by Charlotte Karp
Vancouver was founded on alcohol.
Boom. I said it.
It’s not exactly a secret — more a fact that everyone has chosen to forget and one that’s continually being unearthed by Vancouver-specialist and cool-historian-guy, Aaron Chapman.
“The general perception of Vancouver has only recently morphed into images of a pretty girl running down a condo-lined street to her Yoga class while trying not to spill her designer coffee, but there’s a deeper, darker Vancouver — not just the squalor of Hastings Street,” says Chapman.
Chapman has been writing about Vancouver for around 15 years and is a human-repository of all things shocking, amazing, and just plain cool: did you know Louis Armstrong was denied a hotel room downtown? The Guinness family helped build the Lions Gate Bridge? The Commodore Ballroom’s dance floor literally had jitterbugging in the ‘30s and ‘40s? And Howard Hughes (super-eccentric airplane guy who bottled his own pee) stayed at the Westin Bayshore, didn’t leave his room for six months, and you can now stay in the Howard Hughes Suite for a measly $2,500 per-night?
“There are stories shocking, surprising, hilarious, and unbelievable in Vancouver’s past (and present) that get overlooked by the way real estate agents want to sell a bright, shimmering town,” Chapman adds. “My Vancouver starts at sundown, and the history of Vancouver after dark has some stories people just wouldn’t believe.”
You can learn about these things (and oh so much more) from Chapman himself on November 16 at Vancouver After Dark, held at Vancouver Lookout. He’ll be pointing out the places he’s talking about, reading excerpts from his books Live at the Commodore and Liquor, Lust, and T=the Law, and showing a range of exclusive posters and photographs from those eras.
“A lot of people just have a clean image of Vancouver, which goes hand in hand with what we used to be given as a Chamber of Commerce view of what created the city — sanitized ideas of what defined Vancouver and how the town came to be,” Chapman says. “In reality, this town was built on beer-swilling tough people and lawbreakers — and tough people who beat up the lawbreakers.”
Vancouver After Dark takes place on November 16 at Vancouver Lookout. Bookings essential.entertainment, History