Known among frequenters lovingly as Celebs, Celebrities Nightclub has been an inclusive, progressive mainstay on the Vancouver dance, DJ, and bar circuit since it opened its doors at 1022 Davie Street. Which, impressively, was officially 115 years ago.
Built in 1908 by celebrated architect Thomas Hooper (who notably designed Victoria’s stunning St. Ann’s Academy), the building first housed one of the city’s original dancing halls (under the names Lester Court and then the Lester Dancing Academy, respectively). From there, it turned into the Embassy Ballroom dancing club (1940s); Dante’s Inferno rock club and then psych band hotspot Retinal Circus, with an after-hours club in the basement that hosted greats including Janis Joplin and The Doors (1960s); and a strip club (1970s).
It was then purchased in the 1970s by the Kerasiotis brothers, who are second-generation Greek immigrants (the Kerasiotis family opened Kitsilano’s Olympia Pizza, as well as the beloved but now-closed Luvafair, and currently runs Blueprint. They are a busy bunch).
The Kerasiotis brothers transformed the space into Celebrities, making it what we know it as today: a great place to see a great DJ, to dance, to properly be yourself and give no fucks in a city that sometimes feels like it’s trying way too hard. (As the Club Kid era came to a close, the City forced Celebrities to shut for a few years in the late ‘90s and early 2000s to renovate, but it’s been going strong ever since.)
“Celebrities has always, funnily enough, been on the cutting edge of whatever was trending in club entertainment in this town,” Ron Dutton, archivist and founder of the BC Gay & Lesbian Archives, said in a statement to the Vancouver Heritage Foundation. “It was never the staid place to go—it was the place to be seen and to socialize with the most progressive clubbers.”
So while it’s changed names more times than Sean Combs, what has maintained throughout the century is the venue’s focus on facilitating a healthy nightlife—something Vancouver desperately needs.
Celebrities is hosting a birthday party on November 14, from 10pm until late. A group photo will be taken at 11:30pm to recreate the one from November 14, 1923.