El Mocambo

The El Mocambo Lives! Here’s hoping it can transcend nostalgia

Before we get too excited, let's hope the new owner can bring the iconic Toronto venue beyond its well-worn history.

- Nov 6, 2014

Tonight's Light Of Day concert for Parkinson's research was supposed to be the last stand at the El Mocambo. It was to be an inauspicious end for a venue with a rich history that, despite the story you always always hear, extends beyond The Rolling Stones and Margaret Trudeau. The stage was set, the iconic palm tree sign was uploaded and removed from eBay, and people were ready to mourn yet another piece of faded Toronto cultural history.

That is, until today when a mystery buyer swooped in at the 11th hour and saved the venue from becoming another historic building turned into condos. And if that sounds like the kind of drama you'd find on TV, there's good reason for that. CBC has just confirmed that the buyer is Michael Wekerle, the new Dragon on the CBC game show Dragon's Den. It's easy to doubt his motives. Buying the El Mo is the perfect publicity stunt for the finance mogul - described by CBC as "Mick Jagger meets Warren Buffet" -  to usher in his new TV gig.

But as long as he finds a good booker, one who doesn't book "almost any other musical style other than hip-hop," we can be optimistic that the El Mocambo could be revived as a vital piece of Toronto's musical landscape, not just a living relic existing out of nostalgia and inertia. It couldn't be worse than the last couple of years of corporate parties, Kinks tributes and Battle of the Bands. That was just a bummer.

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