KINGS ON KING

By Viktoria Sciacca 

Promoters across Toronto have come to secure Toronto’s relatively new hip reputation with pop culture, booking rappers and athletes mainly for events on this particular street. “King Street definitely gives off a vibe, as it is the entertainment district,” says Vincent Alaimo, partner of club promoting company Revelry Group. “You have a variety of different night clubs and bars in the area from musical genre, to light shows, to style codes, to LGBTQ and heterosexual events.”hen the sun goes down, all the night crawlers come out to play. Where are they headed? To the alluring King Street West, of course. Known as the “controlled” party community, priding itself on exclusivity and secrecy, King Street West has become home to a slew of national celebrities and socialites. From Bathurst to Blue Jays Way, bouncers hide behind secret doors to a world unknown, and the key holders to the palace are the Toronto promoters– the ‘Kings of King’.

Revelry Group is the promotion company you need for your ticket to King mania. From keeping everyone up to date through events over social media or scoring the coveted booths beside the DJ, they’ve got you covered. Founders and real-life couple, Alaimo and Mimi Sarkis built Revelry upon years of promoting through all-ages and eventually working up to the big leagues. Revelry Group promotes for all major clubs on King including Door Three, F-Stop and EFS.

“If you aren’t familiar with any promoter or haven’t made friends with the bouncer – plain and simple, you’re not getting in,” says Sarkis.

Although the street stretches far, there are only a select number of clubs between Bathurst and Portland that are tailored to a particular crowd. Due to Drake’s regular appearances throughout the area, the street has drawn the average attention seeking, hip-hop cherishing, street-fashion blogging, high-brand wearing kind of person. Going to an event on King Street West is not only just a One Spot Stop, it’s a full blown night on the town. With dinner at Drake’s restaurant, Fring’s, where Lebron James hosted a legendary karaoke party a few months ago, then stop by Same nightclub to possibly meet the Toronto Raptors, and hit up Justin Bieber’s favorite club, Lost and Found later.

“Our passion combines creativity, style and innovation while creating an extraordinary piece of entertainment that captures our event attendees’ attention, surprises them and inspires them the way entertainment can,” Sarkis said. “In addition, we strongly believe that Lost and Found helps us accomplish our passion, it is the perfect fit for Revelry Group and its guests. Sometimes it’s about mixing the right ingredients for the perfect recipe! Ultimately, with Revelry Group hosting events at Lost and Found we believe it is one of the finer weekly events in Toronto.”

Lost and Found – by definition – a place where lost items are kept to await reclaiming by their owners. However, if you’re a 20-something from the GTA, you know that this trendy King Street spot is nothing short of an institution. Though gaining more and more popularity by the second, Toronto’s nightlife crowd has seen its fair share of clubs come and go, but it seems like “Lost” is here to stay. And the Kings of King Street are here to make sure of it.

IMG_2809Meet one of the most infamous kings of all: “Photo Will”.

Flashier (and classier) than the annoying all-ages promoter you once knew in high school, William Nguyen is the mastermind behind all things “Lost”. To call him just a promoter would be both offensive and inaccurate. Nguyen is cultural curator of the club, friends with the “6ix God”, Drake, and has his hands in a number of successful Toronto-based companies including the celeb-worn clothing company Get Fresh on Queen Street. One visit to the venue will show you the big difference between a promoter for a nightclub and Will’s relationship with Lost and Found – if you can get in, that is.

From the outside looking in, it may sound bourgeois to the unknown but Nguyen assures it’s nothing personal. “You have to understand that Lost has a capacity of only 200 people,” says Nguyen. “If it were bigger we would obviously let more people in but a part of the specialness of it is the fact that it’s so small because when you get in it’s tiny and there’s 500 people lining up outside and you’re part of the 200 that made it in.” However, it’s crucial to be a part of Nguyen’s friend- and work-base in order to secure a spot.

“I think it’s just who you work with, and I think everyone thinks (Lost is) so clique-ish but there’s just particular people you need to be with often,” Nguyen said. “Sometimes I need to work with so-and-so and eventually we become friends because we have so much in common; we’re after the same goal, we’re supporting each other’s pursuits. So in that regard, it becomes clique-ish but I don’t think it’s a ‘screw you’ it’s just that I don’t have time if you can’t be in favour.”

Think of it as getting a pair of Yeezy’s, Kanye West’s coveted pair of shoes in the hip-hop community; It may not be that one isn’t cool enough, it is just networking with the right people to score yourself that ticket.

“Think of it as an art show. Every sense needs to be satisfied, whether it be the visual, the music, lighting scheme, and colours,” says Nguyen. “When we’re doing a night, I see it as a curation of art, you want good music, good vibes, the lighting has got to be right, the crowd is right, the hosts are right and your company is right. After we sort the tables out, what’s missing? Usually it’s the women so sometimes the cap hits and what do you do? We can’t accommodate people of no use to our show.”

Nguyen can often be spotted in a photo among the city’s most elite doing what he does best: throwing one hell of a party.IMG_7965

Lost. Nguyen says, allows people to share an amazing experience. “It’s not just like, ‘yeah let’s get wasted’ – No, it’s a celebration. We work hard all week and we would like to let loose in our own way. But I don’t feel like I’m the promoter where I come to the party and I’m just hiding in a corner and don’t talk to anyone. Not at all. I walk around, shake everyone’s hand, and say welcome,” he said. “Whether you’ve come directly or indirectly to see me, if you didn’t come to see me personally then you’ve come to see what I have created and in that way I owe you something for coming out.”

What a celebration it is. Nguyen exclusively promotes for the craziest night in TO, Lost Mondays. Champagne popping, celebrity spotting and camera lights flashing makes one feel like royalty and it’s just the start of the week. The newly married father of one, somehow seamlessly juggles` the demands of the Toronto night scene. A regular day in the life of Will is anything but ordinary. The club is so set on maintaining relevance; they have their very own house photographer who also happens to promote for the club because of his popularity.

Chris Reign, event photographer and founder of Reign Photography, typically shoots clubs on King Street West for a specific reason. Reign could be seen hitting up EFS, and the relatively new The Addisons, a Malibu-beach house inspired lounge. Prior to shooting exclusively on King Street West, Reign could be seen on Richmond and Adelaide, a completely different setting. “King Street is more controlled,” says Reign. “There’s more of a door restriction, it’s kind of similar to a secret society which is what I like because they let in the select few.”

By ‘select few’ Reign explains that the hottest of the hottest “business owners, popular bloggers, people of the upper class” could be seen at these public spaces. Meeting these types of clients has given Reign an opportunity to be one of the most famous Toronto photographers on Instagram, with an Instagram following of almost 20,000 and a permanent spot at Toronto’s hottest club.

“Lost and Found has definitely made a huge dent and annihilated the city in terms of every week, there’s a (celebrity) name,” says Reign. “A lot of times celebrities will just show up, without being paid, just to have a good time.” Reign recalls Justin Bieber as being one of the best hosts at Lost due to his interaction with guests at the club, and often performing for them as well. “Shoutout to Lost and Found and everyone who’s a part of that whole group because there is no place like Lost and Found in the city.”

Thanks to upcoming names and faces in Toronto, the spot to be is right down the street. Make sure you snag yourself a golden ticket, and meet your king.

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