Surrey’s Flamingo is turning into a rock ‘n’ roll hotel, in more ways than one.
Some of the 21 rooms at the King George Boulevard property are being converted into band rehearsal studios, while others will shelter touring musicians for a night or two.
“We have 18 rooms we’re converting, and that’s eight hostel-type rooms, another two for green rooms, for the bands playing here to get dressed before their show,” David Geertz, the Flamingo’s managing partner, said during a tour of the property.
“And then everything on the south side of the building, these will be the jam spaces,” he continued. “We have six bands already signed up, and we built these floating floors with the hockey pucks and rubber under the skids, to take the bass out of the floors, a little riser.”
The renovation of rooms at the Flamingo, which first opened in 1955, follows a move last winter to feature live music and other forms of entertainment in the three bars there.
The property, now known as The Flamingo Events Centre (theflamingo.ca), includes Blackbird Hall (formerly Panchos rock club), Blue Byrd Stage (once a strip club) and Redbird Room (a “vintage intimate dive bar”). Combined, the three venues are licensed to hold more than 600 people.
In April, a fire in one of the hotel rooms forced out 18 long-term tenants, about a month after residents were given eviction notices. Renovation work continues on the repurposed rooms, located on the second floor above a liquor store.
“It’s kind of a rock n’ roll hotel, and we’re looking to decorate the walls with our concert posters, that kind of thing, to make it cool,” Geertz said.
“Bands would stay here and play here, as well as bands in (Vancouver), so if they’re playing the Biltmore or the Rickshaw or some other place, and their next date is in Vernon or Calgary or somewhere east, maybe, after the show it’s hard for them to go into an Airbnb, if at all, because it’s two o’clock in the morning, and the cost of accommodations downtown is too high. They’d have burned through all of the money made at the show, so we’re saying to them, ‘Stay here, we’ll give you a fair rate,’ and it gets them on the other side of rush hour and on their way first thing in the morning. Whether they’re playing here or not, they’re welcome to stay here.”
Music fans are also welcome to stay at the Flamingo, he said.
“A lot of people have said they’d like to park their car here, come to a show and crash for the night,” Geertz explained. “We’d build that into a package with a ticket, right.”
The Flamingo’s band-rehearsal studios, meanwhile, are also coming together.
”They’re $300 per month per band, and there’s only two bands per room,” Geertz said. “They’re called lockouts, and they share the room. The first band that came in, we said to them it’s $600 a month and you can bring another band with you, so that way they go and find another band they want to share the space with, it’s their choice. Included in that, they get access to the downstairs, where they can use the Blue Byrd stage and work on their show, or the lounge, to use the P.A. and systems to do production work, at no extra cost. It’s all built in.”
This month, the Flamingo’s entertainment calendar includes sets by Petunia and the Vipers (Oct. 5), Maiden BC with Stereo Anthems and guests (Oct. 6), League Of Corruption with Utility Provider, Rune and The Twitch (Oct. 12) and a Gord Downie Celebration Jam (Oct. 17).
“One thing we’re super pumped about is, we’re working with the bingo ladies and they’re going to use the lounge Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” Geertz said. “It’s going to be called Flamingo Bingo – old-school dabbers, no computers, and the caller, just old-school style.”