Why I Love Toronto Reason #196
Rockpile Bar & Nightclub sits awkwardly on the corner of Dundas Street West and East Mall Crescent (near highway 427) in a part of Etobicoke where you wouldn’t think to find a bar or nightclub. The Rockpile is the latest venture by Dominic Tassielli who was the manager of the former Big Bop Nightclub, which closed a few years back to make room for the CB2 (Reason #149). However, unlike the Big Bop (which i loved for the live music, but not its exterior), the Rockpile does not have a bright purple exterior, but rather it has a dark and black façade with barred windows. One may think at first glance that the building was abandoned just like the rest of the buildings in the area. For myself, the exterior is what kept me away, but I eventually learned that you should not judge a book by its cover.
The reason for the Rockpile’s dark and abandoned look is because the building is meant to mimic a prison. As soon as I walked through the door the bouncer encouraged me get my mug shot taken in front of the scope (which I later learned is what you call the background with the height measurements). Afterwards my journey began into the faux prison which featured a wall of celebrity mug shots that included the likes of Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Woody Harrelson and Marilyn Manson. The bathrooms are known and referred to by the regulars as Death Row and the coat check mimics a prison cell. Even along the back bar there is a fake barbed wire with plastic limbs tangled in them to re-enact the attempts of a prison break.
Since the venue is located in the suburbs it attracts mostly Etobicoke natives. However, as the venue continues to build a name for itself it is slowly attracting more people from other parts of Toronto and even Mississauga. The bar welcomes anyone 16+, but requires those under the age of 19 to be accompanied by an adult. Even though the club welcomes teenagers the dynamic of the ages works well and on any given night you can see teenagers mingling with the parents of the local bands who play there.
The bar sells ear plugs for those who cannot handle the power of rock. Like the Big Bop, the Rockpile is the place to see some great live bands which include small local acts, tribute bands, and bigger Canadian and international artists, like Redman and Swollen Members.
Even though the Rockpile is located at the end of the Bloor-Danforth line – a slight trek for all you downtown lovers - and is in an area that is mostly abandoned, I would still encourage you to check it out. As a downtown lover through and through, I can say I was pleasantly surprised by the great live music and how much fun I had.
That Is Why I Love Toronto