Know Your History - The Roxy

For the past 17 years, the Roxy has been one of Vancouver's most insanely successful nightclubs. Before it became a place where people live life like it's a beer commercial, the Granville Street location attracted those looking for quality food and handcrafted furniture.

"It was home to Love's Skillet, which was one of the five most successful restaurants in Vancouver during the heyday of theatre row," says the building's former owner, Ed Martin. "The other half of the room was occupied by Vogue Furniture."

In the late '60s, Vogue was replaced by Jack's Hanging Tree, one of the first rooms granted a cabaret licence. In 1980, Jack's took over the entire room.

"My father went through a number of formats-everything from Top 40 bands to go-go dancers to strippers," says Ed's son Peter, now the general manager of the Roxy. "Back then, Granville was a pretty rough and tough neighbourhood."

When current Roxy owner Blaine Culling bought the building in the late '80s, it was home to the Venue, an alternative club booking local acts like a pre-major label Art Bergmann and touring punk groups such as Montreal's Asexuals.

"It wasn't doing very well," Culling says. "I'd just come back from a year in Los Angeles and thought the city was ready for a live rock 'n' roll club with a house band. People thought I was crazy."

When the newly rechristened Roxy reopened, its house band, the Dawn Patrol packed the new dance floor with note-for-note covers of rock classics like "Twist & Shout". Today, Joe's Garage and Dr. Strangelove carry on that tradition.

"What people want is something that's familiar, where they know the songs," Culling says, when asked for the secret to the room's success, "They want a place where they don't have to learn a bunch of new dance steps to have fun."