A Disco Comes to Whistler

For decades, many of Whistler’s businesses, including late-night establishments, have been concentrated within the Village. The first nightclub (or, as it was called at the time, disco) to open in the Village was Club 10 forty years ago.

Club 10 opened beneath Stoney’s on Friday, March 6, 1981 in the space most recently occupied by Maxx Fish. The venture was a new one for the owners, Michel Segur and Jean-Jacques Aaron, both of whom operated restaurants in the Lower Mainland (Segur’s Chez Michel continues to operate in West Vancouver today). Club 10 offered music, dancing, some limited food such as cheese plates and quiches, and drinks in Whistler’s “normal, pricy range,” and, by all accounts, was an almost instant success.

The crowd gets out onto the dance floor at Club 10. Whistler Question Collection, 1981.

As Club 10 was described as Whistler’s first “real disco,” it’s no surprise that the owners invested in their sound equipment and design, though it appears their aim was not to deafen their patrons. Guy O’Hazza, who installed the club’s sound system, said that, “The sound was not made to be loud, it was made to be clean. It’s directed at the dance floor, so you can still sit at a table and talk.” The system was installed with the capacity to use turntables, but at the time of Club 10’s opening the music relied entirely on cassette tapes. The music itself was varied, ranging from New Wave to swing to country and more.

Mayor Pat Carleton (centre) congratulates Michel Segur (left) and Jean-Jacques Aaron on the opening of their new club. Whistler Question Collection, 1981.

The interior of Club 10 was designed by Gilbert Konqui, who had also designed Stoney’s and, later that year, would design the interior of The Longhorn. According to Konqui, the design was “ultra modern mixed with funk,” a combination of “funky, fun and relaxed.” From the ceiling hung a combination of art nouveau lights and disco balls, reflecting red and blue lights throughout the space. Decorations included two plaster angels, an eagle above the bar, a wall of books, and a large image of Humphrey Bogart.

The only part of Club 10’s opening that was not a success was the entrance, which was described by the Whistler Question as “a bit disconcerting” and reminiscent of a “somewhat sterile” entry to a warehouse. This problem was quickly solved by hiring Raymond Clements, and artist from Horseshoe Bay, to paint a mural in the stairwell. After three days, the plan walls were covered by mountains, chairlifts, ferries, and palm trees.

The walls of the entrance to Club 10, decorated by Ray Clements. Whistler Question Collection, 1981.

Through the 1980s, Club 10 hosted themed parties, fashion shows, and more before being sold, rebought, and then sold to Mitch Garfinkel in 1990. Garfinkel, an attorney from Florida, had plans to open similar bars in various ski resorts under the same name, Garfinkel’s Club 10’s space was redone, replacing painted walls with wood panelling, updating the sound system to play compact discs, and adding a large bar with a fish tank in the centre. In June 1990 Garfinkel’s was ready to open to the public, complete with its logo featuring a moose holding a draft beer.

Garfinkel’s operated for nine years before locating to its current location in 1999. Though the business occupying the space may have changed, its purpose has been the same since it first opened as Club 10 four decades ago.

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