Arts

ZAPHOD BEEBLEBROX, THE self-proclaimed “bar at the end of the universe,” sits quietly in the heart of the ByWard Market—yet on the inside it is anything but quiet as the iconic bar is gearing up to celebrate its 20th birthday. Having seen the rise of grunge, hip-hop, boy bands, and recently dubstep, owner Eugene Haslam has done his best to keep Zaphod’s in Ottawa’s spotlight.

According to Haslam, the success of the bar lies within the raw and honest approach the Zaphod’s staffers, and Haslam himself, take to work every day.

“Mainly we do what we do because we believe in what we do,” he says. “I guess people of all ages get that and think what we do is pretty interesting and different from what they are usually offered. We’ve been doing this for 20 years now and for some reason, we get people … from all walks of life. This is one of the things that sets us apart.”

As motivated as ever, Haslam knows the importance of this anniversary for his nightclub, but isn’t ready to look in the rearview mirror just yet.

“Today!” answers Haslam, when asked about his favourite moment running Zaphod Beeblebrox. “The fact that we can still be here 20 years later is a testament to doing something right and appealing to Ottawa for many generations.”

As for keeping pace in the Ottawa music scene, Haslam is confident his crew at Zaphod’s has a game plan to keep fresh among an audience with constantly changing demands. With new music booked, a smart phone app on the market, and a revamped website, Zaphod’s has managed to stay a step ahead of the game.

“If you check out our new website and look back at some of the shows since 1993, you’re going to say, ‘Wow, really? They played at Zaphod’s?’” says Haslam.
“We do stuff before the world knows about it. With the addition of the new Zaphod Beeblebrox app, we’re staying current with the times and making it easy for people to find out what is going on.”

A large part of Haslam’s confidence in Zaphod’s popularity comes from how he challenges audiences to grow and develop musically, outside their regular confines.

“One thing I think is really important is to have a broad base of music and in some ways entice the audience to lift the bar that high, so that they will experience and discover new music.”

For those wondering where the name Zaphod Beeblebrox stems from, Haslam answers the mystery.

“Zaphod Beetlebrox was a character in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and he was a pretty interesting dude who just drifted about,” explains Haslam. “Wherever he went within the galaxy he seemed to fit in and just be happy living his adventure. So I guess with us, in the quadrant that is Ottawa, we are just living our adventure.”

Jason Rose