Pulling into the parking lot feels like a scene from the early 1950s.
But it’s a Saturday night, just across the water from downtown Toronto.
Located at 20 Polson Street, INK Entertainment recently launched its CityView Drive-In venue.
INK Entertainment, parent company to Rebel, Cabana Pool Bar, Toybox, and others, have a massive new theatre space in Rebel’s giant parking lot.
While it may not sound like much, this is the parking lot to be in the city – with sprawling skyline and CN Tower views.
Since July 17, the space has hosted two outdoor concerts at the city’s newest concert and entertainment venue, which will generally have live music, movie nights, and a slew of other events. Allan Rayman performed on July 18, on what turned out to be a perfect summer night that included that cool lake-side breeze.
And while it’s just started out, organizers have had two successful events, where crowds respected the spacing, stayed in their designated areas, and showed excitement by honking horns – aka the screaming and clapping of 2020 post-pandemic.
CityView is described as entirely contactless experience in the heart of Toronto’s docklands.
The drive-in is designed to host more than 200 vehicles in reserved parking spots, a minimum of seven feet apart, so that guests can enjoy live entertainment from the 238-foot stage and three large LED screens from the comfort — and safety — of their cars.
Upon arrival, guests obtain their parking information and are guided to their spots. A wristband is handed out so that guests can enter Rebel for washroom use – yes, the bathrooms are not outdoors, thankfully.
Because cars are spaciously spread out, the stage is clear from most angles in the giant lot. When parked, guests aren’t to exit their cars unless going to the bathroom. The contactless experience includes concessions and merchandise that are available for online purchase and delivery straight to your car.
Of note, the venue is alcohol-free. So there’s no booze on the menu.
While parked, the evening’s music lovers are provided with a designated FM radio frequency to tune in from their cars without needing to lower their windows.
But this past weekend, most of the physically distanced concert-goers listened to Allan Rayman’s show through the venue’s sound system.
Throughout the night, the crowd sang in their cars, and often honked after each track – a way to show appreciation for Rayman, who is from Toronto.
For many, a drive-in movie may be a new concept to get used to. But a drive-in concert, it is, perhaps, even stranger to imagine.
But for a city being safe while providing entertainment, the concept is one that works, especially when we have the views (and sunsets) that we do in Toronto.
Looking ahead, August 6 will bring electronic music group A Tribe Called Red. The group offers a “modern gateway into urban and contemporary Indigenous culture and experience, celebrating all its layers and complexity.”
When: Various nights
Where: 2o Polson Street