Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Palomino Club - 25 Years

Palomino's Club - 1988 to 2013
In 1988, the Palomino Club was established by owner Cary Paul and has continued for 25 years at 1133 Portage Avenue. Prior to the country bar, the club has been run by the same owner as Blue Jean's, a standard niteclub.

There had been an earlier but brief country burst in the 1980s with the Urban Cowboy crowd but the new wave, second British wave mixed with music videos pretty much stomped country save for those with cross over appeal like Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. It didn't help that country music marketed itself with the likes of The Nashville Network and line and square dancing. It just seemed a tad uncool.

Little did we know that country would reinvent itself and through the 1990s Shania Twain and others would show the genre wasn't dead.

The Palomino Club was well positioned to take advantage the new rise in country.

So what kept the Palomino going strong all these years? In short, it has been their ability to attract women. And while there was dancing at Strawberries, Waterfront Network, Rorie Street Marble Club, Mustang Sallys, Scandals and other places connected to hotels or stand alone niteclubs, it was hit and miss with live music and DJs.

Women wanted to dance and have fun and at the end of the 1980s, rap and hip hop were starting to make inroads in North America and that type of dancing and music was a bridge too far for many people. In truth, the music industry which was swept up in the MTV and MuchMusic craze was fracturing into boy bands, more solo artist or singer/songwriters, female artists, metal, hip hop/rap/reggae/ska and whole lot of other subsets.

The one genre that offered solid opportunity for dancing and was female friendly was country. And with a newer and glossier pop country twang, the Palomino Club struck gold. The list of country stars who performed at one of Canada's oldest country cabarets is very long.

A club like the Palomino doesn't say at the top of their game without adapting. Today only around 15% of what is played is country. The success now comes from a good staff and good atmosphere. It also has a bit of an older crowd that some of the hotel bars and a reputation for cougars, older women on the prowl for younger men.

The site of the Palomino has had other clubs over the many years. Blue Jean's was there from around 1986 to 1988. A country bar there before that. My recollection was that it was Gabby's but I could be wrong. And before even when I can recall, it was Pierre's.

 At some point you become an institution and while owner/operators sometimes close down the doors, it is hard to see the Palomino being one of those places.

Here's to 25 more years.


Joe the Lion said...

I remember that this place was a restaurant in the early 1960s. Do you know what the name of it was by any chance?

Joe the Lion said...

I remember this place was a restaurant in the early 1960s. Do you know what the name of it was by any chance?