Start the weekend early: Ottawa gets down on Thursday nights

Photo credit: Pesbo via Flickr

‘Chris Clark’ works in PR by day and sings soul music by night. She is an Ottawa enthusiast, a terrible dancer, a Centretown hipster and loves to talk all about culture in the capital. 

We’ve all heard it before: Ottawa is where culture goes to die. Bigger metropolises look down their noses at us and out-of-towners lament about yet another business trip to Ottawa expecting only the sterility of the Delta, politics and CBC radio. But little do they know, behind the dull reputation lies a city bursting with interesting things to do.

Oh yes, friends, our fair Capital is too quickly labeled a snore. She may be a lady in the streets, but she’s a freak in the sheets!

Today I’m tackling Thursday. Thursday is Ottawa’s Friday night, much to the chagrin of all of us day-job types. And tonight, October 20th, there’s a plethora of amazing things to do.


You could enjoy pickles and vodka with Buckman Coe, a handsome folk crooner, at Avant-Garde. Or if you’re looking for something a wee bit spicier, you could warm up with Caridad Cruz at the Mercury Lounge. If jazz is more your thing, you’ll find Lina Allemano blowing her horn to the clink of pint glasses at the Blacksheep Inn but if you’d prefer to jam/rock, you could head over to The Rainbow for the Reggae with Roots Movement.


Feeling emotional? You could head on over to Cafe Nostalgica for some open mic poetry. Or since the Rockabilly scene is alive and well here in Ottawa, you could oggle some pin-ups at the Atomic Rooster‘s live music Rockabilly night. But wait! There’s more? You betcha.


I am a fantastic dancer … OK, not true; I’m terrible. But at least I give it my spastic all and there’s nothing I enjoy more than dancing it up in my city. Thursday is essentially the collective urban night here in Ottawa. Zaphods will be busting the hits you forgot, but love to remember, Ritual will be playing that Drop it Like its Hot brand of Hip Hop (with some crazy Epic Meal Time cooks upstairs) and DJ NDN will be bringing the flavour at Standard Tavern. Even pubs like the Brig can usually be found playing Old Skool bangers on a Thursday night.


But the real spot to dance, in my opinion, is undeniably down in the basement of Mercury Lounge @ the Overkill bar, where DJ Magnificent’s Double
Barrel is happening. Its a fantastic night of all vinyl 45 Motown, Funk, Soul and Reggae hits. The beer is cheap, the door is free and the people get down!

Man, I feel like it’s that scene in Dirty Dancing where the great Patrick Swayze returns to the resort to utter: “Nobody puts baby in a corner!” and then everyone wildly breaks out into dance like some primordial flashmob. I’m Swayze and Baby is Ottawa. Now get out there and enjoy your city tonight!


Wow! Thanks for your lively post, Chris. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more …