tunes - issue 418


Wanton in the wild, wild west
In Toronto’s wild west, there exists a very special kind of party. It doesn’t happen every month, its most requested songs are Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and Loretta Lynn’s “Fist City” (a gay anthem in more ways than one), and sometimes, if you’re lucky, there are assless chaps.

This legendary hoedown was born in the summer of 2008 after DJ Sigourney Beaver (aka Miss Lauren Hortie) and her friend Josh Goodbaum attended a show at The Dakota Tavern. The downstairs bar feels like a western movie set and, after spotting a few friendly dykes, Beaver said, “You know what this city needs? A gay country and western night.” Goodbaum added, “Dolly Parton should host.” Together they exclaimed, “It should be called Steers & Queers!” The rest, as they say, is like Jake Gyllenhaal naked on a leather saddle in the rain: perfection.

“I love country music, and what I try hard to do with Steers & Queers is walk that fine line between irony and also genuinely loving it. Paying it tribute without letting it fall into parody,” says Beaver. With baby dykes slinging toy guns and big, burly bullwrangling daddies in Levis and Stetsons, Steers & Queers is always a spectacle. “If you dress up you’ll drink more and have more fun,” says Beaver. “It’s like you’re investing in the party and more willing to stay out on a Thursday night. I don’t think it’s possible to be snobby with country music.”

Beaver, who DJs the hoedown with Joe Blow, (from west-end indie-queer party Trashed), is proud that her friendly ranch-romp was once graced by the presence of another lady who likes to play dress-up. “I was playing and this woman came up and said, ‘Does the DJ mind if we sit behind here?’ I looked up and it was this short woman with a really extreme haircut, and I was like, ‘You can sit wherever you want.’ It was fucking Peaches,” Beaver gushes. “Yes, Peaches. You can sit on my face!”

There is also always a show. Highlights include sometimes-host Lex Vaughn encouraging the audience to teabag gayby Jesus at the Christmas party, Miss Conception hosting as a very busty and ballsy Dolly Parton, line-dancing lessons, and a Keith Cole wedding ceremony that included a campfire sing-along to “Something to Talk About.”

Mixing old-time western favourites on vinyl with new-country dance hits (this crowd is really gonna love Shania’s comeback), Beaver tries to please every city slicker and country bumpkin packed into the sassy saloon. “I’d say 75 percent of my gay friends are not from Toronto,” she says. “I grew up in the boonies and was 19 before I even took a public bus. There’s that exodus; there are a lot of expats from the country. Maybe the best compliment I ever got was from a girl who told me, “I’m from Saskatoon, and if everything was right in the world, this would be Saturday night.”

The next Steers & Queers is on Thurs, Feb 24 at The Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Ave.

Get into the niche

Craving a specific type of party this winter? The west end is full of them. Check the Gay Agenda or for the dates.

Goth and drag: Get Marilyn Mansoned at The Beaver and sway to new wave, industrial and goth.

Fit: Get fit and have fun at this sporty/sweaty house party at The Beaver. Snakepit: The new Wednesday night queer dance party. Hump Day gets hammered at the Hen House.

Gayfinity: Dancehall, disco, house and gay beats for a good cause every month at Naco.

Tapette: A French fag dance party. Bouge de lŕ with Serge, Céline and Daft Punk hits at Naco.

Big Primpin’: Hip hop for homos. Legendary party with lots of fashion, moves and fly-ness at Wrongbar.

Mooseknuckle Disco: Laid-back disco favourites on a Monday night while you mingle at Sweaty Betty’s.

Cocksucker Blues: Cute boys. Great oldies. Rock, punk, glam and disco tracks from the ’60s to today at Parts and Labour.

Phil Villeneuve

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