ApéroChic: A Touch Of France in the Heart Of Toronto’s Nightlife

France wine bottle culture 600Once a month, ApéroChic takes over a prestigious, hip and happening nightclub in downtown Toronto … and the events never cease to disappoint those lucky enough to be on the exclusive guest list.

Two lovely ladies from France, Peggy Harvey and Estelle , who now live in Toronto, created this club in 2011. They’re the masterminds who organize these cosmopolitan post-work soirees with an elegant French twist to bring together on average more than 400 people to each event.

2 ladies

Now well-entrenched in Toronto’s social scene, ApéroChic events have become among some of the most must-be-seen evenings in the city.

The atmosphere is always warm and welcoming. With a glass of champagne in hand, the two French hostesses greet guests and newcomers alike. A “Simply Chic” dress code is required and respected.

When she arrived in Canada with her husband in the late 2000s, Peggy, aka The Parisienne, was simply trying to meet new people. Despite her career and family obligations, neglecting her social life was simply not an option.

Peggy knew it was going to be a massive undertaking – first due to a lack of time and network of friends, but also because she was at an age when she was no longer partying with binge drinking student friends.

Sidewalk scene

French Twist

Nevertheless, Peggy forged ahead. She was joined shortly thereafter by her friend Estelle Saint Martin, and thus the French duo started to develop their plan.

Toronto is bursting with fashionable clubs that Peggy and Estelle like to visit for a drink. So, they mused, why not approach the clubs about organizing big parties? It’s a great opportunity to visit the city in an original way.

Nearly four years later, ApéroChic is among the can’t-miss after-work places to socialize, and not just within the French community.

“Like Toronto itself, the guests are very international,” says Estelle. “We didn’t want to restrict our guest list simply to our network of friends from France. Neither one of our husbands speaks French, so the idea was to have them to join our project so that we could go out together.”

It’s an international crowd, but with a distinctive touch of France. Through ApéroChic, Peggy and Estelle honour and share their French culture. In January, they host “la Galette des Rois” (Kings Cake), July brings Bastille Day and November celebrates Beaujolais Nouveau.

Bastille Day, the French National Day takes place each year on July 14. This year, they hosted the soiree at Cabana Pool. French flags flew proudly around the well-known Toronto club that provides stunning views of the city.

Finally, every summer, there is a Nuit Blanche that brings the spirit of Saint-Tropez to town.

Evening by the pool

These themes are now celebratory institutions within the ApéroChic community, which has more than 6,000 members. If a location allows, the two organizers are quick to create their events with flare and originality.

Gatherings Gained Momentum

The Spoke Club, Spice Route, Brassaï and many other trendy venues have hosted ApéroChic soirees. They even hosted fashion show at Courthouse to take advantage of the podium available to the room.

In July 2014, more than 1,000 guests attended an event that took place in the gardens of Casa Loma, high above downtown.

“We have a strong partnership with Casa Loma, and hosted a concert of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra that featured Edith Piaf songs. The evening was very elegant,” Peggy adds.

A change of style came in August 2014, but no change in the appetite to attend the party as nearly 1600 people joined the festivities for Nuit Blanche on the terrace of the Cabana Pool bar.

Cabana2

“These big summer events are incredible in every way. We hope to repeat this experience in the future, but we’d also like contain our events to a reasonable size,” Estelle observes.

In March 2015, the location – The Lodge, a private and very selective social club – was kept secret until the day of the event that saw 200 guests attend. The theme was centered on a mask and entitled “Secret Masquerade” and took on the feel of a Venice carnival. The evening was a blast.

This groundswell of support and involvement is what allows ApéroChic to meet its original goal: to allow their friends to meet more people with shared interests.

“When the number of people is limited, we can talk to most of the guests. We pay special attention to them. We want to ensure that they have a nice evening and that by the time they leave they’ll have met some interesting people,” says Estelle.

“Also, when our fellow countrymen first arrive in Toronto, and don’t know anybody yet, they must absolutely not be afraid to come to one of our events,” she explains.

“It’s casual networking,” adds Peggy. “It’s an opportunity for friendship, love, and business opportunities to flourish.”

Everyone benefits in this crowd of urban professionals who range in age from 30 to 50. And if capacity is not reached, no one is denied the right of entry.

Musically, the objective is also to play songs with a French influence. And for that, they want the best of Parisian sounds. DJ DAF, a former resident of the illustrious Hotel Coste label and Maxim’s Paris, is a regular at the events. The tunes play, but the sound volume is controlled. The priority in the room is conversation. However, this does not stop the crowd from dancing.

Sunset scene

Sophisticated Chic but not Snobbish

Through hard work and word-of-mouth, the two French women have made a name for themselves within the small circle of chic clubs/ lounges that host night-time events in Toronto.

Clubs or lounges now generously open their doors to ApéroChic soirees. It allows the venues to attract a broader customer base, which they may not have drawn upon on their own. And if prices can be negotiated – drinks go for under $10 in places where they can easily rise to $25 – and the establishments gain that all important visibility and buzz they crave. They also like evenings that look and feel more like a party with friends than a night of clubbing.

Many chic bars, lounges and prestigious addresses in Toronto still need to be explored and perhaps even some locales that don’t exist yet. There is no doubt that Peggy and Estelle will continue to discreetly cultivate and expand their contact lists and continue to surprise and amaze us in the coming months.

So What’s Next?

Think “Beaujolais Nouveau” bien sûr!

Contact Peggy and Estelle to become a member and attend their events via Aperochic and view pictures of past events on their Facebook page.

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