464 Spadina Ave.
Ambience: The El Mocambo and its iconic signage have stood near the corner of College and Spadina Streets since the 1940s when the bar was one of the top nightlife destinations in the city. Over the years, the El Mo has experienced a roller coaster ride of success and near destitution, peaking with its immense popularity between the 1970s and mid-1990s, down into bankruptcy, and with its current return to relevance, all the while playing host to a mix of stadium-filling and indie rock acts including the Rolling Stones. The venue seems to have found its footing once again after a successful renovation and has opened its arms to the best indie acts the city has to offer. Much like The Rivoli or The Horseshoe, the El Mocambo is a no-frills kind of venue where patrons are passionate about their music and could care less about intricate interior design or celebrity sightings. In this bar, relatively unknown musicians are the celebs.
Crowd: In-the-know students, hipsters and bohemian types who venture to the El Mo throughout the week for a fix of hard-edged rock, blues or jazz, depending on the night. Expect minimal attitude, except from those who take the stage (which is perfectly acceptable).
Dress code: Break out your vintage clothes and splash them with a healthy dose of irony. And if you’re wearing jeans, make sure they’re skin-tight to show off your vintage Chuck Taylors. Do you have Wayfarers? Wear those, too.
Will I get lucky?: You do stand a chance. This is a very welcoming crowd who warm to more than just the musicians playing on stage.
Should I dance on the bar?: Hell yeah!
Best reason to pay a visit: Because it’s not often you have the chance to support local artists and one of the city’s oldest clubs, just by stepping through the front door.
Cocktail du jour: Beer, shots of hard liquor and stiff mixed drinks are the preferred libations.
El Mo crowd welcoming