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The Sanctuary

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Image credit: The Sanctuary by D’Arcy Norman

I have a lot to say about the awesomeness that was the Northern Voice experience this past weekend (and I have a post in draft about that), but for now I just want to take a moment to talk about The Sanctuary (or Sanctuary Studios), which is the jam space in Vancouver, BC wherein a lot of the magic of #nv11 happened—special thanks to grant Jason Toal, Brian Lamb, and Grant Potter for making this all happen. Let me preface my remarks by saying I am a complete newbie to bands, jam spaces, and the entire culture that surrounds being in a band. And to be honest it is quickly becoming a regret I hadn’t been part of something like this sooner, but I guess the lesson of this year’s Norther Voice for me is it is never too late to strike out and make it happen—dreams can come true when you are surrounded by amazing people.

So on to the point of this post, The Sanctuary was a pretty amazing space, and not simply because they have amazing rehearsal spaces (see D’Arcy’s image above) but also because the place itself has a sense of narrative, nostalgia, and 80s b-movie horror. While we were jamming in the rehearsal space Mikhail pulled me aside and said you have to go up to the attic, and am I ever so glad he did. When you walk up to the attic it is an open, den-like space with low ceilings and wall-to-wall carpet. There is an old furniture-sized TV with an 80s game station (NES?)—it is decorated in the vein of an attic from the 80s. In one corner of the room there is a space with old school posters of Kiss, Mötley Crüe, and other 70s/80s heavy metal bands. In that little corner there is an entrance to what seems like a secret room (which is where the video below begins) and in this hidden chamber there are all kinds of missing persons signs covered in blood plastered all over one wall. On the opposite wall there were horror masks that are truly creepy, and a old West, confederate ghost/mannequin that seemed as if it was ready to come to life. It truly captured a spirit of claustrophobic, creepy 80s horror films brilliantly.

Image credit: D’Arcy Norman’s “Horror Show” (my name for this picture not his ;) )

And if you walk back through the den you come to another spot in the attic that actually takes you to a spot where you can look down on the first floor and see the cinema, and the tops of all the rehearsal spaces. What’s cool is that directly across the open space of the foyer is a makeshift stage space for a horror-movie inspired band of mannequins that are dressed up like Jason, a big-headed naked woman, a little devil and an asylum inmate in a straight jacket (see D’Arcy’s photo for all the gory details). What’s more there was a nice little pirate banner with pigtails which I would love to get my own version of, but can’t find it online. And here is the video Mikhail took while we were in the attic, forgive my slurring and general disorientation—I was taking a heavy dose of cough medicine that night.

And then of course the devil D’Arcy broke!

Image credit: D’Arcy Norman’s “Dead Devil”

Fact is, the attic was a beautiful performance in and of itself of an early 80s space. This idea of imbuing a space with character and framing a time-specific narrative premised on nostalgia is what the Sanctuary is all about. Places like this are rare, and this one is a gem amongst gems. Special thanks to the folks at Sanctuary Studios for brilliantly attending to the basics and the creepy details—you’re a bunch of artists and your space rocks!

You can find Sanctuary Studios on Facebook here and Twitter here.

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