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TEA & TWO SLICES: On The Waldorf Closing & East Vancouver Becoming A “Dry Zone”

by Sean Orr | Dear Waldorf Hotel, meet The Sugar Refinery, Starfish Room, Blinding Light, W2, Emergency Room, Sweatshop, Red Gate, 151, GLEN 360, Red Lounge, The Niagara, PUB 340, The Columbia, Richards on Richards, The Lamplighter, Brickyard, Underwear Farm, Butchershop, Honey/Lick/Lotus, Luvaffair, The Cavern, Smiling Buddha, Marine Club, Peanut Gallery, Pic Pub, Marble Arch, Mesa Luna, Town Pump, Purple Onion, Miss T’s, Selynn Hall, Java Joint, Pantages, Chameleon Club, Blinding Light, the Ridge, Dude Chilling Park, The Vancouver Playhouse, Exposure Gallery, Dadabase, Terminal City Newspaper, Tooth and Dagger, The Only, Beyond Robson, and a billion skate spots.

And while these ‘cultural entities’ closed for a myriad of reasons, they are still closed. And despite Professor Clint Burnham‘s point that the cultural sector is a key factor in gentrification, the sheer number of shuttered live music venues alone is reflective of our demographics and general attitudes towards local culture. The reaction alone (the news even made it to revered tasetmakers across the pond NME) is one of cumulative distaste, as noted in this tweet by Charenton:

Some, like Tony X, were more positive:

Others, like the CBC’s Stephen Quinn, chose to take a cheap jab at the 60 people who are now out of work:

Brandon Yan points out the irony of how the documentary No Fun City actually played at The Waldorf, and former city planner Brent Toderian reminds us that “BC has one of the weakest Heritage Acts in Canada” (although the actual building may yet be saved).

But wait, there’s more! Venues which hold liquor-primary licenses will no longer be able to de-licence whenever they want for all-ages shows:

Here’s a news flash, you fucking morons: kids get drunk before concerts. They also get wasted before movies, during late-night beach parties, and in the parking lot before hitting high-school dances. They also get drunk on shit-mix and puke their guts out in the stands during One Direction at Rogers Arena—for, believe it or not, reasons that have nothing to do with the music.

Related: BC Liquor Licensing, the best new Twitter account:

Note: things things happened after a report issued by SFU professor urging province to focus on creative sector. Do you think Christy “Hipster is Not a Job” Clark was interested?

Me neither, and yet…despite (or perhaps because of) this, Vancouver’s Punk Scene Blows Up.

Meanwhile The NHL lockout was good for Vancouver’s economy. Weird. So people actually go out and do stuff when hockey isn’t on? Hmm…

Local ad agency Rethink declare It’s time to replace the word “consumer.” “First and foremost, it means replacing consumers with believers”. Shudder. Yeah, that doesn’t sound like a cult at all. Did you decide against “The Following” because of that stupid new show?

Bedroom City: Babies vs Earls. Except in this case, the babies are actually the adults. I mean, I love to pick on Earls at any opportunity, but this is just strange.

Mainstream media headline of the day: B.C. police say hamster birth not worth a 911 call.

There are 25 comments

  1. Sean, I think you’ve posted the most extensive list of venues that have closed, most of the other lists mentioned in the Waldorf releated posts or comments have just mentioned maybe the most recent 3-5 venues but seeing that entire list is just sad. I think Roberston has the opportunity here to put his money where his mouth is and come up with a real strategy about preserving cultural spaces.

    One question though, isnt the number of public skate parks on the rise?

  2. Hi Boon. The number of skateparks is on the rise, but Vancouver’s street spots underwent a massive demolition in the 1990s and 2000s. Most new constructions are either being designed to be “skateproof” or are quickly made so upon completion. The “concrete jungle” of old has largely been tamed (barred benches, clamped ledges, spiked planters, etc.).

  3. Ok, gotcha, ….I do think in this particular case though, its a great example of alternatives being provided by the city and in designated spots so the rail slide marks dont have to go on other’s private property and everyone is happy (or more so than before). Is Vancouver not a leader in this area – public skate parks?

    In the case of the Waldorf though, i think the big loss is in the combination of having the mgmt with the kind of programming they were doing and in a venue that not only had versatile possibilities but a building with heritage/old school flavour. Dont think there is any other potential venue in the city like this. But seems in the end that it was a matter of business needs not being met by the tenant?

    Sean, i see you got some gastown bars that still exist but made the list since they were taken over by Donelly (Lamplighter, Columbia)? La Bodega is another spot (the tapas restaurant) with some real character that will go soon….

