The Marquee was always a little bit out of the way, it didn’t lie in the heart of the club/party scene in Halifax and its neighbourhood in the early days wasn’t the most desirable place you would want to find yourself at 2-3 in the morning. It was a place you made a contentious effort to go to, which is part of the reason that it’s not had the best track record in terms of remaining open (the most recent run [prior to this evening’s grand re-opening of The Marquee Ballroom]saw The Marquee Club evolve into The Paragon). It was always bittersweet to its doors close, but equally joyful when those doors would re-open and welcome you back in for a concert or two. This weekend sees Wintersleep take the stage on Friday Evening (Apr. 26th) and the Trews on Saturday (the 27th).
For me, this was a place you wanted to go and just hang out at, it wasn’t as glossy or as polished as other establishments around town (The Palace, The Liquor Dome) it was a little rough around the edges and that is what set it apart from the crowd. You would walk in and see Mannequin Legs, or Bicycles dangling from the ceiling, but you could clearly see that this room was designed to house live music, the stage setup, the long corridor that stretched to the back wall, it is/was a great place to see a show. I saw acts such as Danko Jones (only paid $8.00 the first time I saw him), Gord Downie, Sam Roberts, Big Sugar, Trouser/The Trews, Ambition, Quake, Buck 65, Sum 41, Matt Mays & El Torpedo, The Watchmen, 5440 all grace that stage and all of whom etched indelible memories on my being. The stage and sound are top notch, the Bar is easily accessible (you may have to wade though a mass of humanity depending on who is playing) but it’s not a long haul to get a brew. The Bathroom is a bit of a hike down into Hell’s Kitchen, but that’s the only gripe that I have about the place.
While I have had countless concert memories formed at the Marquee, I think my favorite story has to do with a buddy of mine. We were all out that evening after a long week at work, we had closed down Peddlers and decided to move up to the Marquee to finish the night off. Slowly the night began to take its toll on poor Ruffles, another fella we worked with offered to call him a cab, but Ruffles said he lived close by so he’d just walk home. I headed home not long afterwards and when I touch base with Ruffles the next morning he explains that he was lost in the north end for roughly an hour until he finally realized he was a block from his apartment.
This is not a venue that is easily forgotten, and I’m extremely excited to see that Hayden Dresser will be stopping by The Marquee Ballroom on June 1st to regale the crowd with his brand of folk-rock. While the marquee i’s a place where I’ve gone to see some great shows and have some great times with friends, there is one other piece of the puzzle that I’d be remiss for not mentioning. It’s easy to partner with a local pizza shop to import slices for the closing hours, it’s absolutely another when the fantastic music venue also makes the best slice of pizza in the city. The slice you can get in Hell’s Kitchen is unequivocal-ably the best pizza slice in the entire city, so much so that I still dream of that pizza! (it was THAT good).
We’re excited to see The Marquee Ballroom rise from the ashes of the Paragon and start bringing in live music to Gottigen again. All the best on your grand re-opening, and I can’t wait to get in and see the space.