The Backstage Lounge Didn't Close After All

backstage lounge is open


At the end of 2017, we were all scared to hear that the Backstage Lounge was fated to close at the end of the year. Following that sad news, we put together a fantastic show and sold out tickets for the Backstage Lounge closing party. 

It was a huge success with over 200 people and more drink specials than we all could swallow.

Then, news came of some interesting developments. The Backstage Lounge wasn't closing after all.

Now, before you jump to any conclusions, this wasn't one of those "We're closing, everything must go" situations like you see in that furniture store that has been "Permanently Closing" for 12 years. Here's what really is going on...

Firstly, you need to know a couple things:

  • The CMHC (the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation) basically owns Granville Island. They don't really, but they control virtually everything and all business that happens there. 
  • The Arts Club Theatre Company owns the Backstage Lounge

Sometime in 2017, the Arts Club Theatre Company decided that the Backstage Lounge, one of Vancouver's premier medium-scale live music venues that is completely vital to Vancouver's music scene, wasn't making enough money. Therefore, their board decided it would be better to close the Backstage Lounge and turn it into another restaurant with no live music.

This news came as a shock to the management and staff who had all been loyal to the lounge for years as they all loved specifically working in an environment with live music.

The Arts Club informed the Backstage Lounge in September of 2017 that they would have until the end of the year to operate normally, then they would be shut down, renovated and re-open as in Italian Bistro (with no live music).

At that point, the Phonix and the Backstage Lounge partnered to create the best closing party EVER and take the Backstage Lounge out with a bang.

Just days before the closing party on January 2, 2018, the Arts Club came to the Backstage Lounge with some news; they weren't going to close the lounge right away after all. 


Remember, the CMHC controls Granville Island...and they decided not to approve the Arts Club's request to renovate the Backstage Lounge. 

Good news, right?

Well, yes and no.

At this point, many staff from the Backstage Lounge had already moved on to other jobs and the Backstage Lounge didn't have any live entertainment booked for the coming months. Plus, we did such a great job of promoting the "Closing Party" that most Vancouverites now have it in their heads that Backstage Lounge is gone.

Needless to say, 2018 was a huge struggle for the Backstage Lounge. Very limited budgets have held them back from effectively letting the world know they're still open, bands think they're gone and staffing has been a challenge. 



Please come to our show. Heck, go see any show there. Help the place out. They have been a staple in the Vancouver live music scene for over 30 years. They are more accommodating to artists than anywhere else we have experienced in 10 years of performing music in Vancouver. They have given a chance to more artists than we could possibly count and their support of live music is an example that venues everywhere should be following.

If you're not in Vancouver and can't physically come to shows, please follow all our social media channels, share posts and comment. 

If you value live music, please spread this news and help support the live music at the Backstage Lounge as long as you can!




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1 comment

  • Come on, the Arts Club was mismanaged for years. It was a great club in the 80s and 90s. Back then they paid the bands. Now the only person that gets paid for sure is the soundman – AND the bands have to pay him! The Arts Club has not been promoting live music like they did back in the day when they booked great acts, and had line-ups down the block. The current version is a far cry from those days. Now it is all up to the bands to do all the promo and all the work, while the Arts Club makes the money – without any expense for the club. I, for one, will never support this crap. I was in the club when great bands were playing, and nobody was collecting covers at the door. Rightfully, the bands were furious about this. They were not allowed to supply their own collection person, as it had to be a “union” person. In addition folks who arrived early, were able to stay all night without paying any cover. Bands were losing big time. This establishment – being a “union” house should be forced to pay at least union wages to the musicians.

    Wilbur Smythe

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