Three men are on a mission to get the party started at UTM: Ali Huseynov, a third-year environmental management student, Andrei Gourianov, a recent economics grad, and Joshua Ivezic, a fourth-year economics and human resources student.
“There’s no party scene at UTM at all. Our pub nights [happen] every once in a while and the closest bar is Abbey Road—and the people that go there are older,” Ivezic explains.
“There’s Homestead, but it’s not to a lot of people’s liking,” adds Gourianov.
But with the opening of the new Erin Mills Pump and Patio in the Sherwood Forest Plaza (only a 10-minute walk from residence and across the road from Homestead), Ivezic says they saw the opportunity to “establish a place where people could go and party, relax, have a drink, see their friends, and hang out”.
The three first approached the Blind Duck with their idea, but the pub’s early closing time and high rental fees for those not belonging to a UTMSU-recognized club made collaboration unfeasible.
The trio initially had no connection with the Pump or its staff. “[We] walked in, spoke to the managers, and wooed them,” says Gourianov.
They held a trial run on March 13, after less than a week of preparation. At one point, the pub was almost filled to capacity with 160 people, just shy of the Pump’s limit of 170. In addition to the Pump’s regular drinks menu, $4.75 Jäger shots and $4.50 bottles of Canadian and Coors were offered. A dance floor was set up on the main level, with Ivezic as DJ; he played country, EDM, dance classics, and sing-alongs before finishing the night with some hip-hop.
Those who didn’t want to dance could enjoy a more traditional pub setting around the Pump’s bar. The restaurant’s upper level served as a lounge, where the music was still audible but quiet enough to allow for conversation. “There are all the different environments. If people want to talk, they can talk; if they want to dance, they can go dance,” says Ivezic.
The event kicked off around 11 p.m. and was packed until 1 a.m.
“By the end of the night it wasn’t all students. There were a lot of [regulars] enjoying the atmosphere. There was a lot of energy there,” Ivezic says.
“I actually saw quite a few people [who] weren’t students on the dance floor. Everyone was just having a good time,” Huseynov adds.
The managers responded enthusiastically to the event’s success. “It’s an awesome thing for the community,” said Cornelia Audrey, a fourth-year theatre and drama studies specialist, political science minor, and a waitress at the Pump. “It was nice to have somewhere where you knew everyone. It’s like nothing UTM’s ever had.”
Gourianov explains that they intend to keep the events more pub-like than club-like. They aim to emulate the atmospheres at the Madison Avenue Pub by St. George and downtown Mississauga’s Failte Irish Pub—but with cheaper drinks, a more accessible location, and a younger crowd.
They’re adamant about proper planning and promotion, working with Pump management to create a Facebook page to promote future College Nights, or “Networking Nights with a DJ”, as Gourianov jokingly calls them. The first official College Night is set for this Thursday at 10 p.m., and the events will continue weekly into the summer. Student cards aren’t required—guests from outside the university are welcome.
“We’re doing this for fun. It’s a hobby. It’s a public service,” says Gourianov.
“Our goal is to try to transform the community,” adds Ivezic. “We knew that there were a lot of people that wanted this. We want to try to organize something with places all around the area. We want to create an environment where you don’t have to go with people. There’s always going to be a friendly face.” In the future, they’re hoping to feature an up-and-coming DJ at each event.
According to Gourianov, they plan to start things off slowly with the arrangement at the Pump.
“I met all the people that I knew [at university] by going out and doing stuff outside of school,” he says. “I had a lot of fun when I was at UTM, but I know a lot of people who just didn’t know about the same opportunities. But if it’s readily available, why not?”