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Sonar Nightclub

As soon as you hear the name, you know it's a trance club! Sonar is away in Gastown and not part of Vancouver's gay district, but like Canada, it's pretty liberal. When I found out that dancefloor legend Seb Fontaine was doing a one-night stand there I had to go.

Haloween at Sonar
And people have the cheek to think it's bunch of freaks at trannie clubs?! This was Haloween at Sonar - Edward Scissor Hands won the fancy dress competition

Sonar is a small club by world standards with a top capacity being around 500. It's not bright and showy like Celebrities and has better lights than Odyssey but a night out costs more. So what do you get for your money?

Well aside from the standard long bar and cloakroom facilities, Sonar does have a main room split into levels. The crowd do vary according to the night so be warned! On a club night, such as when Seb was playing, it's mainly young clubbers getting down on disco burgers. Not that I know anything at all about such activity, being completely innocent as I am, but it would appear that quality pills are a much sought after thing in Canada and that the pills kicking around Europe are much better. Certainly, people seem hyper but more with the adrenaline of amphetamine rather than the heart opening loved-up scenario any UK clubber will know all too well.

Canada also has a drug called Meth-amphetamine kicking around which really is a dirty, disgusting thing brewed up using delightful health supporting ingredients like battery acid. As anyone who reads my website can tell, I like a good night out more than your average fruit bat, however I did do a lot of work while I was in Canada for a non-profit organisation helping get people off crystal meth. It's not a party drug, it's a slippery slope and those few individuals sad enough to think that they can give up working out at the gym and counting calories by substituting a weekly mash up on that stuff are doing the equivalent of trying to kill a mosquito with a Surface to Air missile. It's complete overkill and I wholeheartedly encourage you to admit Sado-masochistic tendancies rather than get involved with this type of self-hate. There were a few people at Sonar who did seem seriously spannered out, but there would be less of them than the number of drinks an average person could down in a night and they were just in their own world - I don't think there was anything that serious going round this club. If you want to see crystal meth in action, you would be better off going to Surrey than Sonar, much to the relief of all who just want a great night out dancing.

Sonar has a second room too, upstairs and a lot smaller. Sometimes they play R&B, other times they have some serious deep psychadelic trance going down... or circling around in a rollercoaster of etheral lights streaming out to infinity, depending on what kind of a night you're on!

Canadians don't think of clubbing the same way as Europeans. When I left for Canada my friends joked to me about clubbing in Canada, telling me to make sure that if I went out clubbing there, I brought them back a Mink Fur Scarf! It's crass I know, and many of the Canadians I met were very eco-friendly and opposed to culling but still remains true that only a minority of Canadians understand clubbing in the sense that Europeans do and many that I spoke to told me tales of visiting small clubs in the UK and being amazed at how big they were! Sonar is the underground club in Vancouver.

This was something that was in evidence when legedary mixer Seb Fontaine stepped up to the spinning platform for the night. In the UK, you can typically expect to jump up and down on the spot when Seb plays because it's that packed. But at Sonar there was ample room to move and dance! There were a few people serious giving it some welly, but the West Coast vibe is so laid back it's almost asleep. Still, someone on the floor gave me a CD of DJ Soma's new album, Basslions, a very progressive sound for Vancouver. After Seb had finished playing his set, I walked up, shook his hand and chatted - he's a really nice guy! And he signed the CD for me!

Seb Fontaine's signature on my DJ Soma CD
Canadians might not understand what this means, as in the UK coming within 5 foot of the DJ booth means some muscle bound ape is about to hurl you out the fire exit using your head as a sledgehammer to open it, but at Sonar you could just walk up and chat...

I got on well with the crowd at Sonar, but I have to say if you aren't confident with how passable you look, don't go. The crowd is much more straight than at the Davie Street clubs and there are lots of Hell's Angel types on the non-dance nights, so unless it is Halloween, expect hassle. Go as a an effiminate man if you really want to hear the performance, because this is not the place for high heels, short skirts and fishnets and the security is very visible. Sonar has some great artists on it's line up but it does suffer from a shortage of character as a club and it takes more effort to become part of the party than other clubs.

Sonar Nightclub Review:

  • Type: Dance Nightclub
  • Location: Gastown, Vancouver, Canada
  • Entry: Cover charge varies according to the act playing - I paid $25 to see Seb Fontaine which if you're Canadian is a lot but if you're not is an absolute steal
  • Facilities: Two dance floors, three bars and tiny smoking area
  • Plus Points: Top acts from around the world, decent lights
  • Minus Points: Lacks atmosphere, quite expensive, not ideal for a TGirls night out due to plenty of rough sorts
  • Overall Rating: 6 out of 10

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