Located smack in the middle of the action in Granville Street’s Entertainment District, Caprice Nightclub is one Vancouver’s biggest and best nightclubs, and the only Vegas-style venue in the city. Having hosted everyone from Avicii, Afrojack, Axwell & Justice to name a few now launches into its second decade providing party seekers with the best in dance club experiences, the legendary nightclub will be celebrating its 11th anniversary this Thursday, May 1st.
However, The Caprice wasn’t always what we know it as today – a humming nightclub with a line of eager faces down the block each week. We caught up with owners Bill and Chris Kerasiotis to take a look back at the genesis of The Caprice and its evolution into the hottest dance club on Granville Street.
How did the Caprice begin?
Bill: I’m sure not many people know this, but it actually used to operate as a chief movie theatre in the city for about 60 years. It was called The Caprice Showcase theatre and was one of the largest buildings on Granville Street. But it ended up closing down in 1988 – so the space had just been sitting there for years. But back in 2003, Granville Street was being rezoned to become a designated Entertainment District and the new hotspot for nightclubs. We had our eye on the Theatre space, and saw a massive opportunity to join the scene.
Chris: We already owned a couple of other smaller bars at the time – Luv a Fair on Seymour and Graceland on Richards. Popularity wasn’t an issue with them, but we saw greater potential on Granville Street and knew competition to get in would be fierce, so we had to make some quick decisions. We combined the liquor licenses from the two clubs and were able to snag the Caprice Theatre space. Suddenly we were owners of The Caprice Nightclub, the first large-scale nightclub on the Granville Entertainment strip.
How did you transform a movie theatre into a nightclub?
Bill: [laughs] Oh man, when we took it over, it was completely run-down. We had to gut and revamp the entire interior – but we chose to maintain the nostalgic tones of the outer facade. Of course, being a movie theatre, the floor was slanted for movie theatre seats, so we leveled off the sloping floor and created a dance floor on top of it. So every one who dances at The Caprice is still dancing on top of the old sloping theatre. We also boarded up the projection room and sealed it off from the club – so that still lives within The Caprice walls.
Chris: Saying we had to gut it is an understatement. We definitely knew we needed to start fresh and as this was the first project Bill and I worked on together, we took it seriously. Our biggest concern was creating a big room with a large dance floor where the lighting, audio and visual components would consistently create an epic dance experience. We also designed a new upstairs veranda-like area, to give some variety and dimension to the club.
What was the vision for bringing The Caprice to life?
Bill: In 2003, most clubs in the city were alternative with a focus on grunge and rock and roll music. So we wanted to create a place that was a bit more upscale, but that could appeal to everyone. Chris and I have partied in a lot of cities – from Greece to Vegas – and one thing we noticed is that the dance-floor is always buzzing. So we took inspiration from that, with the music, to layout and décor, and injected this into The Caprice.
Chris: Our goal was to make The Caprice a true dance club and to stay true to what a nightclub really is – and we’ve always maintained that. So, we transitioned into offering Top 40 Music that appeals across multiple tastes and gets people moving. Dance clubs seem to be a dying breed in Vancouver, but after 11 years, The Caprice continues to have a packed dance floor week after week – so we know that people still want to get out, listen to some great music and dance the night away.
What do you think continues to make The Caprice a success?
Bill: Vancouver is a city that continues to evolve, and where people are always looking for the newest or trendiest things – especially in the nightlife scene – so seeingTheCaprice remain a staple on Granville Street for 11 years is a big accomplishment for us. I think this is a testament to the care we put into always striving to keep things fresh and giving our guests the best in music, advanced lighting and sound, exciting events and just providing that memorable experience for everyone who walks through our doors.
Chris: At the end of the day it’s the people who drive the longevity and success of a nightclub. It’s important to us to take care of our customers and this sentiment passes down the line to our management and staff. We have a great base of regular clientele – we’re still seeing people from 5-6 years ago who continue to show up – it’s amazing to us to see our family extend beyond the people who work on our team.