Last Friday night I dropped by The Duke, a red brick Leslieville landmark built in 1870 and an historic night spot that offers 5 dollar pints, karaoke, sports TV, open pool tables, and claims of a great kitchen backed up by the sight of several generous servings seen sliding past on their way to delivery!

At 1225 Queen St. East, The Duke is situated on the 24 hour ttc streetcar line, since in a way, the rest of the city grew around it. I had no idea what was going on inside, only that I was determined to attend the opening night of Mixology Fridays, a new event by DJ Relentless, the ever-dedicated DJ talent Alphonso King Jr. Alphonso will be there every week and will be featuring new talent in the persons of DJ Pluto and DJ Lilly Russner, two upcoming DJs that he has chosen to make up his team. After 35 years in the business, Alphonso, once himself a young DJ apprentice to Walter Winston, is now a mature artist committed to the tradition of mentor in the craft.

When I arrived at The Duke, I was introduced to the owner, George, who was adjusting the sound system in advance of the night’s event. George is a cool person, and sent a drink to my table with a welcoming manner that is typical of the mood in The Duke. Booking Agent for The Duke Donna Riddle was also there that night, as were a number of cheerful regulars and two chill but competent-looking security guards the place keeps on hand. As I had arrived early, I was able to watch as intrigued locals of various ages began to filter in and take spots where they could absorb DJ Relentless, who was spinning his excellent blend of sounds from the stage while DJ Pluto danced nearby.

The music was solid, the sound system was great, there are excellent laser lights animating the dance space, and, did someone say? NO COVER! Also, the place is accessible, as one of the very first dancers was a young woman in a wheelchair (the dance floor is accessible also) who set the upbeat mood and chatted with the talent. There is also plenty of parking behind the venue and there was room for a lot more people on the dance floor, as it was just the first night.

If you are unfamiliar with the sort of music DJ Relentless spins, it is highly danceable mixes and samples perfectly blended.. As I mentioned, DJ Relentless has been doing this work for 35 years now and is not to be missed. Loud enough to increase the amperage of conversation if you are near the front, it is hooky enough to make you want to move and groove instead of talk. The Duke offers $4 Jaggermeister and Jameson Irish Whiskey shots, a great price which also may have remained unchanged since 1870. In essence, it was incredibly nice to encounter such progressive energy at a bar which has provided a local watering hole for almost 150 years to all sorts of Leslieville/East End locals through all sorts of historical moments.

Keeping the momentum high, DJ Pluto will spin occasionally, and DJ Relentless will be there as well each and every Friday. So anyone in the area who wants to drop by and enjoy a dope blast of ultra-cool sounds in the East End will find it easy to get to, as will anyone who just wants to hop on the 501 Queen St. streetcar from downtown.

Things are just getting rolling in this series, as further on in the month, and copying my text from their own advertising here, “Relentless Entertainment and The Duke are proud to present DRAG DIVAS LIVE! It’s going to be a night of LIVE performances by Toronto’s very own Stevie Nicks impersonator, Crystal Visions, New York City transplant recording artist, Jade Elektra and Canada’s outrageous recording artist, Divinesque!”

Not to be missed, IMHO. I haven’t seen Crystal Visions yet, but Jade Electra is a powerhouse onstage and a commanding performer. While Mixology Fridays is totally free, the upcoming show on the 26th will have a modest cover, as tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Doors will open at 8:30 for those who want to order a little food at The Duke, while showtime is 9:30 PM. Also unique are cocktails at DRAG DIVAS LIVE, which will feature specialty drinks named after the stars of the evening!

So if you are in a mood to party or to simply have your spirits lifted by some talented people, hop over to Mixology Fridays, a mix of great dance music and laid-back atmosphere! Coming right up, plan to attend DRAG DIVAS LIVE by buying tix @! You won’t regret it!

About the Author

SK Dyment has been a cartoonist and illustrator for many years and has been published in over two dozen Canadian indy magazines and journals. SK loves sketching passing interpretations of intriguing people in pen-and-ink, and is often seen attending various activist-oriented events around Toronto. He is also available for quick illustrations of all sorts as well as more serious forms of illustration. SK Dyment maintains a website @