Although Vancouver lost one of its more vibrant cultural venues with the closure of the Waldorf Hotel two months ago, the people who used to run the place appear to be as busy as ever.
Last week, three of the main players behind Waldorf Productions — Ernesto Gomez, Thomas Anselmi and Danny Fazio — announced a new partnership with Rickshaw Theatre owner David Duprey to turn the seedy Fox Cinema porn theatre on Main Street into a new live entertainment space later this year.
The creative events team also recently renamed themselves Arrival, and new projects coming up include curating this year’s Khatsalano! Music and Art Festival and serving up a new version of the popular Food Cart Festival held on Sundays last summer in the Waldorf’s parking lot.
“We all had so much fun at the Waldorf and it was such a big success in so many ways, I think the second it fell apart we still wanted to keep our team together,” said Fazio. “As we continue on as a company and take on new projects, we wanted to take on a new name that wasn’t associated with the hotel.”
He said that while Khatsalano! founder and Zulu Records owner Grant McDonagh will once again take care of the music business, Arrival will be there to handle the art displays and other cultural events for the free public event that last July saw roughly 50,000 people hit the 10-block stretch along West Fourth Avenue between MacDonald and Burrard. He added the arrangement should be an easy fit because McDonagh produced the debut album for Anselmi’s notorious punk band Slow back in the ’80s and the two have remained friends over the years.
“Basically, they saw a hole in their programming and said ‘OK, we’re great with the bands and we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing, but as far as cultural programming, the arts, we could use a bit of help.’ They loved what we did at the Waldorf and we’re going to be coming in to fill that void,” said Fazio.
He said they haven’t yet secured a location for a new edition of Food Cart Fest but he hopes it will be close to the Fox in Mount Pleasant, a neighbourhood he admits is a more obvious fit for them.
“Everybody was always saying about the Waldorf that it was in the middle of nowhere, so to be able to find a place right in the heart of what I think is the hippest area of the city, it is so thrilling to us.”
The group takes possession of the Fox on Aug. 1, and Fazio said the approximately 400-seat, two-storey venue seems better suited to turning a profit than the cavernous Waldorf Hotel, although the dilapidated XXX theatre will need thorough scrubbing and renovating (not to mention a liquor license) before opening.
“We are going to go in there with Hazmat suits and kerosene and just really clean it up,” he said with a laugh. “It is a great size, a great location and just one room to program for instead of multiple rooms.”