Promoter
lucky1 said:
20 said:
. Any chance of there being any electronica/dance events there, like at Sunnyside?

maybe 8 years ago there was a slu of parties there... I was subject to the most intensive search ever at the door before a nighmare party... I mean it was take off the shoes, take off the hat, pull your pant legs up.. crazy..

there was a fire there or something a few years ago?

yup. fire a few years ago through a section of the floor.

d
 

lucky1

TRIBE Member
palais royale is a cool historical building.. you know how the dancefloor is up a couple steps? it's becasue in the 30's (depression time) being on the dancefloor was status thing.. It was free to go inside, but it cost a token per dance, so ladies would stand around and wait for a man to ask them out onto the dance floor.(becasue that meant he was paying for the dance)
 

dvs

TRIBE Promoter
^^ oldest original 'sprung' dancefloor of it's kind in north america i've been told which is why it flexes and bounces so much when the place is packed. a bit unnerving when you experience it at first but pretty cool when you find out it's 'supposed' to flex that much.

i've seen old flyers for that space with acts like count basie and the like. crazy. can only imagine how cool it must've been as a venue in it's heyday.

d
 

dvs

TRIBE Promoter
dunno about history nerd ;) he he i do find it interesting to read/learn about the history of old spots like the palais and the transformations they've gine through over the years. kinda sad to see building that were so vibrant at one point in time languish like that.

d
 
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Aerius Zension

TRIBE Member
It was fun doing the Lindy Hop there in the mid-late 90's.

Badly Drawn Boy did a show there last year, or 2004 I think.

Love that place.
 

D1Willow

TRIBE Member
does the fact that it's going "banquet/function' mean they'll be removing that cool bouncy floor? There's no info. on the website saying either way, and that would be a shame.
 
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octo

TRIBE Member
Palais Royale reno
May 21, 2006. 07:38 AM


Toronto has always had a waterfront, but unlike today there was a time when Torontonians actually used and enjoyed it.

Back in the days before the automobile, television and summer cottages, people flocked to Sunnyside Amusement Park in their thousands. During its heyday from the 1920s to the '40s, no lakeside attraction was more popular than the Palais Royale.

In that more innocent (and urban) age, patrons paid 10 cents to get in and five cents a dance. The strongest drinks available were coke and ginger ale. That didn't stop Duke Ellington from showing up, or Benny Goodman, Count Basie and a host of other big bands.

Then came the War, the Gardiner Expressway and the rise of suburbia. Suddenly Sunnyside was Sunnyset and the action moved uptown; the long slow decline of Toronto's waterfront had started. Even now, half a century later, the recovery has only just begun.

Appropriately, the Palais Royale will play its part in that revitalization. After years of neglect, the old dance hall is being refurbished, updated and enlarged to the tune of more than $3 million. The dust won't settle until early June, but by then this old wooden structure should have been coaxed back to life.

As to how Torontonians will respond, co-ordinator Nancy Malek is confident they will be as excited as she is.

"I think the location is brilliant," she insists. "It's easily accessible except by public transit. It won't take long to re-educate people that the Palais Royale is back. From what I've heard, it was always a hot place. It will be again."

Hot it was; when Eddie Duchin's Central Park Orchestra performed at the Palais in 1933, 3,000 people showed up. (The Rolling Stones, who played there in 2002, had only 1,000.) In between it hosted dozens of big band, rock and other musical acts and held countless dance nights. (See sidebars.)

So the revival couldn't have happened to a nicer building; in fact, the Palais and the nearby Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion are the only structures left from the glory days of the lakeside.

But "it's not a true restoration," explains architect Den Farnworth of Goldsmith Borgal, "it's more an adaptive reuse."

That means original details have been repaired where possible, but also that changes were made. Though the Palais will become a dance hall once again, it was built originally as a dual-purpose building; the bottom storey and the front strip were used by a boat-builder, while dances were held at the back of the ground floor.

And despite the myth of the famous floor on springs, no such thing existed.

Though designed by one of Toronto's leading architectural firms, Chapman, Oxley and Bishop, in the early 1920s, the building had fallen on hard times in recent decades. Structurally, it was sound, but numerous unsympathetic alterations and additions had messed up the interior. In the late 1970s when weekends saw it host new wave and punk concerts by the likes of Joe Jackson, a certain rundown quality might not have ruined things, but ...

"It was in pretty bad shape," Farnworth reports. "The stucco, wood siding and windows needed replacing. Now the north windows have been refurbished and the doors on the east and west are restored."

The ambience of the original 1922 Palais was established through architecture — the stone fireplace, the decorated columns, arched windows, carved insignias. Today, flourishes such as these have given way to the technology of entertainment, i.e. TV sets, video screens, speakers and the like. These may make up for obstructed views and poor acoustics, but they don't bring much character to a venue; indeed, they have introduced a depressing sameness to the world we inhabit.

