The price of a club DJ

This afternoon, around 3:30, I climbed the stairs to Bananas Beach Club. The temperature on this Victoria Day Monday was 14C and the skies were cloudy. The beach, which would have been packed,  had it been sunny and a bit warmer, was deserted.

I was met at the door by a muscle-bound bouncer who informed me that there was a $30 cover charge.

“You’re joking, right?”

He wasn’t. Turns out it was an All White Party (though they were willing to let me in with my mostly black attire) that began at 3 pm on a holiday Monday.

On this dreary end to the May 2-4 weekend, the only Wasaga bar open today, with a lofty patio view, had decided to host a VIP party with, I’m guessing, a guy playing songs off a laptop, mixed with turntables to create his “mix.”

I Googled Toronto club DJs and, please correct me if this figure is way low, but they make $250 to $500 a night.

Okay. I’m gonna go into old fart mode and say I will only pay a cover for a live band. Musicians.  Guitar, bass and drums, maybe a sax and, if you’re really lucky, a maraca player.

I wouldn’t pay  $5 for a computer operator masquerading as a DJ but I will set that aside and say hey, there may be thousands of clubgoers who think that’s well worth the price of admission. Fair enough.


From what I’ve been told by club owners, young folks…especially here in the tourist town of Wasaga Beach…will pay $25 to $50 to get into an establishment like Bananas and only purchase one drink and that may only be a bottle of water. They did their drinking at the campground or motel so why bother paying for a $10 beer?

Today, I was only looking for a few $8 Stella tall boys. Well, $8 plus 13 percent GST. Cheers to my fiend Enzo who included the tax in that $8 price the past two summers. Enzo is not managing Bananas this summer and it seems the current managers have boosted the liquor prices.


Ahh, but the beachfront gods have smiled upon yours truly beause my beloved Dardanella, which is 99 years old, will be open at the end of June. I plan to down more than a few beers on the Dard patio.

I should also salute the Sand Bar which, in previous summers, has been the only bar standing on more than a few occasions due to poor managment of Bananas and the Dard btweeen 2007 and 2014. Danny and his staff have been the only constant in a decade or more of turmoil, shady practices and people who didn’t know what the fuck they were doing, or figured they could fuck people over.

And, if you want a voice of reason from a guy who’s seen a bizarre parade of bar owners, managers and staff come and go during the past 25 years, talk to my friend Fred Char at the Burger King below Bananas. A straight shooter with a capital S times two.

I moved to Wasaga in March of 2007 and one of my biggest disappointments was finding out The Dard which, since the ’70s has hosted a who’s who of Canadian rock, from April Wine and Max Webster to the Tea Party and Colin James, was no longer a live rock venue.

The pic above is from the ’40s, when Dardanella patrons dances to the big bands.  Sadly, the dance hall at the rear of the bar has been closed for over a decade and needs major repairs.


My friend and tennis buddy Rick Lazaroff said that his band, Santers, played the long-dormant downstairs room at the The Dyconia in Wasaga and if I could wave a magic wand and bring live rock to the beach, well….in the words of Archibald “Moonlight” Graham from Field of Dreams…

Is there enough magic out there in the moonlight to make this dream come true?

Then again, a few reasonably priced beers at the Dard, with that wonderful beachfront view, will be enough for me.

About johnnymaraca

sole proprietor of Maraca Media, former radio host (Johnny Maraca's Rock & Roll Riot), copywriter and producer and a print journalism grad.
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