The news of Korova’s untimely end has shaken lovers of communal asphyxiation, smoke machines, and top 40 hip hop singles across campus. Just two days after a typically successful $ucka Free Monday (Staight Outta Compton Edition), Korova announced on its Facebook page that it was closing for good, and would celebrate with cheap drinks.
Following the announcement, many jumped to the conclusion that the institution had gone broke, considering it operated on a simple, yet underused, business model: Only break even one day a week. As someone who has gone to Korova on every day of the week, I can assure you that each day it draws in a unique and consistently sweaty crowd of people that consume just as much alcohol as would seem necessary to support a seedy bar/dance floor. Unfortunately, what Korova wasn’t able to support was itself, as its floors literally started caving under the pressure of hundreds of drunk, bouncing club-goers.
What’s happened to Korova is a travesty, one that certainly could never have been prevented by enforcing safety codes or replacing woods that had been weakened by years of spilled beers. Even worse than the ending of the era is the reaction to it, particularly by $ucka Free, the independent collective that hosts hip hop events around Montreal, including $ucka Free Mondays. Like a wolfish ex-lover, $ucka Free bid its adieu to Korova and in the same breath announced that it would be moving its iconic Monday night events to Blizzarts, “precisely one block north of Korova.” The grieving period was short and ruthless.
The problem with the response to the death of Korova is its blatant refusal to acknowledge Korova’s existence as an institution in and of itself, not strictly defined as the host of an outsider’s event. On the Saint Laurent strip, Korova stood apart from the pack as something quintessentially cool without being as pretentious as Apt. 200 or as unnecessarily ‘urban chic’ as SuWu. It had twice as much character as Muzique and Tokyo have creepy old men, and in terms of pure unadulterated griminess, it had no rival. Korova provided just as much free popcorn as Biftek with drinks at half the price, and allowed for both Ivy league stilettos and Blue Dog tier combat boots without judgement. Sure, it couldn’t match the romantic atmosphere of Big in Japan, but it provided just as many opportunities to get lucky. From the dilapidated photo booth, to the sinks that served more as an ironic reminder of how unclean everything was, every inch of Korova was as hectic and eclectic as the community it served.
There is of course an inherent conflict in reactions to Korova’s legacy. To many, it was a place for first years that quickly lost its charm in the smoky air of hormones and crushed PBR tallboys. To others, it was a weekly tradition that always meant good times, wild stories, and decent hip hop that you could actually dance to. Now that its patrons have taken their final walk down the narrow stairwell that was always easier to navigate wasted, it’s hard to tell if another club can live up to Korova’s cover-free, $ucka Free legacy. Blizzarts will have the same DJs, the same hype, but without the deer heads on the wall and the pleather stools to stick to, it can never provide the same dirty, dingy, and distinctive nights.