  4. Oh, no, La Bodega is going soon!? Does anyone know if they just decided to retire and pack it in? Or is it the usual development squeeze?

    Better get back there & have my patatas bravas & sangria while I can! Bummer.

  5. Didn’t the Waldorf host a Vision Vancouver fundraiser to get Gregor re-elected? A Silent auction where dozens of local artists and musicians donated their craft, and members of the community donated their money?
    Does Gregor remember his commitment to local arts & culture and preserving cultural spaces, and then receiving the onslaught of support from this very community which helped him win a second term as Mayor?
    Does Gregor remember that? Well I do, I was there. I and thousands of other people. I feel like a loser. Thanks for your support Gregor!

  6. Cheewiz, I believe the Bodega space was sold some time ago and will be closing on that particular location within the next year or so. I think they are looking at a new location though. I hit the Sardine Can (another tapas place) due to Scout exposure some time ago, the small space is cool but the food did not measure up at all to Bodega in my eyes (mouth).

  7. Yeah the list started as mostly local live music venues that don’t really do shows anymore. I don’t think Donnely owns Columbia but I could be wrong. Was going to include The Metropole but I dont remember there being live shows there. The skate spot thing was just to re-inforce the notion that we don’t accept young people having fun.

  8. @Boon, thanks for the info – I hope they can re-open in another location, I enjoyed the food and relaxed atmosphere.

  9. On a lesser note, thanks for pointing out how much of a smug asshat Stephen Quinn is!!

  10. Not to be a smart ass, but your list goes back to the town pump days, so it would be interesting to see a list of venues that have opened since then to give some balance.

    I guess I’m lucky to live in Mt Pleasant where we have the Biltmore and Anza providing a venue for bands, as well as the smaller places along Main St. The Fairview is pretty close by as well.

  11. You’re right, I was actually thinking about this. Let’s see: Biltmore, Pat’s Pub, Zoo Zhop, Electric Owl, Rickshaw…

  12. Well, you know Sean’s priority is to always point out the negative first. ;p

    Was gonna say about the Town Pump though, like, almost like saying Bryan Adams isnt the man anymore. That becoming Sonar was actually quite a transitional necessity to usher in the electronic music era and was done so by some the Nordic Trax crew if I recall correctly who also had the Chameleon which later changed to the Element Sound Lounge before the big hotel reno. It was also a long time venue for the Grande night that Gman & Rizk held down.

    I was gonna mention the Electric Owl and also Fortune Sound, 2 other venues in the area with some creative programming but the one thing about the Waldorf is that the physical venue itself opens up for more possibilities. Fortune though like the Waldorf also has some big history behind it.

    There is also the new Cobalt which the Winnie Cooper guys do tons of gigs every Friday. One of the other sorta off the map and different kind of venue has been Open Studios. New Forms was there for a while as well as the Waldorf 2 years ago. Chapel Arts, that Urban Wine space in Railtown seems to be a cool place with a diff vibe.

    Still I dont think the number of new live venues has kept pace with the ones that have been cut down though and that the Waldorf was really unique in many ways so even if the operators were to find another venue, it wont be quite the same.

  13. sean you forgot dynamo if im not mistaken, and the
    granville street theatres. good job tho. i actually read

  14. Having been involved with two of those closed institutions and a regular drunk at several others, Sean, I’m feeling the phantom limb pain. I’d like to also Urban Well as a dead place, killed by fines for not stopping customers dancing to the piped-in music.

  15. What was the name of the porn theatre down on Main Street? Also: RoyGBiv, Sinking Ship, Submerged, The House of Slack, The Meatball, Goody, Secret Location, Crosstown Traffic, Hollywood Cinema, Varsity Lanes, Church of Pointless Hysteria, Triple Threat, punk house on 12th

  16. The Fox Theatre, there was also an Indian Theatre on the Drive right before Hastings (about a block away from the Waldorf)….much of the nudie bars downtown have also closed, all of the them in Bby have. Is the Railway Club still around?

  17. pretty sure the Fox is still there, I was talking about the one near the Brickhouse, north main. The Indian Theatre was called Raja and before that it was a live venue called The New York Theatre.The Railway Club is indeed still around.

  18. Venus sounds about right, I knew there was one with an apt name. Sean, may I ask you about how you feel about the decrease in nudie bars out of curiosity? They are performance venues but of course not live venues in the vein of bands playing. Good or bad thing?

  19. Pretty non-plused. I don’t attend strip clubs at all, but I also wouldnt necessarily condemn them. I think they could certainly be added to this list much like The Venus.

  20. Kept meaning to go out to events at the Waldorf, but always had other conflicting plans, and now it’s too late. Dang.

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