By Jordie Yow

Though it’s been a year in the making, the new venue in the old A&B Sound location on Seymour (a.k.a. the new Richard’s) is shaping up in time for an exciting opening in January.

Discorder was granted a tour of the unfinished new venue, which will contain a basement bathroom party room, two lounges and three art galleries in addition to the main floor which will have a good-sized stage, dance floor and bar. It will have a capacity of 500 and the building’s design will allow a multitude of event types to happen there, possibly simultaneously.

Two of the galleries, accessible by elevator or stairs on the second floor, will be used solely for exhibitions and will give UBC’s Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery and North Vancouver’s Presentation House Gallery a downtown presentation space.

“I know they have trouble getting people out to UBC and North Van,” said Vince Alvaro, who owns the space. Alvaro is offering them the space for displays free of charge.

Blanket Gallery will also be selling art from their space on the third floor of the building.

The current plan is to name the place A&B which pays homage to old A&B Sound store that used to occupy the space, but also stands for Art & Booze. Alvaro plans to use the space to host big events that will use the entire building. He intends the space to be used by all types of artists, not just musicians.

“It’s going to be like [the Vancouver Art Gallery’s] Fuse … but every night,” he said.

The main floor will have a lounge open during the day also displaying art and functioning as a lounge with a small kitchen. It will be attached to the main performance room, as will a special VIP lounge that will look down on the stage through glass walls.

Though the building will have an industrial aesthetic with cement floors and brick walls, there is plenty of glass between many of the rooms allowing people to voyeuristically keep an eye on what’s going on elsewhere. The basement party room will have three large square glass windows in the ceiling looking up at the dance floor of the main room. You may want to avoid wearing a skirt when hanging out here, unless that’s your thing. The basement’s ceilings are not the most unusual part of its design, though, as the room will also double as a large unisex bathroom lounge, which will have artistically coloured stalls installed in the middle of the room across from the bar. At this point in time it is hard to pass judgment on this concept, but it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out.

The plans for A&B have been in the works for a long time. “We bought Richard’s [four] years ago to do this,” said Alvaro. “It took us two-and-a-half years to find a location.”

Due to permit and licensing delays from city hall the building’s opening has been delayed until January, at which point Alvaro plans a soft opening in order to work out the kinks during a number of Olympic-related events in February, followed by a grand opening in early March.