Much-loved gay club to shut its doors after 20 years near The Village
'It was a safe place for us to go and dance and party and be open'
The nightclub Fly 2.0 has made it official on its Facebook page, announcing that it will close its doors for the last time over the Canada Day weekend, with the final party on June 30.
"Fly just filled a void," explained Andrew Pedulla, a long-time customer.
"It was a safe place for us to go and dance and party and be open and not have to worry about being in the club district downtown," an area that he said wasn't as accepting of gay people 20 years ago when he first started going there.
The building housing the club on Gloucester Street, just east of Yonge Street, has been sold and is expected to be turned into a high rise in an area that's rapidly changing, with multiple construction cranes and new towers dotting the skyline.
Pedulla said the club offers something different from other bars in the Village.
Fly known for dancing, not 'standing and modelling'
"It was one of the first places that was more geared towards dancing and partying, as opposed to what we used to call stand and model, or S & M bars," he laughed.
One added special connection to the nightclub for him: it's where he met his husband more than 17 years ago at a Valentine's party when his favourite DJ was spinning.
Pedulla is one of hundreds of people who commented on Fly 2.0's Facebook post, devastated it's going to close, and not just temporarily, as it did in 2014.
Next door to the nightclub, at Olympic Pizza, also slated to close, waiter Carlos Pandeirada said he's devastated he'll be out of a job after 39 years.
His manager Akter Hossain doesn't think the local restaurant will be able to find another spot in the changing neighbourhood.
"All the big big buildings coming, they don't let the individual businesses stay, because rent is too high," he said. "We cannot afford the rent."
Another condo planned for Church, Wellesley raises concerns
For Ann Atkinson, who's lived in the area since 1993, it's another proposed development nearby that raises more concerns.
At the intersection known as the heart of the Gay Village, Church and Wellesley streets, a development notice tells passersby an application has been made for a 43-storey building.
"We are certainly protesting that one," Atkinson said. "It's the Gay Village and [we] want it to stay that way. If you put in a 43-storey building, it takes that away."
She's also frustrated that she has less and less sunlight in her home since more towers started being built, and has lost her view of the CN Tower.
"I do the shadow studies every time one of these condos goes up ... I will be in shade for six months of the year at noon."
Pedulla plans to visit Fly 2.0 on its final weekend.
While he's sad to see it go, he said there is a positive.
"We can safely eat, play, work in East York and Liberty Village and North York, pretty much anywhere now," he said. "So I think the necessity for the Village may be declining."
But at the same time, he said, for some the neighbourhood continues to be the only place they feel safe, especially for people who aren't fully out or come to Toronto from small towns that may be less accepting.
"The Village is still sort of that beacon to say, 'You can come here. You can be who you want to be. It's safe, we've got your back.'"