1980s, Alternative, Dance Music, Goth, Industrial, New Wave, Punk

Then & Now: Nuts & Bolts

September 22, 2014
Drag legend Divine at Nuts & Bolts, March 1987. With Nuts & Bolts regulars Lynette and Sherri.

Divine (centre) with Nuts & Bolts regulars Lynette and Sherri, 1987. Photo courtesy of David Heymes.

Article originally published December 14, 2011 by The Grid online. Admittedly, it was difficult to research this club’s earliest years and contributors. As a result, a number of  details originally included were inaccurate or incomplete, as pointed out in comments from a number of Grid readers. Some details have been updated as a result. This story will be further researched and developed for the Then & Now book.

In the latest instalment of her nightlife-history series, Denise Benson takes us back to a time when the edge of the Ryerson campus served as a breeding ground for Toronto’s alternative-scene explosion.


Club: Nuts & Bolts, 277 Victoria St.

Years of operation: 1980-1988 [Original article stated 1977 - 1988]

Nuts & Bolts logo

History: In many ways, fabled alternative bar Nuts & Bolts was one of Toronto’s most unlikely dance-club success stories. Housed in the basement of a six-storey office building on the edge of Ryerson University’s campus, Nuts & Bolts was owned by Frank Cutajar, also proprietor of the All-Star Eatery, located on the ground floor of the same building.

According to all I spoke with and based on my own experiences—my first professional DJ gigs in Toronto were at Cutajar’s gay/alt club Showbiz, located around the corner, upstairs at 3 Gould St.—Frank was far from cutting-edge or visionary in his approach to running clubs. But he hired wisely.

It seems Nuts & Bolts’ first manager, Ed Jandrisits, was heavily responsible for the bar’s post-punk lean as he, in turn, hired a new-wave-loving staff. Jandrisits set the tone for the venue’s family vibe, with a great number of its bartenders, DJs and other staff—including infamous doorman Henry, who greeted people as they made their way down a dark staircase and through double metal doors—remaining at the club for years, often in a variety of jobs.

David Heymes, with Philip Brown in background. Photo courtesy of David Heymes.

David Heymes, with Philip Brown in background. Photo courtesy of David Heymes.

One such example is David Heymes, an early Nuts & Bolts customer hired by Jandrisits to do lights and then to DJ multiple nights per week between 1978-80.

“Nuts & Bolts was a very cool underground place at the time,” Heymes recalls. “Only Domino Klub on Isabella was playing the same music. Bolts was also a very unique place where people came together and did not judge others.”

Open six-to-seven nights weekly for most of its lifespan, Bolts had staying power thanks to the energy of its staff, loyalty of its new music–seeking audience and creative vision of subsequent managers, including Art Gilewski and Heymes, who took over the role when Gilewski departed in 1985.

Nuts & Bolts regular Debi Tobar (left) with friend. Photo courtesy of Debi Tobar.

Nuts & Bolts regular Debi Tobar (left) with friend. Photo courtesy of Debi Tobar.

Why it was important: Throughout its history, Nuts & Bolts was a gathering point for a variety of outsiders—punks, new wavers, house heads, goths, gays, bisexuals, artists and others. In sync with the downtown culture of its time, Bolts opened soon after David Marsden took the helm at CFNY (now 102.1 the Edge) and developed it into a true alternative-music station under its famous “spirit of radio” banner. The club and the radio station were parallel entities, with Nuts & Bolts then one of the only licensed spaces in Toronto where people could dance to songs like The Vibrators’ “Disco in Moscow” or The Normal’s “Warm Leatherette.” As a result, patrons visited the club religiously.

Nuts & Bolts regulars. DJ Iain, tallest, at back. Photo courtesy of David Heymes.

Nuts & Bolts regulars. DJ Iain, tallest, at back. Photo courtesy of David Heymes.

“The crowds at Bolts were always incredibly diverse,” recalls Iain McPherson, a.k.a. DJ Iain, who got his professional start spinning Wednesdays and then weekends at the club in the mid ’80s. “There were punks, fashionistas, skinheads, university preppies, goths and so on, and yet there were hardly ever any fights, despite the fact that we were drawing on groups of people who, in other situations, often did not get along well.”

Jason Fox modeling for Leather X. Photo courtesy of him.

Jason Fox modeling for Leather X. Photo courtesy of him.

“What made Nuts & Bolts stand out from the other clubs was its cohesive alt-community,” agrees Philip Brown, another musically adventurous DJ who developed his reputation playing first at Domino and then as a resident at Bolts. Brown brought his blends of ska, reggae, new wave and dance-punk to the club for three years, beginning in 1985.

“Musically, we were all about a great mix of styles, with enough flexibility to keep everyone entertained, rather than creating musically compartmentalized theme nights,” says Brown. “If you went to Bolts, you were open to all of the subs of subculture, and moved forward as music and style changed, rather than staying stuck in a particular place and time.”

Similarly, the club itself was treated to renovations in the mid-’80s that put signature characteristics in place, namely Nuts & Bolts’ two-tiered stainless steel dancefloor—slippery when wet, but crazy fun to dance on—complete with lights built right in and neon lighting above. The soundsystem was upgraded, the large load-bearing columns were painted a faux marble and local artists including Fiona Smyth and Kurt Swinghammer decorated parts of the club with original murals.

Manager Art Gilewski was a driving force through many of the changes and is frequently credited with helping to revive Nuts & Bolts as attendance began to dip about seven years into its existence. Gilewski hired DJs—including both Brown and McPherson—who constantly looked forward and heavily influenced the next decade of Toronto’s downtown “alternative” nightlife as they did so. McPherson also played a significant role in connecting alt, industrial and early rave audiences.

