The Tastemakers is a new bi-monthly feature in which culture co-editor Jessica speaks with local influencers – Montreal’s “cultural curators,” be it in visual arts, filmmaking, or general coolness.
Any Montrealer with a even a slight inclination towards nocturnal activities has undoubtedly felt the buzz surrounding St. Laurent recently, all thanks to two new establishments that defy usual categories of the local club scene – Suwu and 3643 St. Laurent Apt. 200. These fresh institutions are remarkable in that they have been bringing together stylish individuals across multiple ‘scenes,’ uniting everyone over a mutual love of good drinks, great music, and vintage arcade games.
One of the men behind these tour-de-force clubs, Zach Macklovitch, is also behind promotional behemoth Saintwoods, responsible for putting on some of the coolest parties Montreal has seen as of late. Through Saintwoods, he’s worked with nearly everyone – from big names like Calvin Harris and Deadmau5, to rising producers like Cyril Hahn and Moon Boots, just to name a few. Zach himself hails from the West Island – and at only 23, his accomplishments are dizzying. Perhaps it has something to do with his incessant energy: when we entered the sleek Saintwoods offices to interview the man in charge, we were met with a flurry of activity and construction. Zach stood at the center of the action, directing his cohorts this way and that. Spotting us, he bounded over, apologizing profusely and explaining that they were in the process of expanding their offices, hoping to turn the upstairs portion into a photography/artist’s studio (the bottom level is already attached to street-art gallery Station 16).
We decided to do the interview at Apt. 200. Walking over, Zach stopped to double kiss three separate people – over a single block. “I guess you could say all of St. Laurent is your office, right?” I asked. Zach laughed good-humouredly but said nothing.
Settling into Apt. 200’s plushy couches, Zach takes us back to a bygone era on The Main. “It was a different time in the early 2000s – you’d go clubbing when you were like 15, 16 years old,” he reminisces. “I got bit by the bug early being taken out by my friend’s uncles.” A classic Montreal tale, but times have changed: St. Laurent businesses are closing, and that famous stretch between Sherbrooke and Rachel lacks the dynamic air it once had.
Zach Macklovitch, however, still saw potential. Him and his partner, Nathan Gannage, approached the owners of flailing Gino hotspot Cafeteria and asked if they could rebrand their club; soon after, it turned into Suwu, and a few months later Apt. 200 opened for business. Running two successful clubs and a promotional company is no piece of cake, but Zach thrives on being overloaded. “I always put a lot of stuff on my plate and just make sure it gets done,” he says. “We work quick, there is no point in elongating something. If you can do it quickly then do it quickly and move on.”
Hence, Zach’s refreshingly simple approach to hard work. It’s this simplicity in attitude which has carried over to his bars and parties – on any given night, you can see “kids from McGill, kids from the Plateau, black kids, white kids, gay kids and straight kids,” as he puts it, “and everyone is having a dope time.” Saintwoods, Suwu, and Apt. 200 have become the antidote to the cliquy nature of Montreal’s very divided nightlife scene. Zach is a sort of neo-hippie businessman, bringing diverse individuals together with a unified goal of hedonism.
“We gotta work together, Montreal isn’t a big enough city to be cliquy,” Zach warns. “Cities collapse these days. We gotta break down these cliques for businesses to thrive.” He sees a lot of potential in his native city, however. “We have a great arts scene, we have great musicians, and an accessible night scene,” he says. “People just don’t hustle here like they do in Toronto or New York.”
Zach’s ultimate take away message to young Montrealers: work hard and don’t be a snob. “It’s very easy to open a shitty bar, you don’t have to,” he says. “It’s the people who go above and beyond, the people who really hustle hard, that I respect.”
By Jessica Prupas
Photos by Philip Tabah