Also known as: Llanmaes, Canterbury College Student Association
Location: 41 Hereford Street, Central Christchurch
Current Status: In Repair – may never be a venue again
Active as a live music venue: 1978 – February 2011
Bar Manager: Ross Herrick (till 2011)
Capacity: 100 in the main bar, up to 200 upstairs
Long-running Christchurch live-music venue based out of the Christchurch Art Center as part of a multi-use building, along with a vegetarian restaurant and an upstairs bar / private venue and office spaces.
The Dux was notable on a few fronts:
Live shows at the Dux were almost always free, a tradition they kept going through-out the venues 30 year history. The Dux was actually a very good spot to see up and coming music acts too – due to connections to student radio station RDU (now a private enterprise), regular ‘Battle of the Bands’ nights played out, with heavily biased judges promoting those groups that fit in to the current indie / underground trends.
Due to the Dux’s restaurant connection the pub food on offer was always terrific – the best nacho’s and wedges in town for many a year. This also coincided with excellent international food stall offers during the weekend, as the Art Center’s food trucks were just a few meters away from the Dux’s outdoor seating. A 3rd crown in their culinary jewel was the excellent locally brewed beverages on tap – the Dux’s own Ginger Tom alcoholic ginger beer was a particular favorite.
The venue itself was always bustling – due to the combination of free entry, close-proximity to a healthy, bustling market located within a tourist attraction in its own right (the Art Center complex), and the venues word-of-mouth reputation with young international travelers. Booking agent / bar manager Ross Herrick was top notch and made setting up shows there a breeze; the Dux always had great advertising, and the likes of gear setup and soundcheck were always a breeze.
Fairly small and L-Shaped, it was fairly easy to make the place look packed out – though it had a reasonable maximum capacity (due to there being 3 easily accessible exits), which often led to people hanging out the doors on warm evenings. A prime spot for watching bands was sitting to each side of the stage under the windows that ran the length of the venue, or up front on the (usually freshly cleaned) carpet in front of the stage.
The PA was reasonably powerful and had great sound both from the audience and the stage – large main speakers that hung from the ceiling each side of the stage, plus a trio of feedback wedges up front and beside the drum-riser. The sound-desk was located next to the bar opposite the stage, and made for easy communication during sets – it was also convenient when trying to get drinks to the band! Also notable was the lighting system – full colour gels flanked each side of the stage, giving the room excellent ambiance and made for terrific live music photos.
A variety of bands played the main venue over the years, from young and unremembered to some of New Zealand more notable acts – with quite a few international groups over the years too. When the 2nd large earthquake struck in February 2011, the Dux de Lux was one of the most iconic parts of Christchurch that was lost. Though 2 bars (and a restaurant) using the Dux name have sprung up in recent years, none has come close to the feeling of the original.
In 2022 old proprietor Richard Sinke finally announced plans to restore the old venue after years of conflict with the Arts Centre.
1872: Canterbury College (which would eventually eventually become Canterbury University) is formed, with premise bounded by Worcester, Rolleston, Hereford and Montreal Streets.
1883: The Dux De Lux’s building is constructed as a private residence for John Lewis, given the Welsh name Llanmaes.
1894: Canterbury University Students Association is formed.
1921: The Students Association set aside a tea-room within Llanmaes.
1926: The Students Association purchase Llanmaes – the last privately owned building within the block, and over the next few years the site is redeveloped in a Gothic style and extended, eventually opening as the Student Union in 1929.
1954: A fire damaged much of the interior, over the next two years the site was repaired with a dining room and 3 meeting rooms added.
1978: Canterbury University is now permanently at their larger Riccarton campus, and the Dux de Lux is born as a bar, live music venue and restaurant.
2010/2011: Two major earthquakes cause significant damage, closing the Dux de Lux and the Art Center in its entirety.
2011: Richard Sinke unsuccessfully lobbies to restore and reopen the original building. Sinke opens ‘Dux Live’ as a live music venue in an old warehouse at 363 Lincoln road.
2012: Dux dine (i.e. replacing the old vegetarian restaurant) opens at 28 Riccarton road.
2015: Dux central opens at 144 Lichfield Street.
2016: Dux live closes.
2022: Richard Sinke again lobbies for the restoration of the original venue, targeting 2024 for re-opening
- Dux De Lux
- 41 Hereford Street, Central Christchurch, New Zealand
- Closed Permanently
- Wikipedia entry on the history of the site
- Official Website
- Official Facebook
- ‘The people’s pub’ – plan to restore beloved Dux de Lux in Christchurch Arts Centre
- Arts Centre rejects offer to restore Dux de Lux in exchange for 50 years’ free rent
- Christchurch mayor wants money to help restore former Dux de Lux