PARTY ON: Three quirky (and decidedly cozy) venues to hang out, be seen, and get sweaty
Going Out

PARTY ON: Three quirky (and decidedly cozy) venues to hang out, be seen, and get sweaty

Spacing Out

The shortage of traditional concert venues in Ottawa and the space constraints of living in closet-sized Centretown apartments mean party people are finding new venues to hang out, be seen, and get sweaty

The party space at the Rochester Pub definitely channels that coveted 1970s rec room vibe. Photography by Rémi Thériault.

Kitchen Party at the Rochester Pub
It may be called Kitchen Party, but this spot definitely channels the rec-room vibe. The pub’s covered patio has low ceilings and wall panelling to rival any ’70s-era basement. Undergrads cram into the space to dance to the music of host DJs Hobo (Pawel Skorupski), Sweet Cheeks (Jose Palacios), and the guest DJ who usually spins an entire set of vinyl — with the occasional Serato trespass. This is where civil servants normally lunch during the week and where regulars head for brunch on the weekend. That easy vibe is extended to the evening crowd. When it’s time for the party, there is no great transformation. The tables and salt and pepper shakers are simply put aside.
Second Friday of the month. 502 Rochester St. $5.

Ceremony at the Ottawa Jail Hostel
This is where the last working gallows in Canada was located (when the hostel was known as the Carleton County Gaol), but none of the hip kids at this monthly event let that fact spoil the vibe. DJs Adam Saikaley, Eric Roberts, and Gary Franks, play post-disco and their own dance-floor-friendly edits of classic cuts. Attendees appreciate the stone walls and the barred windows, which amplify the backstory of the place. Want the feel of a jail experience? Then remove your over layers. The coat check is in the space formerly used for solitary confinement.
Last Saturday of the month. 75 Nicholas St. $5.


Spin City: Jose Palacios, aka DJ Sweet Cheeks, spins the tunes at a recent Kitchen party night at the Rochester Pub. Photography by Rémi Thériault.

Indie Night at GigSpace
Music teacher Elizabeth Bruce hosts this low-key showcase, which features Ottawa folk singers performing a short acoustic set. It’s followed by the open-mike portion, where the highly talented and the merely brave try out those tunes they’ve been poring over in bedrooms and coffee shops. The room is set up simply, with a riser, a piano, rows of chairs for the audience, and a self-serve tea station at the side. The line between the stage and the seats is barely demarcated, encouraging banter between performer and patron that leans toward the intimate. The vibe is like the GCTC’s Black Box Studio Theatre meets The Elbow Room.
Second Thursday of the month. Inside Alcorn Music Studios, 953 Gladstone Ave. $5.

This party space primer was featured in the May 2012 edition.