There was a time when the building that now houses Tonic attracted a considerably less-desirable crowd. In the '70s Granville Street was famously in decline, its glory days as the city's entertainment mecca a rapidly fading memory. On the strip, theatres were being bulldozed for office towers, multiplexes, and shopping malls. Movies were still being shown at the Eve, however, albeit not the kind that you took a first date to.
Today, the building that once housed the theatre is occupied by Tonic, which recently celebrated its second anniversary. Back in the day, however, the Eve was easily the most notorious business in the city. The furor started in 1979 when the theatre announced that it was booking Bob Guccione's sex-and-sodomy epic Caligula. Before you could say moral majority, local religious crusaders were out in full force with pickets signs, leading off nightly newscasts and landing on the front pages of local newspapers. When their curbside vigil turned into an extended one, Caligula became a hit in Vancouver, playing for months and proving that there's no such thing as bad publicity.
As video began to wipe out the adult-theatre industry, the Eve became the Paradise, a second-run spot notable for such bills as Gandhi and The Terminator. By the time Tonic co-owner David Kershaw began looking at the property a few years ago, the projectors had been shut off and the building boarded up. Buying a liquor licence that once belonged to the infamous Pony's Cabaret in the Downtown Eastside, he and his partners transferred it to Granville and then began renovating the building.
"We had to take out the seating and level the floor and bring it up to code," Kershaw says. "We spent $1.6 million putting in the bar and the fun stuff you need for a club: a $100,000 sound system and a $50,000 light show."
Attracting a 20-ish crowd with a mix of Top 40, rock, and hip-hop, Tonic-in a throwback to the days when it was the Eve-is the kind of place where the clientele has been known to get all hot and bothered.