Note: This is a work in progress and will have additional content added both in the Map (i.e. venue images) or in the body of this post (i.e. a list of the venues in questioned, grouped by status etc).
Feel free to comment, give suggestions etc – this was put together as part of thebigcity’s on-going Venues archive.
Current Status: Demolished post-earthquake and replaced by the Margaret Mahy playground.
Active as a live music venue: 1927 – 2011
Bar Manager: Keith
Capacity: Around 300 in the main bar and 70 in the ballroom.
The Christchurch Media Club was a large building on Armagh Street, next to the notoriously seedy Centennial Pool. Broken up in to several parts – It had a mid-sized hall with hard-wood floors, a large performing stage and bar (used mostly for Media Club patrons, housing pool tables, darts etc), the smaller ‘Winter Garden’ ballroom where most live performances occurred – which was carpeted and decked out in ornate ceiling alcoves, plus a hallway, toilets and a small kitchen.
Though the main bar gave the appearance of an old tavern or sports bar, the venue had a storied history, with the Winter Garden Ballroom a notable part of Christchurch history.
Opened in 1927 as a cabaret and social hall, The Winter Garden was a sparkling venue in the Christchurch social scene. Originally a dance studio, the building was refitted for its opening with a sprung floor in the ballroom and the addition of a supper room and kitchen. The original décor was deep maroon suede, and there was a large mural depicting nymphs in a sylvan (forest) setting.
This storied history continued through the 1940’s through 1960’s, with debutante balls and formal diners being a regular use of the dapper, ornately decorated ballroom. Remodeled in a ‘most delicate pink’ in the 1960’s, the venue surely reached it’s peak when the Queen dined here in 1964 – Christchurch Libraries noting:
During this time the venue boasted a 12-piece band – including drums, piano, saxophone, and clarinet. The band dressed in blue, Bermuda-style tuxedos.
However, as interest in ballroom dancing declined in the 1980’s the venue was purchased by the monolithic Lion Breweries, then passed on to the Trade Union Centre, who in turn leased it to the Christchurch Media Club.
By the 1990’s the lush interior was now vary faded and quite grotty, however it became a favorite location for local shows, particularly of the underground or experimental variety.
With thick carpet, a decent PA system, and comfortable couches – it was the easiest of places to put on a show, particularly if you got on with perennially grumpy barman Keith. It was also a great venue when it came to live music photography, as hopefully my own Flickr photo-stream shows.
The fringe music collective ‘Borderline Ballroom’ established themselves with shows in the smaller ballroom with regular shows over the course of the mid to late 2000’s. The Media Club was also a good choice for All-Age shows for a period, as the main bar was essentially a separate venue from the ballroom, as a result quite a few A Low Hum double-headers took place either in the ballroom or across both rooms.
The bar closed in 2009, however the Christchurch Music School MAINZ took over, using it as a teaching space and even hosting some All Age shows.
Unfortunately Christchurch lost one of it’s most beloved live venues when the Earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 struck, however the site was incorporated into the wonderful Margaret Mahy Playground – one of the highlights of rebuilt Christchurch.
1927: Opened as The Winter Garden as a Cabaret and Social hall.
1960: Remodeled in light pink, ‘Sapphire Room’ added.
1964: Host to the Queen during her formal visit.
1984: Lion breweries buys the venue before on-selling to the Trade Union Centre, who demolishes half of the venue for car parking.
2009: Main bar closes. MAINZ takes over, using the venue for teaching purposes, plus putting on the occasional All-Ages show.
2011: Heavily damaged and eventually demolished post-Earthquake, replaced by the Margaret Mahy Playground.
Location: 840 Colombo Street, Central Christchurch
Current Status: Demolished
Active as a live music venue: 1990’s – 2006?
Bar Manager: –
Two-room Vegetarian Cafe at the Northern end of Colombo Street. Eventually a bar was built into the left-side of the venue, with (mostly acoustic) bands performing at the front of the room pressed against the big roadside windows.
From all accounts the food was very very good vegetarian fare, with C4 coffee and a bar stocked with what seemed at the time like exotic foreign beers and other alcohols.
Generally got pretty decent crowds due to the cramped size of the venue plus the walk-up nature of performing there (it was quite easy to entice people walking up Colombo to come inside, while playing).
One of my very first performing experiences was here, as a guest performer with the ‘Davidson Collective’ – it was a very welcoming place. One notable aspect was the walls of the performing room which were covered in a fantastic collection of classic New Zealand gig posters, sadly removed when the venue was refitted some time in the early 00’s.
Went out of business around 2006 and was knocked down prior to the Canterbury Earthquakes. An office complex is currently (July 2017) being constructed on the site.
1998?: Bar built at the rear of the left room.
2001?: Ownership change, interior redesign.
2006: Mainstreet closes down and is eventually demolished.