Varoshi Fame’s Jon Christian, Philip Brown and Deborah Forbes. Photo courtesy of Philip Brown.

Varoshi Fame’s Jon Christian, Philip Brown and Deborah Forbes. Photo courtesy of Philip Brown.

Who else played there: Nuts & Bolts explored and exploded with a rotating roster of local DJs. Some played there for mere weeks or months, others for years at a time, so to list them all is impossible. Early residents included Jeffrey LeClair and Ivar Hamilton. A DJ named Tom Brown did a rockabilly night. Stephen Scott famously DJed on Thursdays during the run of popular weekly Ballroom Blitz. Ivan Palmer held down Sundays for good chunk of 1985. House and dance music DJ Chris Torella—of the Starsound Records shop on Yonge and influential monthly music magazine Streetsound—anchored Nuts & Bolts’ weekends for a stretch. Community radio host and deeply knowledgeable sonic warrior Chris Twomey presented Toronto’s first industrial music specialty night on Sundays.

“He was always edgy,” recalls McPherson. “Twomey’s music was incredibly controversial, as were his amazing videos; it was stuff you would never see elsewhere.”

Flyer for Divine at Nuts & Bolts, 1987

Flyer for Divine at Nuts & Bolts, 1987

And though its sightlines were far from ideal, Nuts & Bolts hosted occasional live performances, most notably by both Divine and Front 242 in 1987, as part of the club’s 10-year celebrations.

“We had our regular cashier act as the hostess for Front 242’s green room when they came to play,” McPherson shares. “She ended up marrying the lead singer and moving to Belgium with him.”

Pointedly political industrial/noise band Varoshi Fame—of which both Phillip Brown and David Heymes were members for a period—also played Bolts a number of times.

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What happened to it: From the mid-’80s on, as alternative music became far more popular and accessible, Toronto saw licensed clubs such as The Copa, RPM, The Dance Cave, Silver Crown, Boom Boom Room, Tazmanian Ballroom and others open and include alt theme nights in their lineups. Nuts & Bolts now had far more competition, as audiences began to follow specific DJs or music genres rather than sticking to one or two favourite haunts.

Profits were down and the lease at 277 Victoria came up for renewal in 1987; as none of Frank Cutajar’s existing businesses were thriving at the time, he closed the All-Star Eatery and moved Nuts & Bolts to 3 Gould in 1988, morphing it with Showbiz, where the club faded over time.

Heymes went on to bartend at The Copa and then to manage 1990s alt-club the Lizard Lounge, where he worked with Brown, McPherson, Paul Talan and other core staff.

The basement and ground floor of 277 Victoria St. remained empty for some time and became a Second Cup location after construction from 1988-90 added five more storeys to the office building. Later, with an eye towards development of Yonge-Dundas Square and the surrounding area, there were plans in place to demolish the building and build a 45-floor hotel. Today, 277 Victoria is home to Toronto Public Health, housing a variety of offices and departments.

Upstairs at 3 Gould Street, the former club space went on to house a variety of retailers before Salad King restaurant expanded to two floors. The heritage building at Yonge and Gould was destroyed in a fire on Jan. 3 of this year. It has since been demolished.

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  • Reply Stephen SENIOR October 8, 2023 at 9:45 pm

    I had left the UK during a semester break and stayed with my DAD in Scarborough. The nightclub scene was fab . People were lovely and adventurous .
    Dont recall any brawls except maybe the one jackass who took exception to being stamped on his wrist . Entered the club late and left in the morning
    and straight up to FRANS Restaurant for Breakfast. A weekend ritual for a while. Toronto was special in the 80s. Most people were very kind and thoughtful and the TTC WAS great. Miss the period a lot. ALAS Toronto has changed !!!

  • Reply Sue dawe January 30, 2023 at 2:47 pm

    Had the best time working on the bar at Nuts and bolts for a short time the music, vibe and clothing was amazing and the dance floor outstanding. Guys with spike blonde hair and nice suits looking like Sting from the movie Quadrophenia. Girls dressed to the 9ns in black very short dresses fish net stockings stiletto heels how we could
    dance in them all night I have no idea and the moves where very energetic and suave. What a wonderful time in life we had it was so good back then kids today have no idea and missing out on so much culture of our time. Glad I was apart of it. Working from noon until 530am then going to China town or the Pearl for cold tea and food. I was the short blonde behind the bar.

    • Reply Big Julie March 10, 2023 at 11:24 am

      Just heard the sad news thar FRANK CUTAJAR, Founder and owner of N & B and All Star Eatery , a great friend for many of us , passed away this week…. He was a true visionary and entrepreneur in the hospitality business …. R I P

      • Reply Judy Ruffolo March 10, 2023 at 12:29 pm

        Oh dear…I really was hoping to talk to him again. He spoiled us rotten at the beginning of the club. Such a memorable time in my life!

        • Reply Lennart B. Sandelin March 10, 2023 at 12:48 pm

          Oh, sorry to hear that, even though I probably never met him. I was a one night tourist visitor, early January of 1986, after visiting my relatives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. After that I crossed over the boarder and into the US and sadly haven’t been back in Canada since (or yet… ;)).

  • Reply Lennart B. Sandelin November 4, 2022 at 12:19 pm

    How very refreshing to finally see an article about this place, which have forever stayed in my memory. I am from Sweden and was, in mid-January 1986 visiting Nuts&Bolts, while staying in Toronto over the weekend. It was referred to me, following my question ”where can I find a cool place/bar?”. I remember it exactly as described and they played The B 52’s ”Love Shack”, when I was ordering something at the bar. Probably a Long Island Icetea… ;)
    At the time I was ”a synth person”, listening to Simple Minds and such and I really loved the place. Back in Sweden I was a freelance DJ and had ambitions to work as such in the States. It never happened, due to work permit and tedious rules like that. Alas! ;)
    Once again, thanks for a great article that finally have given me info about this great club.

