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Commodore Cabaret

Commodore Ballroom. 'Grande Dame of Vancouver City Nightlife'. Opens in 1924 as the Commodore Cafe at street level on Granville Street. With a bright light-bulb projection sign above the entrance, curtained booths, gramophone and outback linoleum floors for dancing. Owners Johnny Dillias and Nick Kogos. The Cabaret is constructed upstairs in 1929 by George Reifel, prohibition era booze baron, and operates without a liquor license until 1970. Tablecloths hang to the floor. Patrons bring their own bottles or flasks...standard practice...a red light flashes if the police are on their way up the stairs. Everyone places their booze under the table and takes to the dance floor. The police take a few and leave. There is a kind of conspiratorial camaraderie amongst revellers, a link, now long gone. Johnny and Marion Dillias, having run Happy Land Pavillion at Exhibition Park racetrack, both 'carnies at heart' manage the Commodore for four decades. In 1968 Winnipeg native Drew Burns arrives to revamp the cabaret and open the venerable Commodore Ballroom with the venue's first liquor license, and becomes 'den father' for a thirty year run. Brass railings, hanging chandeliers, mosaic arches, all those classy chips and scratches, nicks and notches, and walls that simply 'speak a vibe.' Commodore remains a world-class dance floor...rumoured to be originally built upon a four-foot base of boxcar springs, sliced-up truck tires and burlap bags of horsehair, giving it an amazingly springy feel to dance upon. Vancouver's 'best original music club.' A live-music mecca.