George Street in St. John’s, Newfoundland has the most pubs and bars per capita of any street in North America. Two blocks devoted to debauchery and music, make outs and break ups, and strangers聽dancing on the cobblestone street. A playground for adults. I may have visited there a little too early.

My high school friends and I would sneak into shady spots, fake IDs in hand. I had a theory that if I聽showed up looking like I just got out of a business meeting, I始d be okay, so I would go聽downtown dressed like a misplaced investment banker. I was 18 with braces. I was the聽Doogie Howser of George Street. Good thing I had a wicked fake ID.

When I finally was of age, my friend Jennifer and I marched straight downtown to look聽for jobs. I still had braces, but left my investment banker outfit at home. And we got hired.聽

At Club Etomik.

Club Etomik was a huge dance club. I was a cocktail waitress and Jenn worked the聽door. We had to wear glow in the dark shirts with “explosive thursdays” and a barage of聽fireworks along the front. Jenn’s ample curves created an explosion. I had the figure of a聽thirteen year old boy and my shirt looked like the result of a thick match struggling in the聽wind. The tips were terrible. Foreign men from the boats would offer me money to touch聽my braces. We would eat hot dogs on the steps of George Street when we finally聽emerged from work at 5 in the morning.

It was the best summer of my life.

Ten years later, I am back on the street, sans braces and with a mission to visit some聽old haunts. But now, what I love about downtown St. John始s isn始t the dance clubs. It始s the聽live music. It始s everywhere, and it’s excellent.聽

George Street

Jennifer called me on a Saturday afternoon after I’d hit the streets to ask me how the previous night was.

“What did you do?”
– “Everything.”
“Where始d you go?”
– “Everywhere.”

Here is a breakdown of the beaten path:

BEST BET ON GEORGE:聽The Rock House is a wicked venue on George Street for聽bigger shows, and The New Years Eve show with Cafeteria, The Wobbly Pops and The Texmestics was聽the best ticket I bought all Christmas. The Wobbly Pops and The Texmestics are rival聽cover bands comprised of members of local rock groups that play special events like聽Fake Prom for a laugh. At any point during the night, the stage was 铿乴led with great聽mish-mash of musicians, playing versions of songs like Bohemian Rhapsody and piking balloons. I have to admit that I had to scroll through the blurry photos on my聽phone to piece together the particulars of the party, but I seemed to have 铿乴led my聽dance card and kept a smile on my face that could crack a pineapple. I woke the next聽morning (correction: late afternoon) fully dressed with sore feet and a sparkly “Happy聽New Year” tiara that was gifted to me by a kind stranger in the ladies bathroom. I know聽this happened strictly due to iPhone evidence.聽

I also saw Gramercy Riffs with Secret Connection play at The Rock house earlier in the聽week, and it was super fun!聽Honorable mention to the Rock House聽door girl, who served us both nights and may be the nicest door girl I have ever met!

L-R: The Rock House, Wunderstrands & Pathological Lovers

BEST BET OFF GEORGE:聽The Ship Inn is, in my opinion, the place to see live music in聽St. John始s. It始s off Duckworth Street, down Solomans Lane. It始s akin to one of my聽favorite venues in Toronto, The Horseshoe Tavern. If Labatt 50 is the Horseshoe聽Champagne, you pop the cork on an India at The Ship and sweat it out amongst a sea聽of old and young, gathered in the small dark room to have a good time. My favorite聽show at the Ship this trip was Mark Bragg and the Butchers, who are always a wicked time and really rocked it for the Boxing聽Day bash. Big props also go to The Ships 2-piece Fish and Chips. Not the band. The聽food. Nothing to do with music. It始s giant and delicious.

BEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK:聽The Levee for 9 O始Clock Rocks, a Thursday聽

Residency that boasts three beers for $5. For real. Pair that with bands like The Pathological聽Lovers and Mercy, the Sexton and you始ve got a good time (and聽a good deal). I got cover, three India, two shots of Jager and the cute bartender’s phone聽number for less than $20. The phone number may have cost more than the beer.

BEST SPIN AROUND A SWEATY DANCE FLOOR:The Dardanelles played to a sold out crowd at Erin始s Pub, satisfying my need for聽some fantastic traditional music and a hearty spin around a dance 铿俹or filled with young聽women jigging and older couples two-stepping.聽

BEST ROCK OUT WIND DOWN:聽The Wunderstrands gave a sensational private show in a Water Street artists loft. 聽Joined by Ilia Nicoll and the Hot Toddies, it聽was a perfect evening of sweet sounds and soft lights. Followed by a giant dance party.聽I guess it never winds down that much…

BEST SOLO PERFORMANCE:聽Honorable mention also goes to a busker on Water聽Street, playing outside of Velmas, the CIBC and O始Briens Music on the afternoon of Dec.聽29th. Not for talent, per se, but for sheer volume, enthusiasm and willingness to go聽where the action was.

BEST RANDOM ACT OF MUSIC:聽The biggest surprise happened off the beaten path,聽at my great friend Willow’s Christmas Party. We were visited by a group of carolers,聽comprised of members of bands like Repartee and Hey! Rosetta, to name a few. We all聽gathered outside and listened to songs and then crammed into her sweet little house for聽more. Then they packed up their songbooks and moved on down the street, to sing to聽whoever came upon their path.

If you can始t have fun in St. John始s, you don始t like fun. You don始t want it at all.I think I got an integral part of my groove back. Let始s see where I end up next week.