CALGARY – After 15 years of operation, the HiFi club – one of Calgary’s longest running establishments for dancing, partying, and all-round good times – has closed.
An announcement posted on social media said the closure was due to the closure since March due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and has been unable to renegotiate rental terms with the building’s owner.
“I’m not trying to denigrate you because you are in a difficult position too. You have been pretty accommodating for a while,” said Pete Emes, one of the club’s founders and co-owners.
“But the thing is, the business model here is pretty simple. If we can’t have people through the club who gather without distancing … we’re a small club so the margins are as thin as they are. Neither of us We wanted to retire here and if you cut a thin margin you can go from making money to losing money pretty quickly and there was just no way for us to operate and not lose money.
“Spending doesn’t stop when the business closes.”
The HiFi Club was founded in 2005 in a small space in the Beltline on 10th Avenue SW by Emes and Mike Grimes, who form smalltown DJs, together with their friend and DJ colleague Graham Furse.
“(Graham) ran one of the bars at (University of Calgary) … Mike and I were (DJing) the night gallery and things were starting to go a little downhill there, so we said, ‘Gosh, we have to either moving our night to a new place or opening our own place, ‘”said Emes.
“We made the right choice, it was immediately busy.”
Emes and Grimes also own Home and Away and Commonwealth.
One of the main reasons HiFi is so successful, Emes says, is that the club was founded and run by DJs, for DJs. They basically run shows and events that they want to go to.
“People have been telling us this for years, especially the artists who come through. They realize it’s run by artists and DJs and we value those elements of the club. We celebrate music, that’s our number a priority, and you don’t usually find that, “said Emes.
“It’s about the fact that we love this music and we love to present it the right way, with the right sound, the right graphics, the right art installations and a whole mood. We have learned over the years by visiting different places where it was done right and we somehow applied that. “
HiFi has booked a few big name artists over the years, some before they became well known.
“Things like playing Black Francis of the Pixies and doing Kid Cudi’s first show in Canada,” Emes said.
“We did Calvin Harris’ first show on his first international DJ tour … there are just so many memories. Routinely, shows we would do here would continue to play the Palace or Mac Hall or even Arena shows .
“There are also memories like, Charles Barkley came here and stayed a whole night, he bought people drinks. Coldplay came after their Saddledome show and was on the dance floor all night and was super cool. George Wendt from Cheers came over for a rock show and was posted at the bar to buy drinks. There are so many stories flooding back. “
News of the closure sparked a lot of support on social media. Hundreds of people commented on how sad they were and shared their own stories.
“It’s amazing and that’s why we did it. We put on shows that we knew wouldn’t break even. It was a love job,” said Emes.
And a reopening of HiFi at a later date is out of the question.
“I’m not going to say no,” said Emes. “At the moment there is no timeframe for what we are doing. We just feel that the question marks are too big right now to open up and work regularly. We definitely think something will be possible, but we do it is. ” also eternal optimists.
“This is what we do and we have always loved it. Something could come back.”
Top 10 shows in the HiFi Club, selected by Pete Emes:
The very best
A tribe called red
Diplo and CSS
Black Francis of the Pixies
Magnolia Electric Company
Skrillex with 12th Planet and Dillon Francis