Vancouver Neighbourhoods: Davie Village

Davie Village is one of Vancouver’s most festive neighbourhoods (Tourism Vancouver/Michael Song).

Davie Village is one of Vancouver’s most festive neighbourhoods with flags and sunburst banners adorning lampposts, rainbow décor adding pops of colour, and patios packed with revelers on sunny days. Situated in the West End and known for its thriving community of gay and lesbian residents, Davie Village imbues a chill vibe for meandering the streets by day, and thumping clubs and pubs that come alive at night.

History

In the 1940s, wealthy families in Vancouver began gravitating to the appealing Shaughnessy and Kitsilano neighbourhoods – and a new generation of West Enders moved into the apartments that replaced their mansions. These residents included a high percentage of young gay men, who were attracted to the West End’s affordability and anonymity at a time when homosexuality was still illegal.

In the late 1960s, homosexuality was decriminalized, and the gay population in the West End began to grow. Residents banded together as a community, and organized one of Vancouver’s first pride parades. Gay bars and dance venues flourished. Soon, the neighbourhood had become a symbol for gay liberation; and, in 1999, the Davie Street Business Association created the moniker “Davie Village”.

Today, Vancouver’s LGBTQ2+ community is no longer concentrated in Davie Village – but the neighbourhood’s legacy remains of creating a community where every person belongs.

Dining and Nightlife

Davie Street is full of restaurants and shops waiting to be explored (Flickr/Christopher Small).

Sunshine brings Davie Village to life with locals and visitors flocking to buzzy patios – you might even find yourself rubbing elbows with the community’s popular drag queens. Multicultural fare is plentiful with options ranging from Greek to Malaysian – try Stepho’s Souvlaki Greek Taverna, whose hefty portions are the ultimate comfort food indulgence; Kingyo Izakaya, consistently named among the best izakaya in the city with aesthetically presented tapas and Japanese-inspired cocktails; and Espana, encouraging intimate meals with Spanish-influenced share plates and wine. Waiting in line for a patio seat at The Score is worth it, especially if you’re prepared to indulge in the sports bar’s outrageous Caesars, including the new Caesar Grande, which is piled-high with corn dogs, mac-and-cheese balls, a burger and other heart-stopping excesses.

In the evening, Davie Village crackles with energy as the epicenter of Vancouver’s gay nightlife scene. Clubs like Celebrities, Junction and Numbers Cabaret attract visitors ready to play with globally-renowned DJs, trivia nights and audience-participation burlesque performances.

Shopping

Davie Village businesses show visitors some love (Flickr/Sherwood411).

Independent stores dominate Davie Village. Must-visits include famed LGBTQ2+ bookstore Little Sister’s Book and Art Emporium; high-fashion boutiques like Brooklyn Clothing; vintage shops such as The Attic Thrift Store; and Marquis Wine Cellars, one of the city’s best wine emporiums.

Things to See and Do

Davie Village is at the centre of the annual Vancouver Pride Parade and Festival (Tourism Vancouver/Michael Song).

At the intersection of Davie and Bute streets, you’ll find Canada’s first permanent rainbow-coloured crosswalk, which debuted during Vancouver Pride celebrations in 2013. After photographing the milestone attraction, head for Jim Deva Plaza – named after the longtime community activist and founder of Little Sister’s – which is marked by lively lighting and décor, a speaker’s corner with megaphone, and frequent workshops and events.

Each August, Davie Village is at the centre of Vancouver’s Pride Parade and Festival, which attracts hundreds of thousands of locals and visitors from around the world. In fact, Davie Street hosts its own dance party towards the end of the festival with colourful performances at multiple stages, a disco led by several DJs, poetry readings, Pride-inspired cocktails and food and, of course, nonstop dancing.

A major part of experiencing Davie Village is slipping into the local lifestyle. Grab a coffee from one of the neighbourhood’s many cafes, then stroll from busy Burrard Street down the hill, towards English Bay and the sparkling Pacific Ocean. However you choose to roam the ‘hood, one thing’s certain – you’ll never be bored in Davie Village!

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