  • Reply cory Grafstein June 21, 2021 at 7:12 am

    I used to work at Nuts and Bolts .
    As a dishwasher.to be honest I was not there long enough but reading all of these comments I sure missed out.it was electric to say the least punk was in vouge I was not in to it.cool place nonetheless keep on rocking.

  • Reply Lori Anne Oldfield March 19, 2021 at 12:46 am

    I was just listening to Top 500 New Wave songs on Youtube. All of a sudden I got a wave of nostalgia and decided to goggle Nuts and Bolts and look what I found!! Awesome. Heres my little bit of history be it what it may. We used to hang out at the Piccadilly(sp?) Tube just across on the other side of Yonge Street. My best friend and I usually did the cover charge at the front door of the Tube every weekend. We hung out and partied with the doormen after hours. When we learned the Tube would be closing we were crushed. Where we go? One of the doormen got a job at a new club opening up over on Victoria St. Only catch it was going to be a New Wave club. So he got us (the 2 girls only of course) invites to the grand opening. Well we just loved the culture and the club sooo much we were hooked. Every Friday and Saturday night without fail we were there sometimes even on a weeknight as I worked downtown so what the heck. I embraced the punk fashion and way of life got right into it. I was a up and coming makeup artist so of course that was right up my alley. Siouxsie and the Banshees were my fav. I took every opportunity to copy her makeup. My best friend loved the club and the music but she stayed true to herself. She was just a natural beauty didnt need makeup but man could she dance. And drink wow could we drink!!!! We were there so much we eventually always had the first round booth in front of the dance floor reserved for us. No longer did we have to get there an hour before it opened to get our favourite table. We waltzed in right past the lineup and sat at our special reserved table!!! Who the heck did we think we were? But it did feel pretty special. We always had the same waitress so when it was so loud she’d just look at us to see if we needed more beer. Must have been why we drank ex you just held up an x sign and a 2 made with had signals lol. We eventually switched to Black Label well cause that was the punk thing to do. She was a great waitress and like someone else previously commented there were never any problems not like the bar brawls that used to happen at the Piccaddilly Tube or the Gasworks. I remember when one of our favourite songs would come on like “Turning Japanese” we would scream and run from wherever we were in the club to that amazing dance floor and go crazy. How I could dance that ska like dance step in 5″ steletos Ill never know cant even walk in them anymore lol. My collection of beautiful shoes just sit sadly on display. You didnt wait for someone to ask you to dance hell know you liked a song up you went it was not unusual in any way to be up there dancing with yourself. I believe I even won a Halloween Costume Contest. I dressed up as Tim Currys character from Rocky Horror Show (horrible his name escapes he duh). The Piccadilly Tube was on its last couple of weekends. Our buddies the doormen from the tube just could not understand why we preferred to be over there at what they called that freak club. The best was that it didnt close what? until 5 a.m. if I remember correctly. Boy I had some fun rides on the TTC bus running up Yonge Street people would stare at me like what they heck did you just crawl out from under lol. Too on the way there on the subway I took great delight in the fact that my punk costume hey would keep everyone from sitting anywhere near me. Alas like all good things they eventually come to an end. I met my future husband one Saturday night. He had a car in a car show at the CNE exhibition grounds automotive building does anyone remember SpeedSport? Yup he had my already favourite car entered a 1968 white Firebird with a black convertible top. So i wandered off to suburbia got married. So tonight it all came crashing back and I enjoyed the trip. P.S. we did try the other new wave club but it just wasnt the same. Nuts and Bolts was our home where we comfortable. Thanks for sharing everyone. I would love to see if we could try and figure out if anyone of us remembers the other

    Lori Oldfield I used to be Lori Pollard always in my tight black spandex with the wicked spiked heels.

    Thanks for reading sorry if I ramble.

    • Reply Judy Ruffolo March 19, 2021 at 9:18 am

      Lori Anne…here’s a couple of N & B’s Facebook groups if you want to look them up and join!

      1980′s Nuts and Bolts Toronto The Original

      Nuts & Bolts 1980-1988

    • Reply Barb March 19, 2021 at 9:50 am

      Your not rambling, we all feel that way! It was great, I too have a shoe memorial in my closet – a few dresses too!

    • Reply Marty May 9, 2021 at 7:41 am

      Hey is this the same Lori who’s best friend and dance partner was Nina. I used to come out to the club every Friday and Saturday usually with my buddy Chuck. This would have been around 1979-1981. It was so much fun. If this is the right person you were dating Ray at the time. Nina invited me to your wedding but was in the wedding party so I took off just after dinner as I didn’t know anyone there. I didn’t think the article herein portrayed the club in its hey day which was when we went. It even started to decline and lose its original identity as early as 1981. Do you remember the Heat Wave concert I think Nina told me that you were both going. The club when I went was primarily full of super cool new wave music and lifestyle fans. The music was awesome as was the dance floor. I think you and Nina used to also hang out at Stars a more hard core punk rock type of club as Nina’s on and off again boyfriend worked there as a doorman. So much fun seems a life time ago. If this is the wrong person I apologize. lol

      • Reply Mark September 16, 2022 at 4:10 am

        Marty(yes this was the Lori and Nina duo) and actually anyone who knew Lori, I regret to inform you all of her passing on June 23 2022. If anyone has been in contact with Nina, please let her know Lori did wonder where she went to. As for the rest of you guys I never met anyone from here but being her husband for the last 21.5 years I did hear some awesome stories. Actually looking for Donnie her ex husband from 1982/84? Just for pics. Any info is appreciated and sorry if this ain’t the right spot

  • Reply Melinda August 27, 2020 at 8:08 am

    Please join the first Nuts and Bolts group on FB if you are interested.