That, of course, is precisely why the new operators of the Palais are so excited. In a time of ever-growing cultural homogeneity, here is a relic of long-gone authenticity, a forgotten outpost of architectural individuality, a remnant of a lost world, which, though hardly ancient, might as well have existed 1,000 years ago.

That's how much Toronto has changed during that time. Indeed, the big question about the future of the Palais will be whether it can be integrated into the 21st-century dystopia we inhabit. Back before there was a Gardiner Expressway or a double-width Lake Shore, the Palais was fully a part of Toronto, as was the waterfront. The place was packed six nights a week, and except for the Lord's Day Act, that would have been seven. But shopping and drinking , let alone dancing, were forbidden on Sundays. This was Toronto the Good, don't forget, the town that boasted as many churches as trees.

Even now, the city, which owns the building, has made it clear it doesn't want the Palais to become a nightclub. Instead it will be an event venue, a place for CD launch parties, corporate functions, weddings, bar mitzvahs and the like. As Brian Mulroney would have put it, the Palais is open for business.

But the emphasis now is on convenience and comfort as well as character. That means expanded washrooms, more bars and a bigger kitchen. It also means a parking lot, something that has upset many local residents, who, not surprisingly, can't understand why the waterfront must be paved over to make way for yet more vehicles.

Their outrage isn't hard to understand, especially at a time when waterfront revitalization has started, but the realities of the 21st-century entertainment/hospitality business is that the car is key. Getting Canadians out of their motorized chariots goes beyond the scope of the Palais Royale.

Originally, the parking lot was planned for the east side of the Palais, a forlorn space between it and the industrial-scale Boulevard Club next door. Neighbours complained about trees being cut down and valuable greenery being lost, but that's a bit of a stretch to say the least. This is no lakeside paradise, and the new operators insist they're going to plant 30 trees. (Hallelujah, that must mean the greening of the waterfront has finally started!)

Recently, however, there has been talk about moving the parking lot to the unused land between the east- and westbound lanes of Lake Shore Blvd. The spot is connected north and south by a footbridge, though patrons will have to climb the equivalent of a two-storey stairwell.

There is an existing parking lot to the west, but it's a full three-minute walk away, enough to put the fear of God into an operator's heart. People will come here for fun, not exercise.

Then there's that little problem of the Martin Goodman Trail, which runs right past the front of the Palais. It has evolved into a bicycle expressway; pedestrians cross at their own risk. The prospects for beer-laden Palais patrons lurching into the night after an evening of partying don't look good. Next thing you know, Martin Goodman will have to have speed bumps.

Still, the old building should be happy. The main hall will soon have a new dance floor and stage. The columns are being cleaned up, their cornices and bases replaced where necessary. Remarkably, the original ceiling, a marvellous wooden structure that arches over the space, remains intact. A large outdoor deck is also being constructed; it extends to the very edge of Lake Ontario and alone can accommodate 400 people. Downstairs, where boats were once made, there's now a series of "function rooms."

"It'll be 95 per cent complete by the time we open," says Joseph Borg, who with Pegasus Corp. now has a 16-year lease on the Palais Royale.

"The rest, including the landscaping, won't be finished for another year."

According to Malek, "We plan on being a banquet hall and event room. We expect there will be a lot of private functions. We will touch on all genres of music."

The Palais' next public appearance will be on Sunday, May 28, noon to 4 p.m., for Doors Open, the annual architectural extravaganza during which many buildings in the city welcome visitors.

Even for those who don't dance, the 84-year-old hall will be of interest; aside from the nostalgia of the site, it reminds us that cities, though written off by previous generations, are alive and well.

It's true that tremendous damage was inflicted on urban centres during the post-war period, but like the Palais itself, they have endured changing fashions and attitudes to see another day.

There's no better symbol of Toronto rejuvenated than the Palais Royale. Now if only they could do something about the Gardiner, one thing that should be buried, not rejuvenated.
...
 

Chubbs

TRIBE Member
I used to love that bouncy floor!

Funnily enough I was reminiscing on this place last night, hoping they'd do more parties there.

I saw a post online somewhere that they are hiring all types of positions (bartenders, banquet servers, bouncers) so they must be back in action soon.
 

The Tesseract

TRIBE Member
Bouncy floor and sweat-sock smell in the air.

My folks went to see Blue Rodeo there about 2 years ago. When they came back, my dad said to me something along the lines "you went to raves in that shithole?"
LOL
 

alma

TRIBE Member
lucky1 said:
I was subject to the most intensive search ever at the door before a nighmare party... I mean it was take off the shoes, take off the hat, pull your pant legs up.. crazy..
take off the hat i understand, but take off the shoes, wow
 
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