By: Ryley Chorowiec
It's not just a phase Mom...
Sneaky Dee’s, Located at Toronto’s College and Bathurst streets, is one of the cities most infamous music venues. Occasionally described as a modern day CBGB’s, Sneaks is home to world class tex mex, local music, cheap beer, and for the last three years, Homesick’s Emo Nite. Homesick is a weekly club night instalment that occurs every Friday at Sneaky Dee’s. Music curated by Homesick’s resident DJ Alex Payne ranges from pop punk, hardcore, and all the nostalgic tracks.
As a devoted fan to Metal and Punk Rock, I realized my attendance at Emo Nite was long overdue. Coming in from the cold, you get through security and enter the toasty, gloomy abyss. As my nose adjusts to the faint stench of stale beer, I walk up a staircase filled with posters for local shows. I soon find myself standing flat-footed, in one of the craziest parties I have seen in a very long time.
Theres already an active mosh pit taking place while other skate-rats bounce around the stage, seemingly to be working as homesick’s personal hypemans. A bit odd? Sure, but that’s exactly why I came here. I realized I’ll need a beer before I do anything else, as I was a bit too sober for what was happening.
Prices are good: $4.25 for typical bar rail and bottled beers before midnight, $5.25 afterwards. I’m not picky when it comes to what I'm drinking at a dance party like this, but if you’re looking for premium beers or liquor, be prepared to pay a little more.
Satisfied, with a beer in both hands, I decide to make my way towards the stage to see if I can have a chat with the DJ. When asked what Homesick is all about, Alex said:
“Homesick is a place where we can all embrace the music we used to get laughed at for listening to. This is the music that shaped me growing up, and homesick allows a safe space for everyone to enjoy and celebrate this music together.”
Since 2015, Homesick has done exactly that. By welcoming anyone and everyone to the party, Homesick’s Emo Nite is likely one of the most demographically diverse bars you’ve ever attended. This was confirmed to me once I witnessed a seemingly innocent young man in an Abercrombie t-shirt ignite a game of tonsil hockey with a girl wearing fish nets and combat boots. As I struggled to walk around the two new lovers I couldn't help but think to myself that I just potentially witnessed two completely different worlds collide through the power of music. Regardless, it is very clear to me that this bar is bringing people together in one form or another.
I soon decide that I didn’t wear my dancing shoes for nothing, and I better go do my thing. The music is loud, and mostly what I was hoping to hear. DJ Alex Payne allows her creativity to flourish by creating all of her sets on the fly, reading the vibes of the room to choose the next track. Homage was often paid to a few hometown heroes like Billy Talent, Alexisonfire, and Silverstein. Sneaky Dee’s always supports local music, so it’s no surprise that Jordan Black of Like Pacific was guest DJing alongside Alex following his set earlier that night at The Hard Luck Bar.
Classic early 2000’s tracks like Panic! At the Disco’s “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” and My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome to the Black Parade” had everybody in the room moshing along, while tracks like Bring Me the Horizon’s “Shadow Moses” invited spin kicks and flying limbs. Even some unsuspecting guilty pleasures such as 3oh!3’s “Don’t Trust Me” were a bop.
A few pints later, after a failed crowd surfing attempt and working on a few spin kick moves of my own, I decided it was time to take a break. I headed down to the smokers area outside of the venue to try and better understand what it is that brings people back here every weekend. I stumbled around outside for about half an hour, asking everyone I could find one question;
Why are you here and not somewhere else?
“This shit is crazy. We do not have this in Egypt”-Yamen
“It’s actually my first time, my friends are like…super hardcore. y’know? ” - Sierra
“Good beer, Good friends, Good music, Good times.”-Steve
“Because i’m truly a scene kid at heart, the drinks are super cheap, and I can wear whatever the fuck i want”-Megan
“I keep coming back pretty much every Friday because Homesick is where I go to sing and dance, hangout with new and old friends, and pay tribute to the era of music that really shaped my life into what it is today. Sneaks has definitely become my home of nostalgia for high school memories through the music. Ive played shows here, and its always an awesome room to be in.” -Vijay
By the end of the night I had realized that this is much more than a weekly event. This is a community. A community that gather every week to drink themselves halfway to death, blow off steam, and express themselves in a way they may not be able to any other day of the week. My kind of community.
Homesick has branched out to numerous cities across Ontario. They have monthly installments in Oshawa and London, while also making pop up appearances in Kingston and Ottawa. It seems as though the community surrounding these genres of music is not only large and ever-growing, but seriously devoted to keeping the scene alive. Maybe you appreciate that, maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re just looking for a place to drink. If I can tell you anything for sure, its that this is the place to go for one wild night.
Cover: $10 after 11PM
Bars: 2 ( secondary bar located on side stage)
Music: Pop Punk, Metalcore, Posthardcore, Alternative
Favourite Tracks: Coheed & Cambria - A Favor House Atlantic
The Used- The Bird and the Worm
Jimmy Eat World - The Sweetness
Give me a follow on the gram, and stay tuned for some more nights out on the blog.