    • Reply Jeem February 24, 2021 at 6:54 pm

      I just barely remember those years, gee I wonder why. Don’t forget about bouncer/DJ Eddie Stempowski and bouncer Tony, the peaceful kickboxer. I don’t have fakebook but hello to Judy, Janet, David, Nora, Glenn, Art ( remember when you barred me for rolling a joint in the men’s room?), Henry (my old flatmate), Congo, Rick, Toni, Lynn, Paul, Paula, Barb, Augusta, Chuck & Sandy, Fiona, Gerrick, …

      • Reply Janet February 25, 2021 at 3:02 pm

        Hi Jeem . Great to hear from you . I’ve searched for you a few times but couldn’t remember your last name!
        I have lots of memories of hanging out at Nuts snd Bolts snd at your townhouse— you used to make us cheddar cheese soup in the early hours and it was so good!!!

        • Reply Jeem February 26, 2021 at 1:24 pm

          Hey JB, I’m hard to find online because I’m not there much. Cheddar cheese soup is definitely one thing I don’t remember, but I think it might be because alcohol. If you look for a documentary called “Tribe”, about the 1995 Cycle Messenger World Championship in Toronto, I have an interview in that. I’m still downtown (Queen &Dovercourt) and still one of the sluts and dolts… even more brain-damaged than ever, but not dead yet.

          • Janet February 28, 2021 at 3:11 pm

            Alcohol was def a factor ! I’m gonna look up that documentary. What year was it filmed?

          • Jeem March 1, 2021 at 5:58 pm


      • Reply Paula Drummond March 5, 2021 at 10:35 pm

        Jeem!! I’m so glad you mentioned Barb and me! We have often wondered how you are. I still smile every time I think about mornings at your place. Let’s chat sometime.

  • Reply David Ohnona March 19, 2020 at 6:43 pm

    Nuts and Bolts, Cornucopia, RPM, and a half-dozen other new-wavy clubs were night-time homes in the 80s. Anyone know which club was first to play music videos, way before MuchMusic became popular? I remember watching ABC’s Look of Love, and Poison Arrow, and was blown away!!

  • Reply Stephen Lisson August 27, 2018 at 10:33 am

    HELLO!!!! gang. God, I miss this great club. I loved all the music that was played there. My girlfriend and I use to frequent Nut’s n Bolts practically every Saturday. There was nothing like this club, out in the burbs……we were coming in from Oakville. My girlfriend, who’s now my wife, for 33 wonderful years, we loved all this great 80′s music and we felt that NUTS played the best music out of all the clubs. We’d dance and yes, even sing a long to all that great music. I’m 62 now and I either go back and listen to all my old albums, or, I go on you tube and still listen to all my favourite tunes, from what I believe , was the best era of music in my lifetime. I stumbled across this article, so I had to add my 2 cents to the conversation. THANK-YOU NUTS N BOLTS for making my dancing years, so WONDERFUL!!!!!

    • Reply Jason September 6, 2018 at 5:24 pm

      That’s for sure. No clubs today come close to the vibe Nuts n Bolts had..even that funky stainless steel dance floor…was sick!Plus DJ Iian was hardcore badass. The 80’s dance era is forever etched in my memory and still listening to the new wave tunes , from then and now .
      Salute to all the 80’s Nuts nBolts hooligans and nutbars.. Take it easy!

    • Reply Eileen Joyce February 10, 2019 at 9:46 pm

      We were reminiscing about our bar days and I came across this on my search. We were from Buffalo. Met a lot of Canadians at the Continental. We then would spend every other weekend at Nuts and Bolts and the Silver Crown, the next weekend our Canadians friends would come to Buffalo for the Continental. This went on for years.

      That stainless steel dance floor was the best. I still dream of opening a bar and replicating that dance floor. Awesome memories and friends made there.

  • Reply Change Is a Funny Thing | Avard Woolaver Photography December 11, 2017 at 8:19 am

    […] Gas in the 1980s, I’m reminded, cost 45 cents a litre. Fashion was so different; cars were huge. Nuts and Bolts, seen in the photo, was a famous alternative dance club in the 1980s. It was closed in […]

  • Reply Judy Ruffolo July 2, 2017 at 11:07 am

    Hey guys and girls. Can you join this f/b group so we can all re-connect! https://m.facebook.com/groups/252063061886226?ref=bookmarks

    • Reply Jeem February 24, 2021 at 7:44 pm

      Bolts of us are nuts, right?

      • Reply Barb February 25, 2021 at 9:57 am

        Hello Jeem!

        Yes, memories are blurred a bit from the Bolts nights but what a blast that was. I wish I was still
        in shape enough to dance for 4 hours straight. Paula and I are still in touch but not in the same
        province anymore. I still have an ashtray, we all smoked and a few other momentos from the club.


      • Reply Barb February 26, 2021 at 8:56 am

        “Not without a washer” another nugget from Nuts and Bolts wall art. I remember when they used
        to serve food there too. Nice greasy burgers and fries….yum…just what you need in your belly after
        drinking and dancing all night and then ride the Younge St vomit commit (all night bus) up to
        Heather’s to crash. Ah…youth….

