As a prominent cosmopolitan landmark, Vancouver sees its fair share of world-class Rap and Hip-Hop talent playing at such mainstream venues as Richards on Richards, the Commodore Ballroom, the Pacific Coliseum, GM Place and even BC Place Stadium. But the rootsy, real Vancouver vibe can be found kickin’ it on some of the city’s less celebrated stages. Whether DJ’s MC’s or full live acts, this is the breeding-ground for local up-and-coming talent -- the stuff that started as freestyle in the kitchen of some East Side house party. It’s also where you’ll find some surprisingly high-profile out-of-towners breaking it down for some very appreciative audiences. While feature nights change from establishment to establishment, these are the hot-spots where you’ll always find beats to bounce to, Monday through Sunday. Here’s the word on the street...
THE ESSENTIAL HIP-HOP MUSIC VENUES
1320 Richards Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 3G6 tel: (604) 662-7707
Atlantis is unlike any other venue in Vancouver, boasting one-of-a-kind visual effects in an unforgettable ambience. The main floor features three bars, a beer tub and a massive dance-floor with a state-of-the-art DJ booth, lighting rig and sound system bringing you some of the best beats in town. For the high-rollers, a swanky VIP area is available by reservation and a fine list of beers, wines, champagnes and cognacs are always on hand. Aiming to chill out? The upstairs lounge with its leather couches and exotic plants and trees is the perfect place to enjoy a martini.
674 Seymour Street, Vancouver, BC V5L tel: (604) 648-2227
A favourite with visiting partiers, Au Bar provides high-energy Dance and Hip-Hop in an elegant, polished Gotham-esque atmosphere. The intimate, meandering table layout and warm candlelit glow has attracted night-owls from across Canada and the US since it opened. Truly a place to be seen, this establishment, with its twenty-two foot high ceilings, has become a formidable presence on the Vancouver scene. Whether it’s one of the three separate and distinct club areas, the VIP lounge or the ample dance floor that catches your interest, an upscale outing here will be likely just the first of many… especially if you find yourself here on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night.
1222 Hamilton Street, Vancouver, BC, V6B 2S8 tel: (604) 689-7000
If there was a stylish centre to the tornado that is Vancouver’s nightlife, it would be Yaletown. And if there was ever an uber-cool Yaletown establishment that represented that the best, it would be Bar None. A reputation precedes it as the best New York-style nightclub this far west of the Hudson River. And Bar None has earned this status in the competitive heart of Vancouver’s restaurant and hotel district. For over a decade and a half, the interior brick and wood Soho-esque flavour of this acclaimed hot-spot has attracted an impressive parade of live and electronic talent. Recently re-invented and renovated, Bar None caters to the hip dinner crowd, the re-emerging cocktail culture and later, those discriminating individuals who know wicked music when they hear it.
66 Water Street, Vancouver, BC, V6B 1A4 tel: (604) 683-6695
In the heart of historic Gastown, one of Vancouver’s legendary night-spots, Sonar, has re-emerged with a new look, under a new name: Fabric. This establishment, one of the cities largest rooms, plays host to some of the most prolific DJ talent the world has to offer with crowds of over five hundred busting out to the beat most nights of the week. For a more sweat-free evening, the upstairs Attic Room caters to groups of up to eighty people with a full-service bar, a DJ booth, lounge furniture and a VIP balcony overlooking the bouncing masses. Fabric is a Mecca for both promoters and club-goers alike.
Lotus Sound Lounge
455 Abbott Street, Vancouver, BC, V6B 1A4 tel: (604) 685-7777
Quite possibly Vancouver’s hidden gem, Lotus is in one word… underground. A young, creative crowd populate this dark, dance-oriented Gastown temple to all things electronic. And since electronica is the main item on the menu, the discriminating music aficionado can discover top-notch off-the-radar offerings of Drum-and-Bass, Progressive, Tech-House or Break-Beat. Many of the country’s top cross-genre DJ talents have graced the dim halls of Lotus, but the club maintains a solid loyalty to its Tribal House roots. Acoustically-intelligent space and one of the best sound-systems in professional club sound-reinforcement make for a night not easily forgotten.
Plush Night Club
750 Pacific Boulevard, Vancouver, BC, V6B 2S8 tel: (604) 669-8980
The Plaza of Nations, one of Expo ‘86’s greatest legacies, plays home to Plush --Vancouver’s monster nightclub. Newly renovate with two levels, three bars, dancing cages and the largest dance-floor in the city, this is the definition of a big night out. Adjacent to BC Place Stadium and GM Place, Plush is both a concert-calibre venue and an intimate lounge. While the fifteen-foot mirror ball has seen everything from top-shelf rap talent to high-profile DJ’s, most nights of the week provide something worth wading into the party for.
The Columbia Club
303 Columbia Street, Vancouver, BC, V6B 1A4 tel: (604) 605-1076
One of the city’s oldest nightclubs, Columbia is another Gastown favourite. Recent renovations have put the establishment in pole-position for attracting the Vancouver club crowds. Seven days a week until the wee hours, you won’t find a more eclectic line-up of Rap, Hip-Hop, Top 40 and House, not to mention occasional rock and metal!
7 Alexander Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 1A4 tel: (604) 684-3044
Spearheading Gastown’s resurgence as the Bohemian, creative epicenter of Vancouver’s cityscape, The Modern makes top-shelf music a priority. Contrary to its name, the establishment makes its home in a heritage building with a decor of dark, smoked glass, countless mirrors and coloured tiles. Counter this with a state-of-the-art sound system and neon light accents, and you’ve got quite the venue. Only the city’s and country’s best-of-the-best ever get near the decks here, guaranteeing a superior club experience every time. And if that’s not enough, a custom drink menu by award-winning cocktailer, Jay Jones makes the libations as excellent as the music.
Vancouver’s rap and hip-hop scene kicks it with the best. Check out some of our top dogs...
- Brougham Camp
- City Planner
- Curtis Santiago
- Fourth World Occupants
- Josh Martinez
- Kia Kadiri
- Lady Precise
- Mocha Only
- Sweatshop Union
- Swollen Members