Odyssey Nightclub finds new life in Vancouver's business district

Dec 19 2017, 1:34 pm

More than four years after closing its doors on Howe Street, a new Odyssey Nightclub is set to open its doors in downtown Vancouver’s Central Business District near Waterfront Station.

The second incarnation of the popular establishment for the region’s LGBTQ community will be located in the former space of Pop Opera at 686 West Hastings Street. The hurdles with acquiring a liquor license, business license and development permit were overcome last year and a spring 2015 opening is now anticipated.

It is a departure from the gay scene that has traditionally been centralized around the Davie Village area, but business owner and operator Bijan Ahmadian – a lawyer and the former president of the University of British Columbia’s Alma Mater Student Society – told Vancity Buzz welcoming inclusive spaces outside of the West End strip are needed.

“Davie Street will always be a focal point for Vancouver’s gay scene,” said Ahmadian. “But the reality is that we have fewer LGBTQ+ spaces in 2014 than we did in the 1980s… We believe this is the right time to begin to establish welcoming inclusive spaces outside of the Davie Village, something that we can call our own. ”

Ahmadian says accessibility was key for considering the new location of the nightclub as customers will come from all across the Lower Mainland – not only the West End. Within the immediate area, there are two SkyTrain lines, SeaBus, a night bus route and a major taxi artery.

The new space is designed to accommodate a range of show styles and fit 226 occupants within its 5,000 square foot area. It will feature both new and familiar elements such as a multi-purpose stage, performer green room, uni-sex washroom, dance poles and an upgraded shower for the return of “Shower Power.”

“Our design is a complete departure from the original Pop Opera,” said Ahmadian. “The plans were designed based on feedback from the community to reflect a diverse range of needs and uses. The design also incorporates different areas for customers to hang out and discover on their own, and includes a separate indoor ‘patio like’ space away from the main room with its own service bar.”

The entire project is financed by the same individual who funded the original Odyssey.

History of the Odyssey Nightclub

  • 1987: The Odyssey Nightclub opened at 1251 Howe Street, a building owned by John Lantzius until it was bought by the City of Vancouver for social housing during its last few years.
  • May 2008: The municipal government provided the Odyssey’s owners with a notice that their lease will not be renewed when it expires in 2009. The site will make way for a 12-storey, 110 unit supportive housing project dedicated for those living with HIV/AIDS.
  • April 2009:
    • The City of Vancouver received an overwhelming response from the community over the imminent closure of the Odyssey. It decided to extend the nightclub’s lease on a month-to-month basis to provide the owners time to find a new suitable location.
    • The proposal to relocate the Odyssey to 911 Denman Street is rejected by City Council due to opposition from West End residents.
  • September 2010: The Odyssey Nightclub at 1251 Howe Street closes its doors forever.
  • June 2011: The building that housed the original Odyssey Nightclub is demolished.
  • December 2014: Proponents for the new Odyssey Nightclub location at 686 West Hastings Street received approvals and permits from the City of Vancouver. Renovations on the former Pop Opera space will commence once a Building Permit has been granted.
  • Spring 2015: The Odyssey Nightclub will reopen.


Feature Image: Odyssey Bar

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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