      • Reply Janet March 6, 2021 at 9:32 am

        Hey Jeem , there’s a new group on FB for Nuts and Bolts . Your pic is there snd lots of others . Ppl are asking about Henry – do you know what he’s doing these days? Any contact info?

        • Reply James Rooney March 20, 2021 at 4:51 pm

          I no fakebook, against my religion… saw Henry 2016 at Murray and Elm downtown, works at the building on NW corner…

        • Reply Jeem March 21, 2021 at 12:51 am

          Henry is @ Murray street and Elm downtown Toronto

          • Judy March 21, 2021 at 4:15 am

            Hi Jeem…is he living there…working there? Do you have a phone number or address?

          • Jeem March 23, 2021 at 1:53 pm

            I think he works @ 176 Elm, maybe lives there too, not sure.

  • Reply Paula Drummond April 4, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    Bolts was the place where everyone was themselves. What I really miss are the Sunday baseball games – staff vs regulars. Barb and I would make Purple Jesus and watch Congo make fantastic plays. We loved Henry watching out for us and Dave always served us first. That kind of time and those amazing people will rarely be seen again.

    • Reply BarbaraMurphy April 4, 2017 at 1:45 pm

      That’s right. Baseball not football. We’ll I may of been a bit hung over most Sundays!

  • Reply Barb Murphy April 4, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Bolts was a home away from home in college. Monday nights – all you could drink for $10 for ladies – Thursday – 2 for 1 drinks and then Friday and
    Saturday night. Nothing like that all night Younge bus to the all night Queen st car back home!

    The staff was amazing, Henry Celeste, best doorman/bouncer ever! Congo in the kitchen, Danielle and her big hat waitressing and Tracey and Liz behind
    the bar. This would be around 1983-87. Anyone remember that sad parrot they had in the ticket booth? Marie Suha and that giant mohawk!

    Paul Vella, I know you! You married my best friend, Paula. Short lived as the nuptials were, I was at the wedding in the dark north of Ontario. I believe your comment was “Its dark like we are driving in to death!” Nice.
    To the others, the dancers, Irish Bob Noble, Remo Romolo,Jim, Carol & Lindy, Chris, Paula, Heather and English Mike, incredible hours of dancing. Probably in the best shape of my life! Where ever you all are, I hope you are well and can remember some of those nights! There was even the odd Sunday morning Hangover Bowls, football games pitting staff against patrons. I was a cheerleader.

    Enjoyed the trip

  • Reply Eva January 25, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    We, my friends and I used to go there every weekend in 1982. Had a great time there. Great music and fabolous people. We where a bounch of blond girls from Sweden.

  • Reply Music and DJing - Past and Present Part 1 | George Dus December 18, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    […] then my genre of music was mostly alternative and gothic. I actually got a DJ gig at Nuts and Bolts spinning alternative music on Wednesday nights. Unfortunately, it was short-lived as the club […]

  • Reply Jason Misurka January 13, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    Just reading the comments aforementioned . Yup , Nuts n Bolts was a sick nite club at the time . Played awesome new wave ( industrial ) music . I saw that Front 242 show there at the time and I remember I could almost touch Patrick Codenys ( Keyboard ) player . Very fond memories there that I will cherish forever . DJ Iain was ahead of the times playing unique electronic tunes . If you happen to read this , I’m trying to remember a song you used to play . I believe the artist was ” Half Def” track was ‘Delusion’? Thx and peace to all !! J

    • Reply Iain January 13, 2016 at 11:09 pm

      Hey Jason,
      Nice to hear from you. Thank you for such kind comments!

      Man, you were soooooo close with the spelling! :) The song was Half Def’s “D’Aleutian.” It was very rare and interestingly is one of the only pieces of vinyl I kept when selling off my record collection.

      I looked for a YouTube post of the trash but sadly no success (cc. the ‘very rare’ comment!) ;) Perhaps someone else will have better luck. (You might want to reach out in the still active ‘Voodoo Club” Facebook group. Lots of music types seem to hang out there. Some even posted a link to IRT’s “Watch The Closing Doors” there once. Good times. :)

      I WAS able to track down the Discogs listing for you. You can find it here: http://www.discogs.com/Half-Def-D-Aleutien/release/1222539

      Hope that’s of some help! All the best, and thanks again for the kind words!

      - Iain

      • Reply Iain January 13, 2016 at 11:12 pm

        Hahaha. My apologies. The title is “D’Aleutian” with two e’s – not two a’s.

        Gotta love autocorrect!
        - I

        • Reply Iain January 13, 2016 at 11:13 pm

          Arrrg! Keeps changing just before I post! “D’Aleutien.” Sigh. Dang ‘puters!
          - I

          • Jason Misurka January 14, 2016 at 7:25 am

            Wow , you responded so quickly . Thank you for that . It really brings back good times . I hope your doing well after such a long time ago . All the best to you Iain . J

        • Reply Jason Misurka January 14, 2016 at 8:32 am

          Greetings Iain, appreciate the link . Unfortunately it was taken down from YouTube for some infringement beaurocrocy.
          Was looking at your website for a moment , very impressive . You were a busy gent even back then spinning tunes and education.
          I dabble with synthesis in my spare time , I have a personal affinity with synthesizer ‘s . Could you recommend a user friendly music editor
          that could work with midi. All the best !
          Kindest Regards J

      • Reply Jason Misurka February 20, 2024 at 12:00 am

        Hi Iain hope you’re doing well .
        Happy Family day weekend .
        Thanks for your response on the chat .
        Yes thanks for posting the Haf Def song . I actually found the name too and perhaps will try and locate one of its still kicking around . I put together a descent audio system and would sound stellar with vinyl or Dac . Thanks again for the memories and you contributing to the dj era of the 80’s .
        Keep in touch
        Best Jay Misurka

  • Reply jon October 8, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    I spent 1981 in TO, after getting a ride across the country from Vancouver that winter. I found Nuts & Bolts with my buddy Steve, and I boldly asked the manager, Keith, if I could have a job as a waiter. He hired me as a barback, and thus began the best summer I’d ever had. What a crew! I turned 21 in mid-May and we had a bit of a party that night — I wonder if that was the night my leather jacket got stolen.

