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Vancouver gay bar the Odyssey is closing

LGBT nightclub ends three-year run on Hastings Street

The Odyssey’s new location on Hastings Street opened in July 2015. Credit: Niko Bell/Xtra

Historic gay bar and nightclub the Odyssey will close the doors of its new Hastings Street location for good on June 30, the bar has announced on social media. The bar thanked its fans, and saluted nearly 30 years of operation in Vancouver.

Credit: The Odyssey Bar & Nightclub/Facebook

The Odyssey was known for its steamy showers and male strippers, as well as a tumultuous history.

In September 2017, the bar shut down normal operations citing unexplained problems finding insurance coverage. Since then, the Odyssey has been open sporadically for weekend events, while manager Brandon Folkes has remained tight lipped about the bar’s status. Since September, neither Folkes nor the bar’s bankroller, philanthropist Peter Allard (who also gave his name to UBC’s law school) has responded to repeated calls and emails from Xtra.

The Odyssey’s troubles began in 2009, when the city evicted the decades old nightclub on Howe Street to make way for a twelve-story building complex. The Odyssey settled on the site of the old Starlight Theatre at 911 Denman St, but the move was blocked by neighbours who complained to the city about potential noise pollution. With no new location, the bar held its last party in September 2010, and then went silent.

In 2015, the Odyssey reappeared with lawyer Bijan Ahmadian at the helm, a new location on Hastings Street in what used to be the Pop Opera nightclub, and cash from philanthropist Allard. Ahmadian’s tenure was short lived, however, after only months later he sent private investigators into a rival gay party run by Vancouver Art and Leisure Society to uncover alleged liquor and public sex violations. Ahmadian handed over his report, including hidden camera footage of public sex, to The Province, which ran a dramatic two page story about the party. Ahmadian faced sharp criticism from the gay community, and stepped down from the Odyssey in February 2016. He was replaced by Folkes and another manager Sebastian Ankiel.