Cobalt BluesMonday, March 28, 2016
|The Notes & Cinch at the Cobalt Hotel|
The Cobalt Hotel in the late 70s and 80s was a dive that featured usually (but not always) Grade B exotic dancers. The front of the hotel on Main Street had an unusual entrance for cars. There was a narrow passage and you would drive through and park in the back.
In the summer it was hot inside the Cobalt. So they kept a door to the parlour open. I watched with glee as young boys in bikes would cycle back and forth for a glimpse of what then was a prohibited nudity not to be found anywhere unless you purloined your dad’s Playboy or Penthouse.
Inside it was really a dive. One of the best dancers that ever danced there, Damion told me that she could see rats scurry past the door of the dancers’dressing room.
One year Les Wiseman and I traveled to Nanaimo to watch a prize fight sponsored by the owners of the Drake Hotel. The Round Girls were all of the best exotics from Vancouver. The young white man (from Port Alberni as Wiseman was) that was supposed to win did not. He lost to Trevor Berbick, a black man. We traveled back (Wiseman knowing that the un-Hollywood ending meant he would not write about it for Vancouver Magazine) in the chartered bus glum and depressed. There was some excess alcohol in our blood so Wiseman suggested we stop at a Chinatown noodle place and have some wonton soup (not quite Wiseman’s hair of the dog but efficient enough).
|Gordon Racette, left, Trevor Berbeck, right|
After our sobering soup Wiseman further suggested we mosey down to the Cobalt to see some scrugs. This was a term that Wiseman coined for lower grade dancers.
We sat down not too far from what was then called gynaecology row. Close enough we were but not too obvious. There was a wonderful black woman dancing. It was then that we noticed what certainly was not nor has ever been a singularity. Black people have very white back of the hands. I need not continue where else.
Suddenly a hole appeared in the ceiling and water gushed down over the head of a patron. The man behind the bar quickly brought a bucket. The thoroughly drenched man moved to another table.
Wiseman and I wondered where that water came from. After all there were rooms with bathrooms upstairs.
Perhaps some 5 or 6 years ago I was dispatched by the Georgia Straight to photograph two bands, The Notes and Cinch at the Cobalt. I had a very good memory of what the men’s bathroom looked like so I chose that as our location. The bands were ecstatic at the suggestion and contributed with lots of fresh graffiti. My contribution was the bottle (empty) of Extra Old Stock. In our days (Wiseman and I) we called it High Test as it was supposed to have more alcohol.
Two days ago my Rosemary asked our older (18) granddaughter where she was going that evening. Her answer was,”The Cobalt.”
Rosemary asked me, “What and where is the Cobalt?” I didn't tell her that the Cobalt Hotel is the premier Vancouver venue for cutting edge alternative bands. The dancers are gone but I am sure that the rodents are still there.