Warehouse and studio space occupied by ‘The Henrys’ – i.e. Henry Nicol and Henri Kerr of local industrial / punk / noise group Log Horn Breed (hence the name), plus local punk figurehead Lance Downing, post-earthquakes. Together the trio formed Pavement Saw, who became a regular site at Log Recording shows.
The Henry’s had previously been regulars at All Plastic Recordings, prior to moving in to the Log Recording warehouse (and eventually building the studio) in 2014.
Along with Pagan House in Richmond, Log Recording was a prominent house party venue till finally closing in early 2017. The downstairs warehouse space was very large and open plan, with huge rolling doors, often opened up so performances could expand out into the car park area that surrounded the venue.
Due to the occupants musical connections, shows there erred towards punk or underground sounds – even hosting the annual ‘Nevermind the PunkFest‘ event on a couple of occasions. Shows at Log had a communal vibe to them, with kids and the occasional dog attending the odd day-time show, punters bringing their own food and alcohol, and laying back on the communal couches.
Eventually Log Recording did manage to acquire some community funding through the Rata Foundation, however within a few months the occupants had their lease ended and had to shut up shop. Since the venue closed, Log have gone on to promote shows at other venues, primarily New City Hotel.
Aside from hosting house parties, Log was used for a handful of Art installations, plus the studio space was used for several band recordings – primarily those of Log Horn Breed, Les Baxters and Leather Image.
2014: Henry Nicol and Henri Kerr rent 48 Lismore Street, start converting downstairs area into a performance space and an adjacent studio.
2016: Community funding acquired through the Rata Foundation. Space transforms into an All Arts space.
2017: Lismore Street lease ends, Log Recording starts promoting events at New City Hotel.
Wonderful now-defunct 4-piece shoe-gazers out of the garden city that put out 2 7″ Lathe Cut EPs, and a stunning 6-track album that turned out to be their parting recording some 2 years later.
Comparisons could be drawn to My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and “Nowhere“ era Ride – but Barnard’s Star took a decidedly more ethereal approach – distilling the shoe-gazer sound to a fine pulsing tone, which was quite a spectacle live.
Playing coffee houses and small gigs in sporadic fashion, they became quite the cult act – especially due to their apparent lack of recorded material, so when they broke up in 2002 – their recordings became as scarce as the musicians themselves.
Winstanley has gone on to form the Undercurrents and now has involvement with the Creation venue and art-space, whilst bass player Helen Greenfield and guitarist Nick Guy went into seclusion, eventually performing (so far a single gig!) material as Helen and Nick with a synth-drone focus.
Finally their drummer Tyrone Thorn (who replaced original drummer Fraser and also handled some drum programming and sampling duties on the EP) moved to Sydney, forming electro outfit Swingingtastybag.
Open-plan two-story Cafe on a (previously) busy corner in central Christchurch – Java was a quirky place with a colorful interior, good coffee and food. When Cafe’s were starting to explode in the late 90’s, Java was one of the places to be for young people in Christchurch.
As a result they pumped a lot of good music and put on the occasional live show, with a handful of musicians working behind the counter over the years. Java was also heavily tied to local dance music, promoting locals raves alongside the original Cosmic Corner (which was just down High Street).
The Cafe was heavily damaged in the February 2011 Earthquake and eventually demolished, now replaced by a commercial building next to Strangers Lane.
2011: Damaged in the Canterbury Earthquakes, Demolished in July 2011.
Location: 69-75 Manchester Street, Central Christchurch
Current Status: Demolished post-earthquake, replaced by commercial buildings
Active as a live music venue: 2000’s
Bar Manager: –
Cecil House was an old retail and residential building on the corner of Manchester and Welles street that was eventually damaged, then demolished after the Canterbury Earthquakes of 2010 / 2011.
Though original built as a Hotel around 1905, by the 1980’s the building had become a mix of residential accommodation and retail shop-fronts. The building itself had fallen in to disrepair and became suitably cheap accommodation, with quite a few musicians occupying flats in the 2nd and 3rd floor during the 1980’s and 1990’s.
As a result quite a few large-scale house parties were held here during the 90’s and in to the 2000’s.
Built around 1905, originally as a Hotel
Fell in to disrepair during the 1980’s and 1990’s
Many musicians lived here during the 1990’s and 2000’s
Damaged then demolished after the Canterbury Earthquakes of 2010 / 2011
Old and dilapidated wooden villa on Madras Street that functioned as a rather excellent venue for house parties and all-age events for a few years prior to the Canterbury Earthquakes in 2010 / 2011.
Occupied by a variety of individuals connected to Christchurch live music, student radio (RDU) and all-ages (Red Panda) scenes, the house was opened up for day time shows on the front-lawn or in the living room.
The occupants lived through the 2010 / 2011 Canterbury Earthquakes, but eventually moved out – the owners then discovering how extensively damaged the building was – though the original building still stands as of 2017.
Former tenant, Red Panda member and RDU Sheep Technique DJ Eamonn Marra provided a (presumed) complete list of the acts that played the Log Cabin over the years: