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History Social History

Vancouver After Dark

The Wild History of a City's Nightlife

by (author) Aaron Chapman

Arsenal Pulp Press
Initial publish date
Nov 2019
Social History, British Columbia (BC), History & Criticism, Post-Confederation (1867-)
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2019
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jun 2020
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


BC Book Prize winner (Bill Duthie Booksellers' Choice Prize)

In his latest book, bestselling author, musician, and cultural historian Aaron Chapman looks back at the most famous music entertainment venues in Vancouver, a city that's transforming so fast it has somehow lost some of its favourite nightspots along the way. These are the places locals are still talking about years after they closed, burned down, or were bulldozed in the face of new trends, rising rents, gentrification, and other vagaries. This raucous book tours Vancouver's legendary hot spots, from the Cave to Isy's, Oil Can Harry's to the Marco Polo, the Luv-A-Fair, the Town Pump, the Smilin' Buddha, and Gary Taylor's Rock Room, from the city's earliest saloons to the Chinatown cabarets, punk palaces, East End dives, goth hideaways, discotheques, and taverns. Archival posters and photos, many published for the first time, chronicle how the city's nightlife changed with times, and how some of these nightspots ushered in changes to Vancouver. Are the great days of Vancouver's nightlife behind us? Or does it endure in new side streets and new spaces and new forms that have resisted the changes in other parts of the city? Now's the time to look back at the nightspots that shaped Vancouver, and how its residents shaped those venues.

Replete with full-colour photographs and posters from back in the day, Vancouver after Dark is a no-holds-barred history that amply demonstrates how this was never "No Fun" City - at least once the sun went down.

About the author

Aaron Chapman is a writer, historian, and musician with a special interest in Vancouver's entertainment history. He is the author of Vancouver After Dark: The Wild History of a City's Nightlife, winner of the Bill Duthie Booksellers' Choice Award (BC Book Prizes) in 2020; The Last Gang in Town, the story of Vancouver's Clark Park Gang; Liquor, Lust, and the Law, the story of Vancouver's Penthouse Nightclub, now available in a second edition; Vancouver Vice: Crime and Spectacle in the City's West End; and Live at the Commodore, a history of the Commodore Ballroom that won the Bill Duthie Booksellers' Choice Award (BC Book Prizes) in 2015 (a new edition appears in 2023). In 2020 he was elected as a member of the Royal Historical Society. He lives in Vancouver.

Aaron Chapman's profile page


  • Winner, BC Book Prize (Bill Duthie Booksellers' Choice Prize)

Editorial Reviews

Think you know Vancouver? Well, Eve Lazarus has some stories for you. Fond, funny, and fizzing with some of the most fascinating people and places, Vancouver Exposed is a highly readable and revelatory cultural history chock-a-block with as many illuminating photos as insights into the city itself. -Aaron Chapman, author of Vancouver after Dark

Aaron Chapman and his team at Arsenal Pulp have succeeded beautifully in detailing the stories of the places Vancouverites went to have fun. Buttressed admirably by strong graphic material; a smorgasbord of a book. -Ormsby Review

A fantastically detailed history of nightlife in Vancouver, spanning eras and cultures, with unique and surprising stories and insights into what Vancouver was like, what interested people, and the special places that existed in the past. -Robert Shea, editor, Discotext Magazine

Through stunning archival photos, old flyers and posters, news clippings, and interviews with everyone from promoters and former owners to musicians and club staffers, Chapman provides a window into a long-gone past. As a cultural document, the result is every bit as illuminating and important as the work of Fred Herzog. -Georgia Straight

One thing that Vancouver After Dark makes abundantly clear is that places come and go with frequency. From such East Side cabarets as the New Delhi, where mixed-race rockers like the Hi-Fives filled the dance floor, to any number of comic legend Tommy Chong's clubs back in the sixties. -Vancouver Sun

Chapman has previously written about Vancouver nightlife in his award-winning book Live At the Commodore and his bestselling debut Liquor, Lust, and the Law (about the Penthouse). This time he has vastly expanded his scope, pouring out the sagas of dozens of nightclubs, bars and dance halls through the ages, every place from the Cave to the Starfish Room, Oil Can Harry's to the Smilin' Buddha. It's a book you can enjoy reading from page one onward, or opening at any section and reading about, say, the outrageous history of Gary Taylor's Rock Room, or the blurry goings on at the Pig & Whistle. Aaron Chapman has emerged as this city's foremost historian of the entertainment circuit. -Vancouver Is Awesome

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