I took this top photo a couple of weeks ago, when I believed the subject of it, The Velvet Underground nightclub, had closed down for good and was in the process of being converted into a wine bar. My plan when I took the shot was to use it to illustrate a post about the loss of a place that I’d loved and had had the best times at. I distinctly remember the sad feeling when I read back in August, about its closing. Based on the feedback, lots of others felt the same way.
Having been open for over 20 years, The Velvet Underground is probably the place in which I’ve spent the most time, aside from school, home and work. There was a period when I’d go there almost every week on either Friday or Saturday night. I loved the new music they played on the weekends — rock, indie and electronica — and also liked the inclusive and laid-back environment. It was a fun place to be.
In recent years, there was no doubting that The Velvet’s high-times had passed, though. This was evident in how run-down it had been allowed to become by its owners, The Liberty Entertainment Group — the washrooms were a nightmare, only to be entered in case of emergency! Also, the crowds had dwindled down dramatically, which was quite noticeable the last Saturday night we’d been there last April.
I’m not sure if the people stopped going because the place had been left to its own demise and gone downhill, or if it had been abandoned by management because the people were no longer interested in going there.
But clearly, its time had come and gone and it wasn’t a surprise to find out it was shutting down. That didn’t stop the feeling of loss and every time I’ve passed its darkened windows in the last four months, I’ve almost glimpsed the ghosts of my past flitting around behind them.
These pictures were taken in October 2015, while it was closed and reportedly being converted into a wine bar …
Here’s a shot of it in 2012 …
For fun, here’s a picture taken in 1958, that includes part of the building. The space had been a department store back then …
Then, over the weekend, I got an email from my sister asking if we’d like to go dancing at The Velvet in a few weeks. My immediate impulse was to write back to say that I would love to be able to do that, however The Velvet was closed. Knowing my sister though, and that she wouldn’t be asking me out to a place that had been closed for months, I checked the web to see what was going on before responding. And lo and behold, have found out that the old club has been taken over by new management, Embrace Presents. The reopening night is February 12th!
Embrace is a company that has been doing excellent work in promoting live music around the city for years. According to their facebook page : “Embrace is a live music company that specializes in producing concerts, festivals, touring and sponsorships. Embrace was formed in 2003 and has produced over 2000 live events since inception throughout North America and is regarded as an industry leader in cutting-edge music genres.”
Apparently, they were looking for a venue in which to host smaller shows, and approached the Velvet’s former owners when they heard plans were to shut it down. They’ve taken over, and behind the wooden barriers covering the windows, massive renovations are going on right now. The plan, as I understand it, is to primarily have ticketed live shows there, but there will also be DJd dance nights too. So, not only will we still be able to go dancing there, we will also be able to see live bands. Such good news!
So, with a date to be there during the opening weekend, I am a happy person. I’ll be sure to take some pictures of the new/old place to show you.
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