The El Mocambo dance studio? Since the legendary Toronto nightspot was sold by owner Lamin Dibba on Friday, the future of live music beneath the neon palms is in doubt. In fact, the venerable sign could be history, too.
According to the new owner, Abbas Jahangiri, who operates National Dance Canada, the rumours are true. His plan is to turn the upstairs room of the landmark Toronto venue -- where the Rolling Stones, Elvis Costello and many others have performed -- into a dance studio. And that's just the beginning of the overhaul.
"The landlord was kicking us out of our current location," says Jahangiri, "so I purchased this building on Spadina. I understand that the El Mocambo is a historic place, so my idea is to keep the first floor for music but put a dance studio on the second floor, a spiritual outreach centre for youth on the third floor and open a women's shelter in the basement. We want to clean up the El Mocambo and make it beautiful."
And what about the neon palms?
"I haven't made a decision on that yet."
While El Mo booker Dan Burke sounds troubled by the surprise sell-off, he's holding out hope for the best.
"There's been so much to deal with in this past week," he groans, "it's going to take some time to digest it all. Unfortunately, if the second floor becomes a dance studio, we'd lose the whole essence of the El Mocambo. I've been told not to book anything upstairs past November 1."