Vancouver Feature: Doors Open into an Exotic Cave | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Vancouver Feature: Doors Open into an Exotic Cave

The following article is a feature from our Vancouver Feature series. Past features are not updated.

To find sophisticated entertainment in old Vancouver you had to go underground, into a grotto where stalactites hung from the ceiling and pirate’s gold shimmered in darkly lit corners. The Cave Supper Club hosted the world’s most famous entertainers and beautiful showgirls for 44 years. It was the rare place in subdued Vancouver to go out on a weekend evening for some risqué entertainment and exotic drinks.

Although it opened in 1937, the Cave Supper Club was at its most successful during the postwar boom of the 1950s, when it became the first club in the city to have a liquor license. Out-of-town visitors staying at the nearby Hotel Vancouver or Georgia Hotel could treat themselves to top entertainers and a lavish stage show featuring scantily clad dancers in elaborate production numbers.

It is said that Las Vegas-bound acts liked to try their shows out at the Cave because the Vancouver audiences were notoriously hard to arouse. If they could get a reaction at the Cave, Vegas was a cinch. But what a Who’s Who of entertainment history the Cave hosted! From Louis Armstrong to The Police, Josephine Baker to Johnny Cash, the Cave’s line-up featured the best musical and comedy stars from the Big Band Era to 1981, when the Cave closed its doors.

Just a few of those who played the Cave: Bachman Turner Overdrive, Tony Bennett, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Bo Diddley, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Mitzi Gaynor, Robert Goulet, Lena Horne, Gypsy Rose Lee, The Ink Spots, Bette Midler, The Mills Brothers, Wayne Newton, Roy Orbison, The Righteous Brothers, Sonny & Cher, The Supremes, The Temptations, Sophie Tucker, Ike & Tina Turner.