Is Vancouver’s Coolest Nightlife Venue in… Kitsilano?

The revamped Hollywood Theatre offers an eclectic mix of music, comedy and drag that’s a world away from the Granville Strip.

Yes, the Hollywood Theatre is an events venue. But it’s also a (beautiful) retort to anyone who’s ever dared to call this city a bore. On any given night of the week, you’ll find fans lined up down the block to see their favourite artist coming through town, or stepping through the art deco entryway to make new friends on the dance floor. Despite its glamorous historic facade and humble neighbours (a veggie stand and an ice cream parlour among them), it’s a space that delivers an authentic, decidedly punk-rock vibe. No matter what’s on the agenda, the Hollywood is committed to smashing Vancouver’s “no fun city” rep night after night after night.

“Every hipster in every city is jaded,” says Hollywood marketing director Jason Sulyma. “But there’s always lots to do. You’ve just gotta look around. I will personally go out of the way to pick you up and drop you off and give you drink tickets.”

The Hollywood could be the only club in Vancouver that doesn’t focus on continuous Top 40 programming—and may well have the most diverse portfolio in B.C.—thanks to a rotating cast of local promoters who take the reins. “It’s interesting to see all these different communities take the space and run with it,” says Sulyma. The Hollywood’s programming mix places Bollywood dance parties and Afrobeat artist sets alongside fetish nights, comedy shows and drag performances. The marquee recently advertised a Taylor Swift drag party, an AC/DC tribute band called BC/DC, an ’80s theme night and something called “The Emo Nightmare Before Christmas.” It’s a grab bag—one that’s always full of fun.

A restoration of West Broadway’s historic 1935 art deco cinema, the theatre opened in the thick of COVID. Not a great time to be in the events business, but the industrious team slogged through, and today they regularly pack the room with Vancouver’s party people.

The Hollywood’s mandate for booking reflects a focus on being a good neighbour. Now, the club routinely teams up with Nuba restaurant across the street to offer dinner-and-a-movie packages, playing romantic classics (think: When Harry Met Sally) on the big screen. During Greek Days, the team flings open the doors and invites people into a curated pop-up food hall.

The booking team is also committed to giving the best dates and times to local talent. “The most exciting thing is taking a chance on someone,” says Sulyma. “We just know good people bring good people.” Rookie producers have a chance to experiment here in a way they might not at a Live Nation- dominated venue downtown. An example close to home: one of the Hollywood’s bussers, Seb, makes his own music, so Sulyma invited him to start his own night. A pajama party called House on the Hill was born, a playful Saturday event (you can guess the dress code) that fills the room with new pop house music and a fun-loving crowd of revellers.

The goal is to foster an open-door vibe—no gatekeeping allowed. “There are these stereotypes of the grumpy promoter who hates the kids coming up, but I know this next generation wants to contribute. They’re doers,” Sulyma says.

His list of go-to promoters today includes kids who used to sneak onto his underground party guest lists—club kids, drag queens, alt friends, all grown up and ready to create their own scenes.

Sulyma is a seasoned promoter himself. He grew up throwing parties and doing shows at East Van warehouses and dive bars (“I’ll go to jail if I tell you about those parties,” he laughs) and then built a career as a booker for the big cats across town. “I spent 20 years doing shows in the wilderness of East Van,” he says. “Here, we keep all the wild inside our four walls.”

After all these decades, Sulyma remains a fan of the city’s creative community. “I can’t even afford all the taxis I take to come down after hours because we have so much going on, but I love seeing what’s going on at the Hollywood,” Sulyma admits. “We’ll have Sin City, and then the next day a UBC frat party, and then this Daptone soul act Jalen Ngonda from the U.K., and then Fateh, a South Asian artist from Toronto. I love the mashup of it all.”

A full house for Emo Night
A full house for Emo Night. Photo courtesy of Timothy Nguyen


An archival photo of the Hollywood in its cinema days.
An archival photo of the Hollywood in its cinema days. Courtesy of HOLLYWOOD THEATRE


Upcoming Shows at the Hollywood

Dorian Electra, February 22 Come for the experimental pop, stay for the avant-garde fashion.

Dorian  Electra

Real Estate, March 1 The indie band has been kicking since 2008; their cheekily named Infinite Jangle tour hits the Hollywood this spring.

Real Estate

Sofiane Pamart, March 24 The Parisian pianist is classically trained but brings a hip-hop finesse to his performances.

Sofiane Pamart