In 2008, local promoters Blue Skies Turned Black bought Zebra Bar, a small watering hole in what’s now known as the Mile Ex neighbourhood, keeping the bar’s guts and tacking on a small stage at the front of the room. But the unorthodox layout — with the stage near the door and bar at the back — gave the space an “awkward vibe,” according to BSTB’s Meyer Billurcu. In 2014, Billurcu bought out his partners and teamed up with Thierry Amar and Efrim Menuck of legendary local post-rock outfit Godspeed You! Black Emperor to revamp the space into a proper venue.
Thus, Bar le Ritz PDB (“Punks Don’t Bend”) was born — a cozy haunt with a vintage wooden bar, open seven days a week from 3pm onward and a calendar packed with musical performances and events.
Bar le Ritz’s fancy name is a misnomer; despite the glittery chandelier that hangs over the bar, the venue is a snug hangout, with a pool table and a small, unpretentious stage. All housed in a squat brick building with a wheelchair-friendly entrance (bathrooms are also accessible, and gender-neutral), the drinks are relatively inexpensive and the bar hosts plenty of inclusive community events like bi-weekly screenings of art films, Rock Camp for Girls fundraisers, stand-up comedy, retro film nights, monthly karaoke and a Gay Goth Night. The bar also helps host the POP Montreal festival.
The music featured at Bar le Ritz is a real mix of poppy fun and more hard rock and punk; ‘Girl Pop Theme Nites’ and K-Pop Video dances alternate with bands like locals TOPS, Thus Owls and How Sad and international acts Dan Deacon, Waxahatchee and Cymbals Eat Guitars. Performances by high-energy bands like Preoccupations lead to raucous mosh pits, and the space can quickly become pretty crowded (capacity is around 150). There is little to no seating on show nights.
The good vibes of Bar le Ritz are perfect for a night out with friends, or to check out an up-and-coming band. The venue is within walking distance of the Metro, and if there’s no show scheduled, entrance is free.