Like any major city, Vancouver has a distinct flavour due in part to elements such as geography, population, industry and cultural diversity. And a charming product of this blend of ingredients is sometimes the unique enclaves that appear -- establishments and events that couldn't be anywhere else. Here are the places that, for lack of a better term, are "So Vancouver".
THE ESSENTIAL VENUES
1585 Johnston Street, Vancouver, BC, V6H 3R9 tel: (604) 687-1354
This, the social side of the Granville Island Theatre, is a favourite art student hangout due to its proximity to the world-renown Emily Carr College. Cityscape views from the patio are breathtaking, the micro-brewed beers are legendary and the music is a dilettantish mix of home-grown talent. A refreshing alternative to the mainstream...
654 Nelson Street, Vancouver, BC, V6Z 1L5 tel: (604) 605-4343
BaBalu brings the Cuban Lounge experience to downtown Vancouver with a menu that features mouth-watering tapas as well as sumptuous entrees. The cocktails are as exotic as the atmosphere, the wine list is extensive and the musical repertoire includes everything from Jazz to Funk to R&B. From Tuesday to Thursday, you can check out this establishment's house band, 'The Smokin' Section'.
845 Hornby Street, Vancouver , BC, V6Z 1V1 tel: (604) 608-5319
This lounge in the Wedgewood Hotel is an elegant establishment with the fireplace-and-polished-wood charm of an Old World haunt. A favourite with working professionals, the superior cocktails and attentive service are only trumped by the later-evening live piano accompaniment playing familiar favourites and requests. This is a true slice of Vancouver finery.
2099 Beach Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V6G 1Z4 tel: (604) 734-1917
TUTS has become a summer tradition in Vancouver. This professional theatre company performs amazing shows at the outdoor Malkin Bowl in the beautiful downtown sanctuary of Stanley Park. Productions usually run in tandem, alternating nightly as weather permits. Recent shows have included Grease, Oklahoma!, Annie Get Your Gun and Jesus Christ Superstar.
301- 601 Cambie Street, Vancouver, BC, V6B 2P1 tel: (604) 739-0559
While Bard on the Beach does not strictly qualify as a live-music event, its uniqueness and charm make it well worth mentioning. For two decades, this non-profit Shakespeare festival has performed its famous plays on the idyllic shores of Vancouver's Vanier Park. Two separate performance tents provide a total of almost 800 seats for fans of the stage from June to September. The Mainstage Tent is open-ended, a magnificent view of the mountains acting as backdrop to the players. The Douglas Campbell Tent houses performances of some of the Bard's lesser plays in less traditional stagings.
The Marine Club
573 Homer St., Vancouver, BC, V6B 2V7 tel: (604) 683-1720
There's nothing pretentious about The Marine Club. That's because it's actually the popular hangout of Vancouver's merchant marines. Intimate and tightly-packed, cluttered with nautical memorabilia, any given night will find a cluster of sailors from all over the shipping world. And music-wise, the ex-Deadbolt band-member manning the decks guarantees a healthy dose of Rockabilly accompaniment to your cup'o'rum. This is the closest you'll find today to an authentic pirate lair.
#200-780 Beatty Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 2M1, tel: (604) 683-6506
The Vancouver franchise of Canada's favourite sports bar not only provides an exciting venue for everything from Major League Baseball to Ultimate Fighting Championships... Most importantly, it stands as the official, unofficial headquarters of the Vancouver Canucks fan-base! Close enough to GM Place to almost hear the crowd roar, the only better place to watch the game is at the game itself. And if you're lucky, you might run into one of your favourite players, as they've been known to enjoy their overtime nachos and beer here!
Side Door Cabaret
2291 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC, V6K 2E4 tel: (604) 733-2821
All week long, this Kitsilano lounge provides a not-to-be-missed cross of Kits neighbourhood charm and UBC student vitality. Although small with a diminutive dance floor, this quaint, two-level establishment is a welcome change from the massive. eardrum-busting clamour of the bigger city clubs. And a night in Kitsilano is never a bad thing, is it?
The Edgewater Stage
750 Pacific Boulevard, Vancouver, BC, V8R 2L8
Once the heart of the 1986 World Exhibition, the Edgewater Stage at The Plaza of Nations is a unique facility that caters to festivals, fairs, concerts and corporate events. With its amazing natural and city views and glass canopy, this outdoor amphitheatre is definitely one-of-a-kind. The facility includes a permanent stage and built-in seating for 750.
816 Granville Street Vancouver, BC, V6Z 1K3
Still on form at 2am? Liquid is the only legal weekend after-hours establishment in Vancouver with different weekly DJ's spin a mix eclectic house beats until the wee hours of the morning. Fridays bring a roster of funk house DJ's including James Brown, Eric Lewis, and Simplemix while Saturdays are hosted by Dickey Doo, Todd Omotani, Eddy Toon Flash and international guests.
515 Davie Street, Vancouver, BC, V6B 5B6 tel: (604) 682-4388
This bohemian haunt is a popular restaurant by day. But by night, the lights dim and the musicians, writers and artists come out to play! A truly magical atmosphere is only enhanced by the vivid paintings and the handmade lanterns that cover the ceiling.
856 Seymour Street, Vancouver, BC, V6Y 1M6 tel: (604) 682-7722
Sometimes, you have to provide your own live music. That's why "Club Hollywood North", the oldest traditional Japanese Karaoke Lounge in town, is a fun and unforgettable alternative. A true crossroads of Vancouver's dominant cultures, it features a huge selection of Japanese, Korean, Chinese and English songs plus beautiful Japanese hostesses to make your evening perfect. Here's the mic. Have at 'er...