From Ale to Stages: ranking the Queen’s bar scene

Breaking down the pros and cons of bars on the strip

Spoiler: Stages is not number one.
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When the police have hit every house party and people have gotten tired of getting fined, that’s when you’ll find 80 per cent of Queen’s campus at one of the bars on the strip.

While each bar or club are similar in their sweatiness, loud music, and long lines, some give a little more than others. Here’s my ranking of this particular part of Princess St.

#5. The Spot

To be transparent, I only put The Spot on this list so that I could boycott it.

If the location alone—tucked inside a strip of fast-food restaurants—isn’t enough to tell you that The Spot is pretty sketchy, then I don’t know what is.

The Spot is known for having underage workers, mean staff members, creepy old men who pursue young women, and reports of roofied drinks. It even managed to operate around COVID-19 restrictions, keeping doors open during closure protocols by calling the club nights “private events.”

With that said, you can also add “creating unsafe health environments” to the list of reasons why you shouldn’t be going to The Spot.

Frankly, I have no idea how The Spot is still in business. I highly recommend steering clear of it, but to each their own.

#4. The Brass Pub

If you’re looking for a more chill night, head to The Brass Pub.

You grab a table for you and your friends—good luck finding one if its past 10 p.m. on a Saturday night—a waitress will come over, and you can grab a drink and/or decently good food.

Brass is pretty small, though, so if you don’t have a table by the time they’ve filled up, you end up awkwardly standing out of place in the restaurant. It feels like you got invited to someone's small birthday party of close friends and you don’t know anyone.

And the tables fill up quickly, so bear that in mind.

#3. Stages

Stages is the only real club in Kingston, so it can’t be lower than three on my ranking. However, I have a bone to pick with the Stages’ DJ—the music is often boring. 

If I’m going to wait in a line for more than an hour to stand in a big, hot, and sweaty mosh pit, the music needs to be good. Unfortunately, I sometimes end up standing in a crowd of people who all agree that jumping to certain songs just isn’t going to happen.

I do like clubs in general, so Stages gets some points for that. I couldn’t go every night of the weekend, but Thursday Stage Rage and the occasional Saturday night can be a good time.

#2. Ale House & Canteen

I’m going to get so much backlash for this, but Ale House & Canteen is my second-place ranking.

The main factor that keeps it from the coveted number one spot is its size—Ale is massive. It’s true you can meet a lot more people, you have two options for bars, and there’s always room to walk, but at the end of the day, I just don’t like the size.

First, stairs and drunk people are not a good combination, especially for someone who’s extremely clumsy like me. Second, separating from half of your friends and having to track them down later is a nightmare.

Other than its size, Ale is always a good time, and the ground-level dance floor has an elevated surface to dance on. What more could a girl ask for?

#1. Trinity Social

Two words: Dollar beers.

Let’s be real, not everyone goes to Trin for the beers, but everyone knows that if you’re there on dollar beers night, you’ll have a good time.

Trin is large enough that you aren’t totally crammed, plus you have the perfect mix of club and bar: you can dance a ton but also walk around and chill out. Not to mention the music is always great—special shoutout to mod night when the taste is immaculate.  

Trin gives everything you want it to give. It’s a perfect mix of bar and club, and it has dollar beers twice a week, good music, and great people. It deserves the number one spot.

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While this feels like a diss-list, I do enjoy all of the bars and clubs on the strip. I hope this ranking gave you some insight into the pros and cons of each venue, and helped you make your weekend plans.

If anyone who works at Stages reads this, please don’t ban me for putting you third.

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