    I would start in the afternoon with a burger that I cooked up in the kitchen, was it an old trailer? Then we’d work all night, what a gas. At 1 pm the lights went on and we took away all the booze, and then the party continued for another 2 hours. After we finally closed, the DJ (sorry I don’t remember your name man) would put on the dub, and everyone would clean up, go outside and smoke, and the bouncers would groove to the reggae on the dance floor. And I remember the wriggle!

    Keith and I would do our Elvis impersonations in front of the bar when the rockabilly would come on, Stray Cat Strut. I also remember “Walkin’ on the Beaches, Lookin’ at the Peaches” by the Stranglers, tons of other great tunes.

    “Hey punk rocker!” was a common greeting, I wore black jeans, worn-out Converse sneakers held together with safety pins, and t-shirts a la The Ramones.

    The best fun was after hours, all the staff would sit at the bar and Keith would sell beer, $1 into a beer mug to replace each bottle in the bar fridge, not sure if anyone knew or if the incoming bartender would just ring them in at the beginning of the next night.

    One of my jobs was to somehow guard the walk-in refridgerator, either outside or inside I don’t remember, while the staff cashed out and counted the money. It was a really busy club so there was lots of it! Not sure why I got the job, I weighed about 135 pounds! Funny, when I moved to NYC in 1986 I ended up in a similar job, stationed by the door at Spring Street Books in Soho, where my job was “to watch.” Is a skinny guy in Doc Martins and black jeans intimidating enough to be a bouncer? I certainly didn’t feel that tough!

    At Nuts & Bolts on Mondays, a dead night, my job was to be the waiter, while Keith ran the bar, the dj (Iain?) played the tunes and Henry (of course) did the door. Always fun, I remember having a smoke in the dj booth one night, just before a swimming or diving club, some two or three dozen people, all came in after some sports meet or meeting. Instead of 2 or 3 bartenders and a handful of waiters, there was just me and Keith. And I had just finished smoking, it was crazy!

    Two of the regular bartenders came down to help out, but for the first hour I was just going to the bar and getting 5 screwdrivers, 5 rye and sevens, and five beers and trying to match them up with the customers who thought I could remember their orders! Trip after trip, of course I dropped the entire tray on the dance floor the first time out — a trial by fire for sure.

    A big shout-out to Keith, the girls and all the rest of you crazy MFs who inspired me to continue doing the same kind of thing when I came back to Vancouver — shades of Nuts and Bolts lived on in Mr. Toast (Vancouver’s 2nd speakeasy) and the legit clubs Love Affair and Faces. Love you guys!

    - Jon

  • Reply Randolph July 27, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    I used to go to this dance club every week for the years it was in operation. The place was great and had great dance music and everyone was super friendly. It was not only a time when there was great dance music but a time when we could be free and be ourselves.

  • Reply Judy Ruffolo July 26, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    I have no idea why I decided to google this after all these years LOL! Hi Y’all!!! Xxo!

    • Reply glen ward May 25, 2017 at 6:09 pm

      Hi I don’t know if this is the Judy that use to be the bartender at Nuts and Bolts I , we use to call the Cat I’m the guy that only drank Michelob beer if so Email if you want to

  • Reply Jeem February 27, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    What about Keith Tupper?

    • Reply Rick Taylor April 3, 2016 at 12:17 pm

      Hi Judy

      Were you the bartender ? It’s me Rick I ran in with you a few years back in High Park I believe? Was so nice to see you but did not really get q chance to catch up and laugh st all our shenanigans during those years! Hope you r well. Ru n face book would love to catch up again as I forgot some stuff! Lol
      Thanks Judy

      Rick Taylor

    • Reply Judy Ruffolo July 2, 2017 at 11:38 am

      Jeem! Could you join this group Barb started? Janet is there too. https://m.facebook.com/groups/252063061886226?ref=bookmarks

  • Reply Sarah Wayne December 12, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    All comments in the string below have been republished from their original appearance on The Grid website. We’re including the readers’ comments as they add to these Then & Now stories. We look forward to reading new comments here as well.

    Many great memories! How can i post pix? 

9:48 am on June 7, 2014 

Maybe set-up a Facebook group. I don’t think pics can be posted here. 

9:28 pm on October 20, 2014 

    Paul Vella
    I lived at this place with my friends Chuck, Larry
Toni, Robbert, Keith, Kevin…it was a great place to dance
And hear great music. I miss the club and always wearing my hat
Long like Ska music!!!
Paul Vella (find me on face book if you still out there) 

7:41 pm on November 5, 2013 

    Some of my fondest memories were made at Nuts & Bolts… I spent so much time there while I was an art student to the years after. The people, the music, the atmosphere… It was nothing short of being a feast for the eyes and ears. The Lizard Lounge was a close second once N&B closed. What a great trip down Memory Lane seeing the pictures! David, Philip, Marco, Henry… I hope you’re all doing well! Heck, I think I still have my VIP card! 

7:48 pm on September 6, 2013 

    Loved this club! The patio was the best place to be in the summer!
Acid, dancing and blue shots! 

