Unfortunately, the end of a long journey has arrived for one of Vancouver’s LGBT nightlife institutions.
In a statement released today (April 14), the Odyssey Bar and Nightclub announced that its last day will be June 30. The closure will occur a month before Vancouver Pride Week, which takes place prior to the Vancouver Pride parade on August 5.
“As Vancouver has been our home for almost 30 years, we have had the honour of being a safe inclusive LGBTQ+ space for many in the community and visiting abroad,” the statement read. “It has been a distinct pleasure of hosting some of the best and iconic events over the past few years that have brought so much energy and excitement.”
The club also thanked fans, supporters, artists, staff, promoters, and attendees. The Georgia Straight has contacted the Odyssey for further information.
The new venue recreated some features from its previous location, such as the Shower Power stall featuring male strippers.
The original venue was located at 1215 Howe Street (at Davie Street), which closed down on September 5, 2010, after over 20 years of operation there. The club had to close and move as that site was being converted into a social housing project.
A search for a new location took place over several years. An application to the city to move to 911 Denman Street was rejected after the proposal faced resistance due to noise concerns from residents.
The West Hastings location, the former location of Pop Opera and the Hard Rock Café, was outside of both the Davie Village and the West End, where Vancouver’s LGBT businesses have traditionally been based in.
In March 2016, Bijan Ahmadian, who launched the new Odyssey, stepped down as owner. His departure occurred in the wake of controversy that arose over his alleged involvement in the hiring of private investigators to use hidden cameras at events held by the artist-run Vancouver Art and Leisure (VAL).
In November 2015, Ahmadian told CTV News that he was concerned about safety issues at the events.
Regarding the new location of the club, Ahmadian had told the Georgia Straight in 2015 that many people had cited how in the 1980s, there had been many LGBT venues that existed around town and that they wanted to see more of that again.
"People have always told us, when we did the consultation around the location, that they wanted to see something outside of Davie Village," he said. "We want to create a space that will help the LGBTQ people feel that they have a safe place to go to, that they call home."
The news arrives only weeks after the Vancouver Pride Society announced on April 4 that it would cancel this year's Davie Street Party, which takes place during Pride season, due to policing costs and a deficit.
Meanwhile, the queer-inclusive Cobalt Cabaret at 917 Main Street, which hosts numerous LGBT events, is slated to undergo renovations required by the city. As a result, the cabaret has stopped booking shows beyond April 30 and the future of the venue remains uncertain.
On the other hand, the previously mentioned VAL, which has moved multiple times over the years, has established a new location at the Lab at 101 West 6th Avenue. The collective was forced to move as their previous venue was damaged by a suspected arson fire in January.More