Seventy years after opening its doors, the Marble Arch achieved rock 'n' roll immortality in 1987. That's when Míƒ ¶tley Críƒ ¼e name-checked the former frontier-town beer joint in its hair-metal anthem "Girls Girls Girls". Donkey-schlonged drummer Tommy Lee and portly, peroxided frontman Vince Neil spent more than one night at the bar during the Críƒ ¼e's platinum years. The attraction wasn't the cheap and potent Canadian draft; at the time, 518 Richards Street was home to one of Vancouver's most famous strip clubs.
"Tommy Lee and Vince Neil were frequent visitors to the Arch when they were in town," says Mitch Pastorcic, who manages the Richards Street spot today. "They had their own private VIP section."
As good as business was for the pub in the '80s, the glory days didn't start there; it was doing a booming business when Vancouver's streets were still made of dirt and the first Fords were rolling off the assembly line.
"Horses and carriages used to pull up here," Pastorcic says. "That was back in the old western days when this was basically a saloon."
Whatever clientele the Marble Arch attracted when it opened, things eventually went downhill. By the early '70s it was a rubby bar populated by the kind of down-and-outers that pop up in the works of Charles Bukowski. The introduction of strippers helped clean up the crowds, attracting the suits at lunch, and, of course, sleazy hair-metallers at night.
As big a draw as the dancers once were, the disrobing stopped for good at the turn of the millennium when Mormons bought the building. The present owners have decided to keep that chapter in the room's history closed. Approximately four years ago karaoke booths were installed at the spot, which is now known simply as the Arch. Soon after that, DJs began packing in dancers with nights like the retro-themed Affair on Saturdays and the anything-goes Blender on Thursdays. The Arch's latest move has been toward live music on Fridays with Alive, which features local and touring bands performing on a raised stage that, back in the day, served as Míƒ ¶tley Críƒ ¼e's VIP section.
And speaking of the most notorious dirt bags in the history of rock 'n' roll, the Arch recently attempted to get the Críƒ ¼e to return to its old stomping grounds. When Tommy Lee and company played the Pacific Coliseum on July 29, hopes were high they would head down to Richards Street after the concert.
"We tried everything to get their attention, but they didn't show," Pastorcic says. "I guess it's a different kind of dancing that goes on here now."