“It is difficult for nightclubs in Vancouver to stay relevant for five years, let alone one hundred, and although this building has evolved over the years, it has always upheld a reputation as a sought after destination for music or dance events. There’s just something extraordinary about the space that’s carried throughout the years,” - Alvaro Prol, co-owner of Celebrities Nightclub.

“Celebrities has always funnily enough been on the cutting edge of whatever was trending in club entertainment in this town. It was never the straid place to go - it was the place to be seen and to socialize with the most progressive clubbers." - Ron Dutton, archivist and founder of the BC Gay & Lesbian Archives.


Architect Thomas Hooper designed the Lester Dancing Academy in 1911. By the 1940s it had become the Embassy Ballroom, one of a number of genteel dancing clubs in the city. A sign of the times, in the 1960s it became a rock club called Dante’s Inferno, then the Retinal Circus, hosting psychedelic bands from all over the West Coast. It has continued its reputation for contemporary entertainment since 1982, when the Kerasiotis family renamed it Celebrities Nightclub and welcomed a diverse clientele from the gay, lesbian, transgender and straight community.

The plaque is sponsored by John Kerasiotis.


Early Years
The Celebrities venue at 1022 Davie Street has been an entertainment mainstay in Vancouver for over a century. It was home to one of the city’s first dancing halls – the Lester Dancing Academy (originally called Lester Court), which was run by husband and wife dance-teaching duo Frederick and Maud Lester.

A building permit was issued July 14, 1911 for a “Dancing academy & apartment house” for the sum of $125,000. Designed by Thomas Hooper – one of B.C.’s most important early architects – Lester Court was intended to be “one of the most palatial and modern buildings on the continent”. After years of delays and a change in ownership, construction was completed by 1914 and was first available for “Balls, Receptions, etc.” starting September 1, 1914. In 1914, the new owner, A. G. Ferrera – Italian Consul and owner of 502 E Hastings The Ferrera Block – was filed suit against for $5000 damages due to the delay in completion from “dancing masters and promoters of dancing entertainments” S.J. Bedworth and Frederic Christiansen of Seattle, whom had leased the building in September 1913.

In the 1940s, it became the Embassy Ballroom – a “genteel dancing club.”

Correction: The Construction date was originally attributed as 1908. However, it is believed this was actually referring to the Lester’s first dance hall building: Lester Hall at 1205 Granville Street.

Rock and Psychedelic Hippie Hotspot
In the 1960s, the venue morphed into the rock club Dante’s Inferno, and then the Retinal Circus, a hippie venue famous for its psychedelic concerts and groovy lightshows. In the club’s basement, Tommy Chong ran an after-hours club called the Elegant Parlour. During this decade, the club played host to music legends like Led Zepplin, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, the Velvet Underground and The Doors.

After a brief stint as a strip club in the 1970s, the venue was purchased by the Kerasiotis brothers who turned it into its current incarnation – Celebrities – where it became an entertainment hub for the Davie Street Village’s burgeoning gay community. The Kerasiotis brothers are second-generation Greek immigrants whose family opened Olympia Pizza in Kitsilano before moving into the nightclub business. Their first club – Luvafair – was one of the city’s first gay bars before it became an alternative music venue.

Celebrities continues to attract a diverse group of people, with famous DJs and performers from around the world introducing Vancouverites to cutting-edge music and entertainment.



Media & Photos


1022 Davie St.
West End


49.279417, -123.129937

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