A big crowd to support a possible new venue for performers was music to the ears of organizers.
On March 4, the Victoria Curling Club lounge was packed for an open house in support of a potential new venue in the club’s lounge located at 1952 Quadra St.
The lounge, which can accommodate 180 people, made a major step forward as a venue on Jan. 13 when the City of Victoria approved a primary licence that will allow the club to serve liquor without Curling Club members present.
The application now goes to the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch for approval, which could take a few months, said Paul Dixon, general manager and bookings manager of Victoria Curling Club.
Big names have played the curling rink in the past, including Dave Matthews Band, Metric, Deftones and the Pixies, but this will be the first time there will be a smaller venue in the lounge.
The open house for the new venue on March 4 featured a Q & A with Dixon and drew in a larger crowd than was expected.
“This is a fantastic group turnout,” Dixon said at the event. “Really, really surprised.”
The overall energy at the open house was buzzing, particularly from local rock, punk and metal musicians who have been hard-pressed for finding venues.
“It has potential to be the place where people go,” said Caleb Belknap, who is a local heavy metal musician.
“It’s exactly what Victoria needs right now,” said Belknap. “Speaking from the perspective of more of the hard rock music scene, I think Victoria is starting to slouch in that aspect. Promoters are having difficulties booking shows because everywhere is so expensive.”
When Dixon broke down the rental cost for inquiring musicians, he was met with cheers from the crowd. He said venue rental is free if $750 is spent at the bar during a show and $500 if the amount spent is less.
Now that “support from the musical community has been mind-blowing” according to Dixon, there are several factors at play to determine when and if the venue will take flight. The liquor licence must be approved, the club has to acquire funding and renovations need to be completed.
Funding may be available through the city’s Cultural Infrastructure Grant, according to Coun. Matt Dell, who attended the meeting in support of the venue. He said the club would be able to apply for $50,000 from that fund.
Dixon said the hope is to be able to do renovations by late summer to support music in the venue, including building a stage and installing sound equipment. In terms of when the space could be viable for performances: “We’re looking at late July, that’s very very tentative but that’s what we’re looking at.”
Once open, Dixon said the venue will serve all genres “from punk to polka” and he is “absolutely” open to non-music events like comedy.
To give a sense of how the venue will mix with the curling league, Dixon said there are two Friday night curling leagues, one that ends at 7 p.m. and one that ends at 9 p.m., and that they have test run a few live music shows starting at 9:30 p.m.
“I see it as being a symbiotic relationship that is good for both communities,” Dixon said.
“If they’re happy with the music, they’ll hang out. If they’re not happy, they’ll leave – that’s fine. But we don’t want to exclude anybody from the space.”