3:36 pm on February 22, 2013 

Paying homage to Nuts and Bolts, we are presently a special one-off night on the night after Boxing Day 2012
Featuring international talent signed to Mute, Kompakt, KK, and Zoth Ommog.
Free admission with Nuts and Bolts or Lizard Lounge club cards. 

5:45 am on December 14, 2012 

Best club ever, quick story. Sex pistols song comes on, everyone on the dance floor. start slam dancing shirt gets ripped off, fighting with this skin head. Me and my budys dont have to leave cause were friends with the door guys. Come back next weekend( like we always did).. standing at the bar , look over and see the guy Id fought last weekend, his hands in a cast. Spots me and starts to come over.. Im thinkin here we go again. To my surprise , he puts his good hand on my shoulder and says.. Good fight man, but shit ya got a hard head, then proceded to order us a round of shooters. Thats just the way the club was, you never knew how your night would turn out! (Miss that clb ) 

10:36 am on October 27, 2012 

    great clb 

10:22 am on October 27, 2012 


    we fondly called nuts….sluts and dolts. I loved ska nights and all the alternative/punk nights. I also really loved Lizard Lounge….it was cavernous…kind of like the Apocalypse for punk concerts. I never got to go to the Turning Point for punk shows as I was too young…along with Larry’s hideaway…but really wish I had. 

7:26 pm on July 18, 2012 

    I loved nuts and bolts even if i experienced the tail end of it. The Lizard lounge became my next hang out spot.Love and miss all the legendary clubs toronto had
and im glad i experienced almost every single one. 

11:04 pm on May 25, 2012 

    Peter T (SHAM)
I was a regular from 80 to 83. Great friends, great songs! 

8:55 pm on March 12, 2012 

    what was the music on nuts and bolts tv ad? 

1:02 am on March 18, 2012 

    Ed J 

    Hi …This is Ed Jandrisits. Nuts and Bolts was born in 1980. It was originally opened as a disco, Studio 277, in 1979. I was hired early in 1980 by Frank Cutajar, a Ryerson grad who spent years at Princess Resorts, and the American Embassy in Paris as their catering manager before owning 9 restaurants and bars in downtown Toronto. The club was the creation of myself and Jody C, a musician and artist. We spent many trips travelling to NYC to buy records, visit clubs and bring a piece of the excitement of the NY music scene to Toronto. The original DJ’s Jeff, Harry, Larry, David, Dennis, Chris and Ivar Hamilton helped create a atmospere that packed the basement with as many as 1000 clubbers 7 nights a week. They were good times and it was an exciting time for all of us to be part of the success of the club. We worked closely with 99 Records near Washington Square, Record Peddlar, Roblin Records, CFNY and Dennis Cote to bring the newest sounds to Toronto from arounf the world. We were inspired by the big apple …CBGB, Mud Club, Hurrah, Ritz, and Vendredi 13 Quebec City, Limelight Montreal. Everyone there was like a big family and we shared a love for music, having fun and the 100 minute club. Cheers, Ed 

4:54 pm on December 19, 2011 

    Jeffrey LeClair
Hi… This is Jeffrey LeClair and I was the original resident DJ for Nuts & Bolts from 1979 through to 1981. Frank hired me in 1979 when Studio 277 was still playing Disco and dying a horrible death….within a few weeks the music format was changed to New Wave and Punk and Nuts & Bolts was born. During my residency I was the sole Dj and played every night the club was open with the exception of when I was sick when my lighting man Harry would fill in for me. One of my favorite things to do was play a solid one hour set of Sex Pistols if too many people made lame music requests. And then there was “The Squirm”… I would venture out of the DJ booth with my headphones attached to a 50ft extension, lay on my back in the middle of the dance floor and wiggle around like a worm. Nuts & Bolts was a crazy place to work at… most definitely notorious! 

9:59 am on January 10, 2012 

    kevin calhoun
you guys truly have messed up the history of Nuts and bolts, the first people to work there was the creators of the new wave punk phenomena. I no as i sat at the table with frank the owner and 5 or 6 other people and franks question was clear, we had 2 to 3 months to take a unsuccessful disco into a successful night club and if we couldn’t come up with an idea frank would have to close it down. I hired Henry and we ran that door for the next 8 years. there were barely any fights in that bar because if you fought you were not allowed back in and this was a club that you didnt want to miss. If anyone has any memories to share god id love to here them. if you dont believe me ask frank or eddy they were the best part of this club,  

2:07 pm on October 31, 2012 

    kevin calhoun
    hi ed
the most influential people in creating nuts and bolts was Judy and her boyfriend and ed was right it was a disco first. Ed help make the club what it was. I protected it, Henry was and still is in my heart, I hired him so when a fight broke out, Henry held them back and i knocked them out one at a time i always protected the meek
that’s why it was one of the safest clubs to go to 

2:21 pm on October 31, 2012 

    Martin West
Would love to see a “Then & Now” on the Copa and RPM 

11:58 am on December 19, 2011 

    Ron Burgundy
    You know why Ryerson is cool now? Its a UNIVERSITY!! Before, it handed out pieces of paper for polytechnic institute graduates. What the @#$% is a polytechnic institute anyway? It has beautiful buildings being built, a student centre, has now surpassed York U in overall educational quality and has an athletic centre that makes other university athletics look like elementary school gymnasiums. Ryerson is now a top class institution in Toronto, not some drug infested, drag queen creating asylum it once was. 

12:01 am on December 17, 2011 

I had to laugh reading the first few paragraphs of this article. Frank Cutajar is my uncle, and as a kid spent many happy times at Nuts & Bolts, his Dilly Deli (which became the All Star Eatery) where my Maltese grandfather worked behind the counter, the Cornucopia and the Back room at the Sheraton.
The closest my uncle came to farming was picking bushels of tomatoes and apples with the family at harvest season out in the Niagara Region as a kid. They were a poor family who worked hard to feed 9 people on a single income; my uncle continued to work hard and thive with his businesses. 

