#4: “The Future of King West” From 3/29/2010

Neighbourhoods | January 11, 2011

This is one of my favourite blog posts, if I do say so myself.

I don’t believe I’ve ever written anything so honest and with the ability to capture the essence of my true being as what follows below.

kingstreetwesttoronto.jpg

Cheval

Spice Route

Brant House

West

Brassaii

Dolce

Ah yes, – Dolce.  The newest, coolest, and most ‘exclusive’ of the over-priced, over-hyped, and over-the-top hot spots in the King West area.

On Saturday night, I enjoyed a rather brisk walk along King Street West.

I had three friends birthdays to attend this weekend, and I flew a bit of a solo mission in order to see them all.

I love our city and all that it has to offer, and some nights when I need to clear my head after a long day of work, I’ll go for a walk; just flip a coin, and pick a direction.  There’s always something to see.

On Saturday night, I walked west along King Street towards Dolce at King & Bathurst.  I marveled at the transformation of this once-barren area into what currently serves as the hottest locale for night-life in our city.  The real estate prices have skyrocketed, and condos on Portland, Brant, Morrison, Camden, Oxley, Charlotte and of course King Street, have become the most sought after in this burgeoning residential area.

If it were up to me, I’d probably settle for a game of Golden Tee at Betty’s on King East, but I’m not averse to spending a night in the back room at Brassaii, or at the glorified grade-eight dance that is Dolce.

“Have money, will spend,” goes the maxim of today’s 20-30-something young person, and youngin’s are flocking to Cheval and Spice Route like it’s going out of style.

I arrived at Dolce on Saturday night at about 12:45AM, and thankfully there was no line-up; meaning no groveling necessary, and I could save the $40 it might have cost me otherwise to get past the doorman.

I walked up to the velvet rope, and the doorman politely asked, “May I help you, sir?”

I paused for a moment, unsure of what to say, other than, “Um, yes, I would like to enter the premises.”  What else could I possibly want?  Asking somebody, “May I help you?” is more reserved for the cashier at McDonalds than for the doorman at a night-club.

After sheepishly saying, “I’d like to come in,” the doorman asked me, “And are you with any parties tonight, sir?  Any reservations, guest lists, groups; any name you might be under?”

Geez, whatever happened to just going somewhere and having a good time?

I told him, “I’m here for Krista & Natasha’s birthday.  They’re all inside already.”

I had successfully negotiated the first two obstacles to entry, but the third would prove heavy.

“Great,” he responded with a smile.  “But just to let you know, we do require a dress shoe to gain admittance.”

Oh-Em-Gee.

Please tell me you’re kidding.

“Please tell me you’re kidding,” I begged, as I looked down at my beautiful Hugo Boss “athletic inspired” dress shoes, and wondered if he really wasn’t going to let me in to see all my friends because he didn’t like my shoes.

What is the world coming to?

Is this what King West is all about?

“Forget the shoes,” I pleaded, how do you feel about the rest of my outfit?” I asked, somewhat facetiously, albeit somewhat inquisitively as well.

“Sir, I like the ensemble.  I think you look great, but it’s the shoes.  We can’t let you inside with those shoes; this is a high society establishment and we have a certain level of integrity to adhere to.”

Integrity, eh?

Alrighty, then.

So here is where I might sound like a hypocrite.

I also might sound like an ass, and while I want to be perfectly clear that I’m in no way attempting to brag about my wardrobe, I am trying to drive home my point as best as I can, and the ‘integrity’ of my story can only come with certain disclosures.

My outfit that night was not cheap.  I swear – I only own Diesel Jeans, Versace tees, and a Hugo Boss blazer because my next door neighbour works in the P.R. industry and routinely gets me 40% discount cards at these fine, over-priced clothing jaunts.

And I also only own these items because I have to.

If I want to attend my best friend’s birthday at Dolce, I can’t exactly show up in sweat-pants and say, “I’m sticking it to the man!  Down with the establishment!”

So I pointed out to the friendly door-man that my clothing (except for my Joe Boxer underwear and the socks I got at Winners) were perfectly suited to join the rest of the “high society” types that were already inside paying $9.50 for a drink.  I explained to him that my blazer was incredibly expensive and its “sporty” design went perfectly with my sport-inspired dress shoes.

