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 fabmagazine.com 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.