Jamaican dancehall legend MR Vegas performing at Republic Nightclub (The Futurists)
"No Fun City" and Vancouver. Heard it all before. For years and years it seems people who "write for a living" have decided to just focus on the negative instead of the ever growing positives coming out of the Vancouver communities of artists + venues + organizers!
I am not saying our cultural scene is perfect. No city has a "perfect scene" or "perfect nightlife." There is drama everywhere but to say our WHOLE city is a No Fun City is a bit much these days.
Is Vancouver "No Fun"?
No. If you think so, you're literally not trying at all. You've given up and that's OK. Work is tough. Bills are high. Money is tight. TV is good enough. I get it. You're tired and want to stay home. Sometimes I want to do that forever too. That's why I have a big fancy TV and big fancy couch in a boring, overpriced apartment just like you. But just cuz you don't wanna make the effort does not mean the whole city is as asleep as you.
If you're looking for options they are everywhere. Let's not talk the obvious Granville Street strip because that is just the smallest drop in the Vancouver culture bucket. (Even though Granville Street has gems like The Templeton -- a vintage diner with smart-mouthed, pretty girls serving some of the best food this side of the Rockies -- and The Commodore and The Vogue hosting world famous talent on a nightly basis, let's not stamp the whole city D.O.A.)
Writing off all of the Greater Vancouver Area with over two-million plus individuals because of a bad evening in one or two neighbourhoods is no need to ring the worn out, and high and mighty No Fun City bell. Granville Street is one shiny, l'il street in Vancouver that connects to a lot of other very interesting streets in the city.
To find a good time, all you have to do is open an old-timey paper or download the app from The Georgia Straight or Westender or XtraWest or Beatroute or Discorder to ION papers or hop on the Facebook or Twitter and you'll be overloaded with events from hard-working local promoters risking their livelihood to bring in world-class, out-of-town and local talent to your front door.
From classical and traditional to the futuristic and experimental there is something for anyone willing to make the trip off the couch! From DIY East Vancouver events to the good life to the outdoor healthy life and everything mainstream and pervy in-between there is always something to do.
Dancing friends at Re-Up at LED Bar (Lindsaysdiet.com)
Is Vancouver an anti-social city?
Sure. Any place that spits cold-ass rain over 3/4 of the year and is overcast constantly is gonna drive people apart, and it's a wonder we don't have a Scandinavian-level suicide rate. Even one of our best local skateboard shops & art gallery spaces is named "Antisocial."
But every city is an anti-social city these days with everyone connected constantly to all things dorky via their phones x tablets x laptops. If everyone's real life was as active as their social media personalities -- for example people RSVP'ing for events online and not going to the actual event in person -- Vancouver's nightlife and cultural scene would be on par with NYC's & Ibiza on really good legal drugs.
But being that people are broke and can't afford to go out to everything available -- and it's cheaper to look cool on the internet than to support something in person during these "hard times" -- a lot of amazing events get missed and it results in artists possibly losing faith in our city and event organizers losing their shirts and not willing to risk producing future events.
You can use those anti social tools to your benefit and visit amazing sites like Vancouver Is Awesome or Winnie Cooper and learn what is going on all over Vancouver now! Spend a couple bucks less on takeout and mainstream movie tickets and a couple minutes less on your couch watching something you've already watched a million times. Your "No Fun City" attitude will disappear and your social calendar will be busting at the real-world seams.
Gypsy Vintage Night Market at Fortune Sound Club (The Futurists)
Are there problems with Vancouver's transit service, liquor laws and art funding?
CAPITAL YES! They all hold back culture and the general level of fun in this city to some degree. But blaming big city-wide and provincial problems like the total lack of late-night Skytrain transit, lack of overpriced taxi licenses being approved due to taxi companies and drivers not wanting an over swamped job market like Montreal & NYC, religion-influenced liquor regulations and how little B.C. funds its arts compared to other provinces is a crybaby's game!
There are unforgettable Vancouver events daily that still happen even under the shadow of the No Fun City umbrella of rules.
Rules will change for the better in time, but you must realize we are the youngest metropolis in North America. Comparing Vancouver to London's or NYC's or Beijing's nightlife and culture scene is like comparing a sunglasses-wearing baby who still pees itself to a very single good-looking, well-educated, well-employed 20-something who gets laid all the time and deciding who is cooler.
Vancouver is barely 100 years old while these larger cities have been developing their local culture communities for hundreds to thousands of years before us so we should be OK and not jealous that we are the new kids in town culturally speaking.
The way I see it is that there are many, many, many culture + event niches to be filled locally by a lot of very different people for a "hungry for it" audience. Sounds like a win-win for possible future culture upstarts and fans looking for something new.
Vancouver isn't perfect. Show me a city that is. But I do know we are FUN!
P.S. I'd rather be playing Jenga at The Brickhouse enjoying a locally made brew than watch another episode of The Office and eat chips out of a bag! What am I, an animal? Use a bowl and watch the amazing No Fun City documentary on Vancouver's nightlife struggles!
Follow Jason Sulyma on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mygayhusband