9:13 am on December 16, 2011 

    DJ Iain 

    Hi Bequila T,
How cool to hear from one of Frank’s relatives! 
I must say i am VERY suprised to see your note. I gave Denise the info re: Frank being a farmer. The information I had was from numerous conversations with Frank and others over the years. (I was the weekend DJ and Promo Manager at the club for a couple of years and had many meetings and conversations with him in the course of my time there.) 
Perhaps I misunderstood but I am pretty sure my recollection of Frank as a farmer was also the accepted knowledge and understanding amongst all who worked for him. Perhaps he intended to cultivate a ‘nice down home’ image? Frank always did work in mysterious ways to many of his staff!!  (not unlike many other club owners who I later came to know and work with over my 15 years in the business!!) Perhaps his personal life and history just fits with that ‘man of mystery’ m.o.. 
I should also add that, while mysterious and tight (good) with the $$$, he was also always incredibly nice to me – even when he gave me the boot just as the club was about to move location. Frank was the one who gave me my first opportunity at management having first moved me up the in the DJ ranks. I am ever grateful for having had the opportunity to work for him at such a landmark club. 
Hope my information given to Denise has not caused any concern. It certainly was not my intention to pass along any erroneous info! Rumours certainly tended to fly in clubland – and the idea of “Frank Cutajar, The Framer Owner” of one of the most cutting edge clubs of it’s time may just have been too compelling to ignore! ;p 

10:10 am on December 17, 2011 

    DJ Iain
    er – ““Frank Cutajar, The FARMER Owner”… M-u-st c-h-e-c-k s-p-e-l-l-i-n-g b-e-f-o-r-e p-o-s-t-i-n-g! ;p 

10:16 am on December 17, 2011 

I just want to say that I love this series of columns. Please keep it going. 

8:22 am on December 16, 2011 


    fully agree…i actually look forward to them 

5:37 pm on December 16, 2011 

    what the what
    I work in that bldg now. It’s a boring expanse of cubicles. Nice to know of its previous life. Cool. 

9:51 pm on December 15, 2011 

    The Unknown Torontonian
I was a regular at N&B (and also Domino’s) in the early 1980s and, at the risk of sounding like an old fart, miss both of these venues very much! The vibe was friendly and unpretentious, and both the music and clientele were eclectic. My favourite memory of the place is dancing my face off to Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” as part of a sweaty mix of punks, hippies, rastafarians, Bowie clones, nerds, goths, preps, and rockers … 

11:32 am on December 15, 2011 

    Michael X 

    Wonderful story and thanks for bringing the past to light. 
I too was lucky enough to have Nuts and Bolts on my resume. I was only 18 at the time and not even allowed to drink, but thanks to Derek Perkins and some luck I was spinning the ‘Upstairs’ version of Bolts in 1988. 
What I remember most fondly was the true cross-section of music that was played there. It made it a pleasure and a challenge to keep the dance floor full.
Thanks for the memories.
Dj Michael X 

12:29 am on December 15, 2011 


    Yow Michael…. Your buddy Marco here we’ve run into each other now and again a couple of years ago.. Hope all is well…
Talk to you soon.
BTW folks I was one of the doormen of Nuts and Bolts upstairs… 

11:40 pm on October 2, 2012 

    william Engel
I never had any money then, but the pool table was always open at the beginning of the night, the stainless steel dance floor was great as was the music. Hope your well David Long time! 

12:25 am on December 15, 2011 

that stainless steel dance floor was lifted and brought to catch 22 fyi 

7:02 pm on January 10, 2012 


    Just wanted to Clarity that I went to Bartend at the copa and then was hired to reinvent the Lizard Lounge were I hired Philip, Iain and the rest of the gang to create a new and exciting space for the early 90′s. Great peice ! Brings me back to a great time in my life! Thanks, David 

9:40 pm on December 14, 2011 

    Steve Skolney
Yes and what a great job you did at the Lizard Lounge. I was the bartender there when it was a college pub then you turned it into something special…and I stayed bartending there till the day it closed. 

12:00 pm on December 15, 2011 

    Erin O’Connor
Little late to this piece (hi Dave/Steve/Iain!) I was also a bartender at the Lizard Lounge, in the pool room. Nutz and Boltz and Lizard were unequalled. Best atmosphere and staff ever! Long live the Cincinnati Dancing Pigs. No white pumps remains my personal dress code. 

5:32 pm on January 31, 2012 

Who the heck could “thumbs down” a comment form Myrna? Miss the old days. Nuts & Bolts has a very special place in my heart. It’s where I met the man of my dreams…and we’re still together 23 years later! 

1:02 am on May 29, 2012 

    Angelina Ieraci
    I sadly pnly discovered N & B at the end of its’ life but The Lizard was my absolute favourite bar experience EVER. It had a wonderful cavernous feeling to it and I danced many hours there, catharticly getting out all my Demons at the time. It was the Grumbling 90′s after all.
LOVED DJ Iain’s spinning and Hedley Jones’ as well. I was so sad when it closed. There was nothing quite like it. 

6:01 pm on December 14, 2011 

    Rob Walker
This is weird,Angelina but i frequented The Lizard Lounge and i don,t remember for the life of me where it was located.Can you fill me in on this part of my past? 

10:05 pm on December 15, 2011 


    Rob, Lizard Lounge was in an alley running off the west side of Church, just north of Gerrard. 

8:23 pm on December 16, 2011

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