Delicious, deliberate, dark

By Peter Hemminger

The Night Gallery is the antithesis of the Cowboys/Coyotes approach, as far removed from those soulless meat markets as possible within the confines of “places to get drunk and dance.” It’s tiny, essentially a converted apartment block (though renovations are underway to add another floor). It’s dark enough that you can’t really see that stranger across the dance floor, which thankfully eliminates many of the “look how hot I am” types so prevalent at those other clubs. Best of all, the odds of running into a metaphorical cougar on the prowl are about the same as finding a literal one.

The drink selection isn’t anything worth bragging about, but there are enough to get the job done. Specials go a long way to making this more enjoyable. On Wednesdays, for example, are $2.50 doubles before 11 p.m., and they definitely don’t cheap out on the alcohol content. But alcohol, despite its obvious merits, isn’t the main attraction at the Gallery. This is a club that thrives on atmosphere, reputation, and history. And it’s these three strengths that ensure the Gallery has a solid crowd even without special events, and hits maximum occupancy on any better-than-average day.

Every day of the week features a different theme: Reggae on Mondays, DJ Djewel’s staggering collection of pure rock and roll on Tuesdays, and electronica, hip-hop, and funk throughout the rest of the week. Saturdays are the real key to the success of the Gallery, though. Every local band worth their salt, from current favorites like Hot Little Rocket and Falconhawk to the sorely missed Interstellar Rootcellar and Shecky Forme, has taken to the diminutive stage at some point. And if an independent act is starting to garner any acclaim, it’s a fairly safe bet they’ve stopped by the Gallery at some point in their career: the Unicorns, Jay Farrar, the Dears, Buck 65, and far too many more to mention have all made memorable appearances.

It’s not fancy, nor classy, and it’s definitely not the place to show off your latest club-wear. What it is, is a Calgary institution, and a right of passage for anyone with even a passing interest in local rock and roll. To say you’ve never been there is to open yourself to mockery and ridicule. Check out their website, find the night that fits your interest, and head on down.

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