Fortune Sound Club's five-year anniversary celebrates a career of cultural impetus
Businessmen, club-owners and culture-movers Rob Rizk and Garret Louie threw their annual celebratory Saturnalia with equal parts gratitude and partying.
It was a dreary, wind-soaked Thursday night. Paper wrappers and crushed pop-cans clung to the uneven pavement of East Pender Street’s 100 block. Damp odours wafted out of a nearby alley, past the doorstep of Fortune Sound Club. Up a lengthy cascade of stairs—where beats bumped and glasses clinked—Fortune’s fifth fortuitous year was capped off, hurrahed, and turned-up.
Through a set of double doors, I exited the dance floor and walked down a set of stairs muralled with monochromatic phantasmagoria. In a low room enclosed by milky walls and concrete floors, I sat on a tufted leather couch to speak with the two owners.
Fortune’s legacy began with the party passions of Garret “GMAN” Louie and Rob Rizk. Louie—the distributional stalwart and grassroots brand promoter of Timebomb Trading—and Rizk—an original b-boy and hip-hop maven—founded the club when a friend reneged on a business license and offered it to Rizk.
Long-time Rizk collaborator DJ Flipout (left) and DJ Marlon J. English (right).
After years of promoting parties at less-than-patron-friendly establishments, Louie and Rizk wanted to know “why can’t we create a venue that’s chill?” One where customers don’t get unreasonably roughed-up by disrespectful bouncers, or harassed for their choice of hat.
Fortune was the answer to their clubbing conundrum. A music-first, vibe-forward venue that embodied cultural aspects important to them. Hip-hop, dance music, Los Angeles, skateboarding—these ingredients definitely factor into the equation, but Louie insisted “we didn’t want anything to do with what’s been done. . . . We wanted to create our own scene.”
Sure they’ve created their own scene—in terms of a boutique nightclub and underground-music/art venue—but their ‘scene’ is also the pull they’ve created to that underdog area.
Fresh investment shines on the otherwise dumpy Chinatown side-street. Since Fortune’s inception in 2010, Flatspot Longboards (est. August 2012), hipster hot-dog joint Bestie (est. June 2013), and a new El Kartel (est. April 2014) have all joined the huddle around the bumpin’ sound club.
Although anniversaries inspire fond, reflective moments, like the grateful speech the owners gave to loyal friends, staff and customers, most of my memories of the evening involve intoxicants and booty-shaking. And who in the world could help themselves, when surprise guest Sisqó cartwheeled onto the scene? Yes, cartwheeled.
One fan was particularly 'touched' by Sisqó's performance.
Fortune’s stage never looked so small, as the A-list performer spun, bounded and belted over every one of its square-centimetres. What's one way to #DescribeThe90sIn4Words? "Thong, th-thong, thong, thong." (Watch for Sisqó’s comeback album Last Dragon, set to release February 10.)
Now the question’s clearly: how do the savvy owners push forward for the next 5 years to come? Well, since buying the property last year, they’ve added another Livestock (Louie, Rizk and Gary Bone’s successful Vancouver-Toronto sneaker/clothing shop) next door, and have plans for the remaining floorspace underneath Fortune.
GMAN and Rizk said they’re toying with the prospect of opening a restaurant, but stress the necessity of finding the right partner. “It’s gotta fit Livestock and it’s gotta fit Fortune,” a 20-year-old focus on branding that's both their existing structure and new foundation for future prosperity.
Zoe Peled, Marketing and Administrative Manager at Fortune (centre) with friends Kassandra Guagliardi, west coast editor of HipHopCanada (left), and Michelle Etienne (right).
Mitch Morcilla, Director of Security and Operational Manager at Fortune (right) with friends Justin Chorbajian (left) and John Lyle (centre).
DJ Genie (left) and DJ Cherchez (right)
DJ Rico Uno (left) and DJ Sincerely Hana (right)
All photos by MARK GUTKNECHT
Watch some '93 footage of Rizk dancing for a young Madchild and DJ Flipout.
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