I lived in Vancouver for around 15 years and I’m 34 now so I’ve got a pretty good vibe on its different night spots. Especially since last year I quit my job and didn’t do much beyond play poker and go out. Probably too much, my wallet and health would argue. So I decided to write a Vancouver Nightlife Guide, hopefully it will be useful to someone out there.
Vancouver is nice that it has a very central street called Granville where many popular bars reside. During summer and the busy times of year the street is walking traffic only. I’ve linked their yelp profiles for reference. Take what people say there with a grain of salt about clubs (a lot of haters); some places are shit on some nights though. Bars stay open until 2 or 3am (with the occasional 4am for some places on special holidays).
Info is up to date up until around Oct 2012.
Most bars have an event promoter that posts parties they have on clubzone (http://www.clubzone.com/h1/vancouver/nightlife.html). Great to know what’s happening at places on off-weekend days and where to avoid on weekends that will have huge cover and huge lines. Most weekend cover is between $15 and $20 for the busy clubs.
Some bars allow you to sign up for guest list on Clubzone. But it’s sometimes only valid until 11 or 12, and sometimes you’ll still have to pay cover (it’s only “VIP line”).
If you go out enough you’ll probably meet different promoters and bartenders that you can hit up for guest list (they want you to come spend money there). Sometimes I feel guilty about doing this when it’s the only contact we’ve recently had and I’m asking for something, but I keep remdining myself that it benefits them if they’re working and people come to the bar.
One problem with Vancouver that’s especially prolific in the summer is massive lineups at nearly all the popular clubs. For both the VIP and the regular lineup. Often friends of bouncers/staff will just skip both. Table service skips all lines but cheap bottles are expensive ($120++). Past 11:30 at night until 1:30, you can pretty much forget about walking into any of the clubs such as (Library Square, Venue, Republic, Ceilis, Caprice, Roxy, sometimes Barcelona) unless you want to wait in line for 1-2+ hours. Over time, bouncer rapport game can help at some venues which can be HUGE or sometimes greasing $20 if done smoothly can skip the line but you’ll still have to pay cover.
Cellar (http://www.yelp.ca/biz/the-cellar-nightclub-vancouver) I think still has different events on Monday that are very busy. In Winter they have apres ski events that people who go snowboarding etc. come to drink afterwards. There’s not much open. Just people that might be at pubs.
Go to Celebrities (http://www.yelp.ca/biz/celebrities-nightclub-vancouver). Line up can start getting long some days as early as 9:30 especially in summer. Mix of students and clubbers.
Cellar has live reggae which can be a good change sometimes but it wasn’t packed.
Starting to get a little busier. A few people at Cellar (DJ).
“Casa 967″ at Caprice (http://www.yelp.ca/biz/caprice-night-club-vancouver) is busy and packed with foreigners (usually student).
Ceili’s (http://www.yelp.ca/biz/ceilis-irish-pub-vancouver) is packed with people because of their dollar beer special. Expect long lines, many drunk people.
Cellar has a live band and is busy. Many foreigners again as promoters give out tickets for free near student housing. A lot of regulars come here each week.
Republic (http://www.yelp.ca/biz/republic-vancouver) will have people coming and gonig through the night, but they will probably only be open upstairs.
Everywhere is busy. Here are my preferred spots to hang out because you can usually get in without waiting a long time in line, slightly older crowd, better music.
Joseph Richard (http://www.yelp.ca/biz/joseph-richard-nightclub-vancouver). But good ratios sometimes and guys usually stand around a lot holding their drinks.
Barcelona (http://www.yelp.ca/biz/barcelona-ultra-lounge-vancouver) attractive crowd, decent ratios, reactions to being approached can range from friendly to ice princess.
Ginger 62 (http://www.yelp.ca/biz/ginger-62-vancouver). My favorite club in Vancouver – great staff, good music, great crowd (least douchy of the Granville strip bars). Since it’s near the end of the strip it gets a little less walk-in traffic of bro’s and ho’s. Gets busy but often is the right amount of full where you aren’t shoulder to shoulder shuffling around. A lot of non-VIP seating compared to most Granville bars (usually none). Take care of the bartenders and they’ll take care of you.
Sometimes if I’m not into going down to the strip I might go check out Pint and Vinyl (closest Skytrain is Stadium Station).
Pint (http://www.yelp.ca/biz/the-pint-public-house-vancouver) is a bar/pub that on Friday/Saturday that strangely has turned into a similar vibe/crowd as Yaletown Brewing Company (more on them later) – small dance floor, DJ booth, people standing around with drinks and mingling.
Vinyl (below Pint) (http://www.yelp.ca/biz/vinyl-retro-dance-lounge-vancouver) very young crowd, shorter lines, many UBC students. Top 40 / dance / 80s and 90s.
Republic has live reggae. I feel very white there sometimes. Worth checking out but line can get busy during peak hours.
Just next door is Roxy (http://www.yelp.ca/biz/the-roxy-vancouver) playing live country music. If you’re into that kind of thing. Crowd is a little older and can approach the cougar age. Best way to descrive Roxy would be a sports/rock/pickup bar.
Factory (http://www.yelp.ca/biz/the-factory-vancouver) – cheap drink specials, friendly bartenders, and nearly everything on the menu is $6. Notable since most entrees downtown could run $12-$15… You can’t walk around with a drink but if you’re at the bar you can open people next to you.
(Similar to Factory is http://www.yelp.ca/biz/famous-warehouse-vancouver nearby).
Cellar – I’ve mentioned it a few times because it’s open every day but Sunday. Next door is a hostel so there’s a lot of internationals that come here. In the back is stairway upstairs to Doolin’s so you can go back and forth to check out both spots.
Yaletown Brewing Company – bar with a pool table that was known for a long time as a good place to pickup with mixed crowd of some yuppies and randoms. I wouldn’t recommend it anymore as there’s too many pickup dudes, gets too crowded, hard to get a drink, hard to move around. Pint has become a better place to go now.
Roxy – it’s open every day of the week, so if you’re here and it’s a random Tuesday or something and nothing else appears to be happening, it’s worth checking out.