Monday, May 27

Toronto Prepares for Its ‘Beyoncé Weekend’

If left to fans, one of the incoming mayor of Toronto’s first acts would be to declare a municipal holiday in honor of Beyoncé’s last tour stop in the city to kick off her North American shows.

“I feel like Toronto is going to shut down this weekend,” said Timothy Achacoso, a Beyoncé fan who was buying a T-shirt emblazoned with the star’s holographic horse at a pop-up shop in the city’s upscale shopping district.

“Olivia Chow should literally make it on Beyoncé’s weekend,” Achacoso, a customer service agent, said of the newly elected mayor of Toronto.

With two shows scheduled in Toronto this weekend, Beyoncé begins the North American leg of her first solo tour in seven years in a city still recovering from the pandemic, which has disrupted live shows and limited concert attendance well below below capacity.

His blockbuster shows, part of the Renaissance World Tour, are expected to trigger a traffic jam around the concert venue, Rogers Center, with crowds of pedestrians pouring into the city’s downtown streets.

Mr. Achacoso is preparing for an hour-long wait to board public transportation and go home after the show, an estimate based on past concert experiences from megastars like Lady Gaga, who played Rogers Center last summer .

“She’s an icon, she’s a legend, so I feel like I’ll never stop being a Beyoncé fan,” she said.

This week, thousands of fans flocked to the pop-up store that opened Wednesday on the third floor of Holt Renfrew department store. The store sold T-shirts, including a Toronto exclusive that read “Shut This City Down”, hoodies, and other concert memorabilia. The shiny silver “Renaissance” cowboy hats were out of stock by the store’s second day of operation.

“We were walking up the escalator and we were like, ‘They’re playing Beyoncé,’ we’re ready,” said Maya Coplin, a graphic designer who traveled from New York for the show and bought a tour book at the store.

Ms. Coplin and her friend from Toronto, Victor Guo, bought their tickets for around C$200 each, or $150, compared to prices closer to $500 for seats at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, she said. said.

It will mean a better insight into the choreography Mr. Guo rehearsed at home in preparation for the concert, especially for songs like “Black Parade,” which Beyoncé is known for taking her daughter, Blue Ivy, out to perform for.

“I specifically learned the whole routine,” she said.

Choreography classes to learn the dance moves from Beyoncé’s music videos and past tours — or “Beyography” — were once so in demand in Toronto that Nicky Nasrallah taught them to groups of up to 35 nine times a week for a year , finishing circa 2018.

Mr. Nasrallah, a Toronto drag performer who goes by the name Selena Vyle, has seen Beyoncé’s Mrs. Carter Show tour in three cities, the Formation tour four times, and will be in the VIP section at Sunday’s show.

“His concerts are in the church, like they’re a spiritual awakening,” he said, adding that the tour’s homage to queer dance music will be a more playful contrast to the heavier themes of racism and infidelity in his past shows.

“I know that even before the music starts, I’m going to have this surge of energy charging through my body, because that’s what his concerts bring,” she said. “They lift you up. It’s like I’m not even standing anymore.”

This concert, and a scheduled September show in Vancouver, is a chance for Canadian fans to tap into the global hype that will elude them when it comes to another pop star who’s been on tour: Taylor Swift.

Earlier this week, the musician announced 14 new shows for the Eras Tour, with Canadian cities notably absent from the roster. He sparked an appeal to Ms Swift on social media from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“I know places in Canada would like to have you,” said Mr. Trudeau, referring to his song “Cruel Summer” in a send on Twitter. “So, don’t have another cruel summer. We hope to see you soon.” (Mrs. Swift, so far, has not replied).

Beyoncé fans like Justin Major, a customer service agent for a software company, will likely be lining up soon at Rogers Center, formerly known as the SkyDome, Toronto’s ballpark and concert venue, which depending on the configuration , can accommodate more than 50,000.

“All my friends know this is the only album I’ve heard since last year,” said Mr. Major, noting that he played “Renaissance” for 10 hours straight on a recent flight home from Egypt.

He was set to travel all the way to Miami to see Beyoncé, but managed to get stage tickets for C$600, or about $451, for Saturday’s show.

“I knew coming to the concert that if I spent the money, I was going to get a show, and not just back-up singing,” said Mr. Major, 25. the whole thing.