Monday, July 27, 2009

Richard's Last Stand

Richard's on Richards has hosted its last show and will be torn down at the end of July to make way for more of Vancouver's ubiquitous condos.

The closure of Richards marks the final chapter in the transition of this area of downtown from low-rise commercial and light-industrial. The long-demolished Starfish room, the Sugar Refinery, Luv-a-fair and Graceland all contributed to the city's musical landscape and all are gone.

The venerable Railway Club is still thriving but the trend is either to the East Side (The Biltmore) or the Downtown Eastside (The Emergency Room), where venues can rise and fall with the seasons, mostly due to the city's overly stringent by-laws and non-compliance on the part of operators. Other rooms (Red Room, the Plaza) operate infrequently enough as live music venues (focusing on the dance/club crowd) that any kind of sustained awareness is difficult.

It's hard to bemoan a more densified and rejuvenated downtown core, but there does need to be an assessment of Vancouver's cultural landscape. The risk in losing so many of these small, seemingly marginal spaces is a cumulative sterilization of our streets and a much less interesting city, for both tourists and its citizens.

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