News that East Vancouver’s historic Waldorf Hotel will be closing on Jan. 20, to be replaced by a condo development, hit Vancouver culture lovers hard on Wednesday. Despite falling on hard times in step with the misfortunes of the nearby Downtown Eastside, the Waldorf has been praised for its live event space and tiki bar since re-opening in 2010. It was widely seen as a cultural hub for a revitalized East Vancouver.
What memories of the Waldorf Hotel will stay with you? The Globe and Mail wants to share these stories with your fellow readers. Fill out the form below and we’ll pick some responses to share. If you like, include your contact details in case a reporter wants to follow up for a story (we won’t share your information with anyone else).
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Below is a summary of the responses we've received so far, in some cases excerpted or edited for clarity.
We held our campaign victory party at the Waldorf when Adrian Dix became the Leader of the BCNDP. At the end of a long campaign, amidst the last few weeks, the staff at the Waldorf were so patient, kind, and accommodating. The party itself was a great success. I will miss this venue very much.
— Amanda va Baarsen, Hastings-Sunrise area
Many memories: At the age of five we lived in my grandparents' house which was located across the street (now a vacant lot). The house faced the "Ladies and Gents" entrance, and my uncle would cut flowers from the garden and take me over to the entrance, where I would sell the flowers as he kept an eye on me from the porch. He tells me we made a lot of money (I got paid with ice cream)
In 1968 when I became legal to enter pubs, the Waldorf was the place that me and my friends went to on a regular basis. We were a group of guys that grew up in the East End -- many of us were longshoremen. I remember the many breakfasts I had downstairs after "plugging in" at the Longshoremans hall before and after Dispatch, and on paydays (Thursdays) lining up in the pub to get my cheque cashed, which many times resulted in getting home late for dinner.
This was our home beer parlour. When we wanted to find our buddies we just went to the Waldorf. We preferred the Lounge, it was a classy place with the twinkling stars in the ceiling and the great decor. We had many a good times there and in the beer parlour also. The cast of characters that frequented the Waldorf were a colourful bunch: bookies, bandits, etc.
I remember weddings, parties and my stag down in the large reception room downstairs. I remember the great dinners we had in the banquet room. And in these latter years we have had birthday get-togethers there and a few memorials. For me and my friends the Waldorf will have a special place in our hearts and will always be remembered. Sorry to see it go. Won't be the same as we drive down Hastings and not see The Waldorf Hotel there. Thanks for the memories.
— George Matkovich, Maple Ridge
In 2011/2012 I helped organize and host the first ever Polaris Prize listening salons held outside of Toronto at the Waldorf Hotel. We had everyone from Dan Mangan, to The Pack AD, to Kathryn Calder, to Devin Townsend come in to talk about their albums with the Vancouver Music Media/Polaris Jury members and for the general public to hear the albums start to finish. FREE events for the public with some of Vancouver's biggest names in music.
The Waldorf was a perfect host for this, and even held the short list announcement in the summer (the first time this happened outside of Toronto).
I had the pleasure of being a part of this amazing project with the Waldorf, as well as many of the shows, arts events, and dining experiences it's offered this city. It's a shame to lose this place, especially to condos, in an area that THEY built up. In a city that need MORE live music venues, not less, we're taking a big blow.
— Christine McAvoy, South Granville area
I'm supposed to pick just one?! There are too many, and I didn't even go that often. Every time was memorable.
- 2012 PuSh Festival opening gala that I organized.
- 2012 Halloween - so many great people were there, the building was buzzing. Filled with so many different 'types' of people.
- East Van Soul Club - one of the best dance parties I've ever been to.
- Performing at various cabarets in the basement - especially Blues and Haikus.
— Sara Bynoe, Mt. Pleasant area
My favourite nights were the Legendary Long Weekend parties every long weekend at the Waldorf. So many good memories and new friendships bonded in a unique venue with some of Vancouver's most talented DJs. The Waldorf was a gem in the city that those who knew about felt they were truly a part of something special!
— Michelle Santos, Kitsilano
I have a lot of great memories of going to the Waldorf over the years. They always booked great acts for the Cabaret, the Tiki Bar is amazing, and Nuba is one of my favorite restaurants in town. They were an artist friendly venue. They would let me into shows for free, as a contributing member of the local art scene, and not even expect me to write something for them. In many respects, they were by and for artists in a myriad of mediums, from food and hair to installations and all manner of performances.
I caught the last day of the New Forms Festival there in 2011, and loved the Food Cart Fest this summer in their parking lot. The Polaris Music Prize did all of their Vancouver Listening Salons there too. Plus, Ty Segall and White Fence last May was the best show I experienced in all of 2012, hands down.
— Alan Ranta, Commercial Drive area
The "Wally" as we used to call it, was the first place I ever got served beer. We used to go there after softball games with the General Paint team. I was the youngest on the team and the "Wally" was a coming of age place for me - back in 1977! The staff would give you a wink and fill up the terry-cloth covered tables with as many glasses as they would hold.
— David Counsell, Port Moody
Oh my goodness. Where to start? The night my Waldorf cherry popped... The Chameleon Lounge. Cozy, elegant, old world cocktail and music. Nothing like it, never since. East Van Academy community memories of wine and barbecue. Hollyhock gatherings in my good friend Steve and his crew's Tiki Lounge. Cocktails again and young coconut too! Sad day for the East Vancouver community and for Vancouverites who grew up here, the ones who came later, plus the ones who have not yet arrived. So long to a Vancouver institution and a part of our heritage.
— Ali Hui, Vancouver
I met my (now ex) boyfriend there. We talked for ages downstairs, he kissed me outside, I ran away without giving him my number and was kicking myself for it for a week. I decided to write an I Saw You ad and he had already written one for me. Thanks Waldorf, if it wasn't for you I would have missed out on 8 months of lovely memories.
— Heather H, Mt. Pleasant area
The Waldorf Hotel was a true gem in a city that is seriously lacking cultural and smaller event spaces. After collaborating with the Waldorf for the East Van Bazaar, which housed over 40 local artists, designers and artisans, I saw first hand the revenue they generated for local businesses as well as the overwhelmingly positive response from the 700 guests, including many families and children. It's incredibly sad to see this happen to an amazing venue that contributed so much to local arts and culture.
— Jamie Gill, East Vancouver
I have been to the Waldorf many times, so when my sister was visiting it was easy to recommend checking out the famous Tiki Bar room.
When we arrived we were told the Tiki Bar was closed but with a wink and a wave my sister and I were ushered through several doors and into a dark room, with a click the ceiling lit up with thousands of little lights and as my eyes came into focus I could see we were in the Tiki room. The manager at the time told us to look around and he would be back in a few minutes.
We ended up having about 10-15 minutes of time, alone in the Tiki room, we checked out the treasure trove of artwork behind glass and remarking on what a great space it was.
What a shame for all of Vancouver to lose yet another landmark. One less cultural centre and Vancouver continues to allow itself to turn into a cultural desert. One less condo development and no one notices and no one cares.
— Alexander Baron, Mount Pleasant