No love for Toronto rave-hub the Guvernment

Raver kids in tank tops and fur leg warmers will gather this weekend to mourn the loss of the Guvernment — their sanctuary of sticky floors, exposed bras and people weighed down by “candy.” After 19 years of parties, the Guvernment is shutting its doors for good. And it’s about time.

While many students are sad to see their party hub go, I couldn’t be happier to say goodbye to a club that can be no better described than sketchy as f–k.

If you’re one of the few who managed to snag a ticket to one of these sold-out Guv finale shows, expect hyped-up people asking for gum at the bar, needing to get so drunk that the constant beeping and bass lines by the DJs begin to sound remotely like music, and a lot of molly.

Everyone at the Guv congregates on the main level’s 22,000-square-foot dance hall that faces the stage and light show. This area can be broken down into three stages of raver. The back and edges are for people who want a bit of personal

The Guvernment is (Courtesy SimonP, Wikimedia)

After 19 years, The Guvernment is closing its doors on  Jan. 31. (Courtesy SimonP, Wikimedia)

space — it’s also close to bars. There’s an outdoor space for some socializing but it’s usually where you’ll find the regulars. Then there’s everything from the middle of the floor all the way crammed to the front of the stage. This is when you get stuck in the middle of flying kicks, flailing arms and sweaty bodies slamming into you from all directions — a pinball in a machine has more space to roll before being slammed than a person in this mess. And if that doesn’t sound cramped enough, DJs have the ability to set off a thick, white smoke that covers the crowd during their light shows. Now you can’t see the person beside you and bodies slam you even harder. You end up in a different part of the room.

But for those who love the Guv, this is the kind of night they want and they’re willing to pay whatever it takes to hear a DJ press play one last time at this venue. Some people love the Guv so much that they have started posting pictures online of mementoes they’ve taken. Included in this is a picture of a stolen rug posted on Facebook with “a little piece of history” written below it.

I don’t even want to think about what could be on that.

But to be fair, the Guv has been a staple of Toronto’s nightlife and ranked among the top nightclubs in the world. Owned by INK Entertainment, this waterfront property has hosted the Rolling Stones, Prince, Lady Gaga and Bob Dylan in its Kool Haus extension, which is also closing.

But what students know it for is its constant flow of professional DJs like Deadmau5. While dubstep and electronic dance music (EDM) are popular genres played at many clubs, it’s the pairing of these styles of music with the Guv that perpetuates a party style of heavy drinking and the expected use of drugs.

A crowd parties at a rave in London, England. (Courtesy Dominic Simpson, Flickr)

A crowd parties at a rave in London, England. (Courtesy Dominic Simpson, Flickr)

Every time a Guv ticket is sold, a dealer gets his wings.

Even with their frisking, bra searches and purse checks by security, there’s no way to completely stop bathroom deals. But then most people who want to do drugs show up high.

In 2008, a 55-year-old man died after overdosing at the club on Pure Rush — an herbal ecstasy he took before arriving. The death was the second overdose in the club’s history and the third death in all (a bouncer was shot and killed after asking someone to butt out a joint six years prior).  Then in 2012, a man drove the wrong way down Highway 427 after partying at the Guv. The crash killed two people. Police say the 22-year-old had about twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system.

The Guv doesn’t promote drug use or driving while drunk. But the reality is that this nightclub has an atmosphere that fuels a culture of heavy drinking and drug use. People go here to get f–ked up. And becoming part of this culture can put both yourself and others at risk.

So while there will always be Guv luv, that building doesn’t love you back.

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on Jan.  21, 2015.

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