I felt quite like Patrick Bateman as I explained to the headset-wearing, fingerless-glove-toting, roid-rager how I could easily have worn a cheap pair of $40 “dress shoes” that I got at Browns specifically to wear to bars where I know they’ll be mucked up on the dance floor and have liquor spilled on them all night, but alas, I decided to “dress up” by wearing my goddam Hugo shoes!!!

Denied.

He wasn’t hearing it.

You know those moments when about ten minutes worth of thoughts flow through your mind in the space of mere seconds?  That’s what I felt as I stood on the cold, lonely sidewalk on King West on Saturday night, picturing my friends inside (with dress shoes), having a good time, laughing, dancing, and loving life; simultaneously picturing myself tucking my tail in between my legs, getting in a cab, and going home.

My brow furrowed as I ran multiple scenarios through my head, most of which ended with me going home even more sour on the night-life our city has to offer.  Not for a second did I envision myself passing through those glorious velvet ropes and being given the privilege to spend $100 inside of a half hour.

But somebody in the night-club heavens was looking down on me that night, as the assistant manager poked his head out the door at the opportune moment.   I engaged him in a fictitious conversation which involved me picking up these “custom-designed,” “limited edition” Hugo Boss shoes in Paris on the Champs-Elysees over Christmas for 350 Euros.

He loved my story.  And he loved my seemingly expensive shoes.

Sometimes, it pays to be a good liar.

I actually picked up these shoes at the Hugo Boss “Friends & Family” sale in November for about 50% off the retail price.

I was allowed into the premises, but “only this one time.”  Next time, I was told, I’d better be wearing the proper footwear.

Once I paid the $20 cover charge and poked past twenty guys in suits that all looked the same, I walked into the glorified square-dance and realized that unless you were actually laying on the floor, there’s no way that anybody could tell what anybody else was wearing on their feet. It’s loud, dark, people are moving, and people’s worlds are spinning after ingesting all that alcohol.

So why all the fuss over my goddam shoes?

This is what King West has become all about.

It’s about the illusion of prestige, and the arbitrary rules that govern us in this social conformity, such as wearing a dressy shoe to a particular establishment, despite having no accuratley defined notion of “dressy.”

Some of my favorite condominiums are in the King West area, but it’s experiences like this one at Dolce that would sour me on living in the area.

Look, I have probably put 20-25 clients into the King West area, and I’m working with 5-6 buyers right now that have 66 Portland, Quad Lofts, Zen Lofts, and others atop their lists.  I love the buildings, I love the styles and the interior finishes, and I really do like the area.

I just hate the culture.

I hate the attitude.

And I hate the elitist mentality that takes over this beautiful neighbourhood once the sun goes down on a weekend.

Yes, I frequent these establishments.

Yes, I own the designer labels that I constantly mock on my blog.

But I’m a chameleon, attempting to take part in all that life has to offer, while not necessarily doing so by choice.

Peter Freed of Freed Developments has been quoted as saying that King West is going to be a $700 per square foot neighbourhood.  With the launch of his flagship “Thompson Residences,” his vision could eventually come to fruition.

So while King West real estate prices could continue to rise in value, and the area is still numero-uno for young people, it just doesn’t fit with my current lifestyle expectations and comfort level.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go polish my new dress shoes…

(CLICK HERE for the original blog post from 3/29/2010)

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6 Comments

  1. Addy Saeed

    at 11:05 am

    Great blog post!!! LOL @ polishing your dress shoes

    I agree wholeheartedly with you and find myself victim of such crimes at odd times of the year…

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. RPG

    at 11:37 am

    Even better the second time around! This was the post that got me hooked on your blog last year. I’d love to see a follow up post!

  3. Luke Lefneski

    at 2:13 pm

    awesome post! funny and captivating!
    very awesome.

    – luke from mtl

  4. Mike

    at 9:47 pm

    FYI: Dolce is dying a slow death. I think it’s only open one night per week. Perhaps they made the club a little TOO exclusive, no? They’d be begging to have you and your non dress shoes now.

  5. Matt

    at 1:32 pm

    When I was looking for a place to live, king west was out of the question.

    When I visit my friends’ places in that area I am always reminded by how stuffy it is. The 20-30 somethings (I’m 28) look you up and down as if to see whether you’re worthy of riding the elevator with them. Often I’m not. For I don’t own overly expensive clothing or shoes. And on weekends I wear plain t-shirts and, gasp, levis jeans.

    But instead of merely looking like I have money, I actually do have money. And also, thank god, a place on the east side.

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