If you didn't live in Whistler during The Boot Pub's heyday you will undoubtedly encounter tales of glorious debauchery from those years.
The bar was one of Whistler's longest running venues — known for its punk nights and concerts — until it was shuttered in 2004.
Now, one former staffer is putting together a reunion event for patrons, performers and staff to get together and reminisce about the old days. "There was absolutely nothing like it," says Paul McNaught, who worked at the venue in various capacities, including as manager for 14 years. "It was a very unique place."
After one too many locals began bugging him about putting together some kind of reunion event, McNaught reached out to the members of the sort of-defunct former Whistler band Slow Nerve Action. Two of the band members live in Ontario, but reunited for a pair of shows in Whistler and Golden about two years ago.
It took awhile for the self-described "porn-funk band" to come up with dates that would work for everyone — two of them are new fathers — but finally they settled on Aug. 24 for the reunion show at The GLC.
"I loved The Boot," says Josh Gontier, guitarist and vocalist for the group, over the phone from his Scarborough home. "No offense to any other place in town, because I loved a lot of the places we played, but I liked the grit The Boot had. A lot of places in Whistler are a little more polished. Maybe I'm a dirtbag from way back, but The Boot felt more comfortable."
Part coincidence and part no coincidence at all, the band went their separate ways shortly after the venue closed. "I moved back to Ontario when The Boot closed," Gontier says. "It wasn't just because it closed, obviously, but I don't know. It might have been a small part of it."
The group will meet in Vancouver a few days before the reunion to rehearse at a rented studio and play one city gig at The Fairview Pub Aug. 23 before the big homecoming show. "It'll be great," he says. "It's a fun bunch of guys and we always had fun playing. I can't wait. It'll be a good party."
McNaught says he's also looking forward to the festivities. "There's a million stories," he says. "It's about getting the old folks together and revisiting the old memories."
Bands that graced The Boot Pub stage include The Tragically Hip, The Watchmen, Michael Franti & Spearhead, D.O.A. and SNFU, to name just a few. "It was just the greatest place for live music," he says.
(The "Boot Ballet" a.k.a. exotic dancers were also a hit. Whistler council banned the entertainment from the resort shortly after the bar closed.)
Gontier's favourite memories there include New Year's Eve and Halloween gigs, along with their venue debut, during which lead singer Chris Berry donned a beaver skin hat and jock strap only to discover his aunt and uncle with a video camera in the crowd.
"We called him MC Logger," he says. "His uncle videotaped the whole thing and showed it to all his family members."
Still, he adds, "Most of the best stories I can't tell you."
Tickets for the show are on sale now for $20 at the GLC.