When you step into the revamped Celebrities nightclub, you'll be forgiven if you think you've set foot on the film set of the next production of Tron. The Davie Village cornerstone has undergone an extensive, $1-million transformation (which began on January 2) which was unveiled on March 6. Its new look is the '10s doing the '80s doing the '60s, all mixed in an ultra-high-tech, retro modern blender.
Co-owner Alvaro Prol told the Georgia Straight in an onsite interview that the concept was how to make something great even better.
"The easy thing would've been 'Oh, we're opening a new club. Let's change the name…'," he said. "And for us, Celebrities was already great. We just needed to put more makeup on her and make her prettier."
He explained that the redesign, by Vancouver-based BOX interiors (whose portfolio includes Coast Restaurant, O Lounge, and Market by Jean-Georges), was built from the dancefloor outwards.
The minimal use of lighting features on the outlying areas (in fact, the balcony, which once sported a red band when the club was remodelled nine years ago, is now entirely black) and a use of reflective surfaces direct attention toward the dance floor. The redesign achieves overall visual cohesion by employing a curvilinear motif—evident in everything from furniture to counters to the ceiling lighting system—echoing the shape of the preexisting secondfloor wraparound balcony. (See the photo gallery tab for more visual detail.)
What's more, this is one cool, sexy drink that knows how to change flavours.
"The idea was to go dark, to have it sleek, clean, and…once you see the lightshow, you kinda see what it’s about, right?" he said. "Everything about this club, all the architectural light, is controlled from the booth. So we can actually change with the music."
Lighting fixtures built into the backlit seating areas can easily shift colour schemes, anything from an electric blue and red combo to yellow and purple. (The lighting work of visual artist James Turrell or dancer/artist Hiroaki Umeda come to mind.)
But the pièce de résistance is the ceiling lighting system above the dancefloor. The sophisticated system includes 20,000 RGB LEDs (over the dancefloor and stage) and 12 elation platinum beam 5r moving heads. (An additional 5,000 RGB LEDs are used in the seating areas, bar, and bathroom.) When lit up, the system can display multicoloured patterns and graphics reminiscent of '80s video game pixel graphics. (Or hey, anyone up for a game of Tetris?)
The sound system was also overhauled by U.K.'s Funktion One. (The lowdown: it now boasts eight Red3 three-way full-range loudspeakers, four F221 folded-horn subwoofers, MC2 amplifiers, XTA processors, and a crane song harmonic distortion generator.)
And there have been structural changes as well. Prol said that although they didn't want to change the building too much (it's a heritage building that was built in 1908 and has been a dance club throughout its entire existence), they did remove the awkward pillar in the centre of the dancefloor. Prol added that the additional removal of a pillar at the DJ booth will allow that area to be used as proper stage for things like their gay bingo nights, live bands, and more.
(As for other changes: smokers, take note that the indoor ventilated smoking room is history.)
While most of the previously existing evenings (Celebrities Famous Tuesdays, Faded Wednesdays, Stereotype Fridays) will continue on, Prol said that a new night will be Playhouse on Saturdays with DJs Timeline, Mar!no, Mattilda Ho, and Yurie. Prol admitted that Saturday has been "a tough cookie" for them but added that the new addition will become the flagship for the club.
He said he hopes it'll attract everyone from drag queens to guys in suits.
"I want it to have that kind of crazy vibe about it, where everybody feels comfortable but it’s a little edgy," he said.
The evolution of the club will help it to keep abreast of the social shifts the city has been undergoing. Prol, who previously was the marketing director for five years, has observed how the club scene has become increasingly integrated when it comes to straight and queer patrons.
"I feel like now, where before when I used to come to this club, we have gay people going to Venue and Shine, and it's weird because you just feel welcome everywhere where before it was a little more segregated where people went to their club. Now I feel it's not like that anymore. People go wherever they want. And it should be that way."
He said the club remains committed to its gay clientele, which he said now are coming from places far beyond the West End, such as the suburbs.
"Vancouver is a very open, forward-thinking city, and that's what we are too."
Prol was also optimistic about how the revamp will propel the establishment into the future.
"I feel what we've done here, I feel is going to put us on the map beyond Vancouver. I think we're going to be one of the best clubs in Western Canada. I'm really confident about that."
A grand opening weekend will be held on March 22 and 23.