The Dardanella, ghosts and memories

I wrote this two years ago but, after today’s chat with Evita, whose family is running the Dard, Bananas and the Copa, I thought I would repost it. Apparently strange nighttime occurrences are not uncommon at this historic hotel/bar.

In “The Shining,” Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) encounters the ghost of ballroom waiter Delbert Grady. Jack insists Grady was the former caretaker of The Overlook Hotel.

Grady disagrees.

“You have always been the caretaker here, Mister Torrance.”

I feel a similar, less creepy connection to The Dardanella. If reincarnation is real, perhaps I was a customer when the hotel opened in Wasaga Beach in 1918. Maybe I shook the maracas in a big band when folks danced to the sounds of Benny Goodman during World War Two.

My association with the Wasaga landmark began in early ‘90s. I was a copywriter for our sister station, Mix 106-5 (then K106.5) and The Dard advertised with us. I wrote spots promoting shows by the likes of April Wine and Kim Mitchell, and the thought of live rock in a beachfront setting sounded very appealing.

In the fall of 2006, Bayshore Broadcasting received approval for a new station in Wasaga Beach and I jumped at the chance to move there. A few months earlier, I’d even ventured over from Owen Sound to spend the day in what I hoped would be my new home.
Then came the bad news.

While shopping at the CD Shuffle, I overheard the owner telling a customer that The Dard…the hot spot in Wasaga Beach…was no longer a rock club. “It’s a dance bar,” he said.

I couldn’t believe my ears but once I became a Wasaga resident and Dard regular, the shock wore off. I developed affection for what is one of the few remaining links to the beach of decades past.

In chatting with Dard servers…and those young ladies worked their buns off this summer…The Dardanella will stay open till the end of October. So I’ll raise a plastic cup of tourist-priced draft (the added cost is worth it for the view alone) and salute what has been called The Grand Old Lady of Wasaga Beach.

About johnnymaraca

host of Johnny Maraca's Rock & Roll Riot, the rockingest show on the radio. 60 years of rockin' rhythm and blues, from the late '40s pioneers like Louis Jordan to Elvis, Chuck Berry, CCR, Stray Cats, Ramones and tons more. Friday and Saturday nights at 7 on 97.7 the Beach, listen live at http://977thebeach.ca, and WRSG in Middlebourne, West Virginia, Tuesdays 6-8 pm.
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One Response to The Dardanella, ghosts and memories

  1. johnnymaraca says:

    An update to the summer of 2014…The Dardanella (and two other beachfront bars leased by the same people) was shut down August 1st, due to unpaid rent. Right before the long weekend here in Ontario. Right before the hottest stretch of weather we’ve had all summer, after a dismally cool and wet July. It’s the Labour Day weekend and the bars have not been reopened by the property owners. Thanks for nothing!

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