The last song
The lights go out on T.O. music
By KIERAN GRANT -- Toronto Sun
TORONTO -- It was last call at 464 Spadina
Ave. early this morning as the address better
known as the El Mocambo hosted its final night
of rock'n' roll.
The landmark Toronto club officially shut down
in the small hours to make way for the
building's new owner, who plans on converting
it into a dance studio.
Some 300 people filed into the El Mo's upstairs
room, where veteran Canadian blues-rockers
Mainline held the honour of closing one of the
Canadian music institutions.
"Some heavy cats have played here," said Al
Haigh, 34, on his first -- and last -- visit to the
club. "At least I can say I've been here."
An additional 300 El Mo regulars joined in a
sort of Irish wake on the building's main floor,
where a hodgepodge of bands performed.
Despite plans to sell off El Mo memorabilia,
there wasn't much up for grabs other than
posters from recent gigs that went for $1.50 a
pop. At a show Saturday night, El Mo booking
agent Dan Burke sold $80 worth of posters. But
last night he was unconcerned with sales.
"I do rock 'n' roll shows," he said. "I had a show
last night. I've got shows tomorrow and the next
day at the Silver Dollar. I thought my job would
get easier if I did it well. I guess not."
Although its marquee once boasted the names
of The Rolling Stones, Elvis Costello, Stevie
Ray Vaughn, Lou Reed and U2, the El Mo in
recent years has mostly supported local and
international underground artists.
Burke, who led a campaign to keep the El Mo
alive after it was purchased by National Dance
Of Canada proprietor Abbas Jahangiri in
September, vows that the business will continue
at 549 College St. -- formerly the home of rival
club Ted's Wrecking Yard.
Jahangiri, for his part, claims that only the
upstairs at 464 Spadina will become a dance
studio, and that the downstairs will be
renovated and remain operational as the El Mo.
Both sides claim ownership of the club's name
There was commotion outside the club last
night when a group attempted to take down the
six-metre long marquee -- not to be confused
with the famous neon palm tree sign.
The marquee was accidentally dropped and
smashed. There were no injuries.