If live music is your scene, you’ll love what Toronto has to offer. While major arenas like the Air Canada Centre regularly feature big-name headliners, dedicated music-scene aficionados know that smaller venues often provide a more intimate experience. Whether your taste runs from salsa to jazz, the Toronto nightlife scene has lots to offer.
Strap on your comfiest and most stylin’ dance shoes if you’re headed to Lula Lounge on a Friday night. This popular venue offers beginner dance lessons, with a live salsa band hitting the stage an hour later so you can show off your new dance moves. Ready or not with your mambo cross body moves, your inner Latin soul will soar to the Afro-Cuban hand percussion, piano, bass, and tres sounds straight from Havana. On other evenings, you can explore South American genres such as samba, bolero, and bossa nova, or pulsating Latin jazz. Plan to arrive early and fuel up with tropical cuisine like Argentinian beef with chimichurri sauce or an order of spicy Cajun catfish that will have you dreaming you’re in New Orleans.
Rex Jazz and Blues Bar
For more than 40 years, the Rex Jazz and Blues Bar has played a major role in shaping Toronto’s music history. Just take a walk around the photo gallery posted on its hallowed walls and you’ll recognize many of the greats of the music world. Some of the world’s biggest names in jazz have appeared on stage here. Have fun trying to recognize the faces, and guess their names as you check out the portraits, posters, and autographs. This beloved music institution continues to bring the best of jazz, funk, and blues to Toronto in 19 performances each week. Just pull up a seat at one of the wooden tables, order a platter of towering nachos to share with your friends, and enjoy an evening of live music. Who knows, you may even spot the next superstar!
If blistering piano and bluesy ballads are your thing, head underground to the Reservoir Lounge where a wide range of top lounge performers create sultry evenings filled with R&B, Motown classics, or jazz swing. With its dimly-lit decor of rustic stone walls, plush seating, and billowy crimson curtains, you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into a 1950s speakeasy as you groove to classic jazz from the ’50s and ’60s. If your toes start tapping, squeeze onto the dance floor for a Savoy swing or two to wrap up your night.
Another turn along Toronto’s sparkling downtown streets and through a ruby door gets you into one of the city’s classiest jazz clubs, Jazz Bistro. From the cherry-red polish of the Steinway piano to the acoustics of the state-of-the-art sound system that transport you to Carnegie Hall, and a swanky fine-dining menu bursting with treats like Panko-crusted shrimp in mango sauce or oh-so-tender spinach and ricotta gnocchi, you’ll be filled with anticipation for your evening of live music performances. Whether it’s the keyboard magic of a piano virtuoso or the seductive sounds of saxophone in vintage R&B, you’ll soon be swooning and crooning along with Jazz Bistro’s stellar roster of live performers. A glass of bubbly champagne caps off the night in true Toronto nightlife style.