Dan Hare and his March Hare show band performing at Elements Casino’s 300-seat lounge last January. (Photo courtesy George Bencze/Facebook.com)

Theatre closure in Langley has Cloverdale casino considering more live entertainment

Elements started out with live bands two years ago, but that changed in recent months

SURREY — With the closure of the Summit Theatre at Langley’s Cascades Casino, operators of Elements Casino in Cloverdale are looking to pick up the live-entertainment ball, so to speak.

Michael Worth, who is just two months into his role of GM at Elements, said the casino’s 300-seat Dragon Lounge could become busier in the coming months.

“Doing more live music here is something we’re definitely looking into doing, and I’ve got our marketing team on that,” Worth told the Now-Leader.

“It’s something I’ve been talking with our team about, because I think that will have a big impact for (Cascades), with their theatre closing and going with bingo,” he added. “It’s probably going to hurt them a bit, and there’s not many venues around where people can go for that type of entertainment – full-service, anyways.”

Operators of Cascades Casino have closed the 420-seat Summit Theatre to make way for a new bingo hall opening in February. The changes are part of the casino’s 23,000-square-foot expansion.

• READ MORE: Casino closing one of Langley’s largest live music venues, from Dec. 28.

The Langley property is operated by Gateway Casinos & Entertainment, while Cloverdale’s Elements is owned by rival Great Canadian Gaming Corporation.

At Elements, live entertainment was to be a major focus of the casino when the renovated and rebranded facility was opened in December of 2015. Great Canadian spent close to $11 million to refurbish the 56,000-square-foot property, formerly known as Fraser Downs Racetrack Casino and first opened 40 years ago.

• READ MORE: $11-million facelift for Surrey’s only casino, from December 2015.

The venue’s live-entertainment venue, originally called Escape and since renamed Dragon Lounge, was created in what was a multi-tiered clubhouse area where patrons watched harness racing. To start, the Escape stage featured dance bands and other performers two or three nights a week, but that schedule has not been followed at Dragon Lounge in recent months.

“We started scaling back (live entertainment) six or seven months ago, and we really haven’t done much in there,” Worth explained.

“It’s a good size, and it’s also gone through some physical changes,” he added. “The stage has been moved from the front entrance area, to the left of the door, to the back, by the bar, so the music is playing people as they walk in, it’s hitting you, instead of having to go into the room.”

• READ MORE: Surrey’s Flamingo rocks again, first in renovated/repurposed strip club, from Jan. 3.

Currently, the most popular event at Dragon Lounge are the Desi Nights – billed as “Surrey’s only monthly South Asian event” – held there on the last Friday of every month, in partnership with Decibel Entertainment and A-Town Presents.

“For that, we get a packed house, and it’s been growing over the past six months,” said Amar Sohal, Great Canadian’s regional marketing co-ordinator.

“For our Desi Nights, it’s a lot more of a lounge/club feel in here,” Sohal added. “The response to that event, people like the safe environment and they don’t want to drive to Vancouver all the time, and this is on that level, with the top-quality DJs, everything.”

The next Desi Nights event is set for Jan. 26, featuring no cover charge.

Other than that, the only other public event on the Dragon Lounge calendar at the moment is an “Afternoon Delight” concert on Jan. 29 featuring a Michael Bublé tribute singer. The $20 ticket includes a pasta lunch buffet and performance starting at noon.

“We’re still tweaking what we have in here,” Sohal explained, “and we’ve tried some different things – Vietnamese nights, Chinese nights. So adding things like Desi and Bollywood nights, that’s part of the experimentation here, and we are looking into offering more weekly events, but that’s still in the works right now.”

The Dragon Lounge is also rented out for private banquets, staff parties and other events, Worth noted.

“We’re still looking at different options (for the lounge space), what’s going to move the needle for people,” he added.

(STORY CONTINUES BELOW VIDEO)

On Dec. 31, the venue’s New Year’s Eve party was played by popular show band March Hare.

“We rang in the New Year in style at the Elements Casino!” the band posted on its Facebook page. “Great food, music and friends. The energy in the air was infectious!”

Reached on Monday (Jan. 8), bandleader Dan Hare said the local casinos have been good for bands, including his own, and that he hopes operators of Elements do decide to host more live entertainment at Dragon Lounge, moving forward.

“Two years ago, when they renovated, they had big plans for the room, in a nightclub setting and they could do sort of corporate events in there,” Hare said. “But I don’t think the energy was there, and the budget was dropped and it all ran out of steam.

“To bring it back,” Hare continued, “they would have to have sort of a mindset reset and just say OK, we’re going to put some energy into this, hire somebody or have somebody to make sure it flies, put more budget into the bands and get bands that actually draw people, and stage events rather than just hiring bands. They have to have a different mentality, because you have to stage an event and create a hype around that, rather than just hiring bands and just expecting people to wander in.”

As for the Summit Theatre closure in Langley, Hare said he was a bit surprised to see that happen.

“I thought they could have made it dual-purpose, instead of completely repurposing it as only a bingo hall, exclusively, maybe it could have been repurposed as duel-purpose, to find a way to make revenue during the daytime and then keep the bands there on the weekends, but apparently that wasn’t in the cards and they’re going to make it exclusively a bingo hall.

“It’s too bad,” Hare added, “but I’m thankful for still being able to do this for a living. Things are a little tighter but I’m able to weather that, and the band is doing as well as ever, as far as that goes. It’s a little more challenging and we have to come up with different shows and maybe travel a bit more, whatever, to continue making a living at this. I’m happy, it’s good.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Tom on Twitter

Just Posted

Langley chamber joins call to kill ‘no pipeline ever’ law

Bill C-69 will hurt the local Langley economy, Chamber warns

World Day of Prayer returns to Langley

St. Joseph’s Catholic Church is hosting the annual day on March 1.

Young Langley family plagued by angry cab customers

A couple rents a house formerly used by a cab firm, and unwelcome visitors knocking.

Woman groped on Langley’s 208th Street

Police are asking for tips to identify the man responsible.

PHOTOS: Family Day a success at Aldergrove Telephone Museum

A record number of people visited the Telephone Museum on Monday to tour the historic exhibits.

VIDEO: Nail-biter game against Germany tonight earns Langley’s Team Canada a win

Langley’s Team Tardi is 5-2 at the junior curling worlds in Nova Scotia, hoping to defend their title

Ontario man accused of killing 11-year-old daughter dies in hospital, police say

Roopesh Rajkumar had been hospitalized with what police described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound

Manitoba ‘pauses’ link with ex-B.C. premier Gordon Campbell after allegations

Campbell had been hired to review two major hydro projects

Heritage minute features Japanese-Canadian baseball team, internment

The Vancouver Asahi baseball team won various championships across the Pacific Northwest

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

$10-a-day child care not in 2019 budget, but advocate not irked

Sharon Gregson with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. says NDP on track to deliver promise

B.C. Seniors Advocate questions labour shortage in care homes

Are there really no workers, or are care aide wages too low?

B.C. business groups worry about looming economic decline in wake of NDP budget

The party’s second government budget focused on plenty of spending, business advocates say

Missing Surrey snowshoer caught in avalanche found dead on Vancouver mountain

North Shore Rescue resumed its search today after efforts were temporarily halted Tuesday due to snowstorm

Most Read