Commodore Ballroom

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Commodore Ballroom
Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver.JPG
Former namesCommodore Cabaret
Address868 Granville Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Coordinates49°16′50″N 123°7′15″W / 49.28056°N 123.12083°W / 49.28056; -123.12083
OwnerLive Nation
Seating typeStanding room and table seating
OpenedDecember 1929, reopened November 12, 1999
Closed1930, 1996–99
Construction costC$3.5 million renovation

Commodore Ballroom is a renowned music venue, dance floor and nightclub located on 800 block of Granville Street in Vancouver, British Columbia. The building was built in the Art Deco style of the late 1920s by George Conrad Reifel and designed by architect H.H. Gillingham.[1][2] Best known for showcasing special performances, the venue is also famous for its sprung dance floor,[1] whose horsehair lining absorbs, rather than reflecting back, some of the impact of dancers' feet. At the time it was installed, only a few venues in the world had similar floors.[2]

The general-admission ballroom accommodates approximately 990 guests (including standing room and table seating).[1]

The building's street level was built for retail outlets, some of them in their time also notable. Downstairs, below street level, is the Commodore Lanes, a vintage bowling alley and poolroom.


The building opened in December 1929 as the Commodore Cabaret.[3] With the onset of the Great Depression, the venue briefly closed four months later. It reopened in November 1930, and has since operated under several different owners as one of Vancouver's premier entertainment venues.[4]

From 1936 to 1939, shows by bandleader Charlie Pawlett (d. 1981), originally of Nanaimo and a trumpet and violin player, were broadcast on CJOR radio.[5]

Sammy Davis Jr. played The Commodore in 1948, and was interviewed there by CKMO radio host Wilf Ray.[6] Other notable acts in following decades included Duke Ellington and Tommy Dorsey.[7]

In 1969, management of The Commodore was taken over by Drew Burns,[8] launching an era which saw the ballroom transformed into a major rock'n'roll venue.

The Commodore closed in 1996, but after $3.5 million in renovations (including a new hardwood dance floor) it reopened under the House of Blues banner on November 12, 1999. House of Blues hosted a 75th Anniversary celebration season from December 2003, 2004 to December 4, 2005, though began celebrations early on October 16, 2004 with a performance by Tom Waits.[7]

Over the years the venue has hosted notable Grammy Award or Juno Award winning performers such as The Tragically Hip, James Brown, U2, Coldplay, Radiohead,[9] Sting, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Weezer, The Police, Pearl Jam, KISS, Tina Turner, The Beastie Boys, Nirvana, Kid Rock, Hedley, Oasis, Dr. Dre, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Metric.[1][10][11]

For many years, the venue was also noted for an annual St. Patrick's Day concert by the influential local Celtic rock band Spirit of the West.[12] When the band announced its retirement due to lead singer John Mann's declining health, the venue also hosted the band's final concerts in April 2016.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d "Listing:Commodore Ballroom". The Greater Vancouver Visitors and Convention Bureau. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved March 2, 2008.
  2. ^ a b "Commodore Ballroom". Yellow Pages Group Co. Archived from the original on January 30, 2004. Retrieved March 2, 2008.
  3. ^ Commodore Ballroom Celebrates 75 Years
  4. ^ Georgia Straight: Know your history – Commodore Ballroom
  5. ^ History of Metropolitan Vancouver website, 1981 Chronology page
  6. ^ History of Metropolitan Vancouver website, 1948 Chronology
  7. ^ a b Commodore Ballroom Celebrates 75 Years, The Georgia Straight, September 30, 2004
  8. ^ History of Metropolitan Vancouver website, 1969 Chronology
  9. ^ radiohead "fake plastic trees" 1995 vancouver, retrieved October 9, 2019
  10. ^ Usinger, Mike (September 29, 2005). "Know your history – Commodore Ballroom". Vancouver Free Press. Retrieved March 2, 2008.
  11. ^ "Past Events 2007". Ltd. Retrieved April 28, 2008.[dead link]
  12. ^ "Spirit of the West plays St. Patrick’s Day Show". The Province, March 12, 2014.
  13. ^ "Beloved Vancouver group Spirit of the West announces final shows". CBC Music, December 1, 2015.