In March, 2008, I went to Zaphod Beeblebrox for the first time. Tucked away in between a gentleman’s club and a punk rock dive bar, it hardly looked like a world-famous nightclub. But what did I know?
A few weeks ago, this article appeared in the Ottawa Business Journal, suggesting that the legendary club’s future was uncertain. It was followed by… well, a whole lot of nothing. As of the writing of this blog, no other news on the matter has surfaced.
But one ambiguous article seems to sparking a lot of worry. Questions like “Is Zaphod’s really closing?” and “What’s going to happen once it’s gone?” pop up in conversations I hear. We’re uncomfortable with having to acknowledge that the future is up in the air, as if the future of everything else is somehow, magically, concrete because we can’t see any reason for it not to be. But let’s look at the facts.
Fact one: It is unreasonable to expect 59-year-old Zaphod Beeblebrox founder Eugene Haslam to keep going forever. After suffering a stroke in December, 2010, it seemed likely he would retire then. The fact that he’s kept it running for so long since is more than most people would ever give to a community.
Fact two: His interview does not explicitly say that the bar will close. It says that it is up to us. How would you feel if you left your creation in another’s hands and they dragged its name through the mud? If I were him, I’d want to know that my successor was up to the job.
Fact three: As a city, we’re not exactly great at promoting arts and culture. Every year, more musicians and DJs and artists and other creative people jump ship. They leave for Montreal or Toronto for brighter horizons. The arts scene in Ottawa is dying, and most of us are just watching. If we want cultural hubs like Zaphod’s to stick around, then we’re going to have to dedicate ourselves to showing that we deserve to be trusted with the future of arts and music in this city.
Zac Emery is an Ottawa-based writer, amateur photographer, and karaoke enthusiast. When he’s not pursuing his interests as a writer or doing course work for Algonquin’s Professional Writing program, he can usually be found pretending to be a rock star in front of a mirror or collecting comic books.