First week of new Kamloops nightclub opens a bit of a hustle

David Pup Johnson stands in front of a new mural on the walls of his new nightclub called Nightshift on Fifth in Kamloops.

(Shannon Ainslie/

A new nightclub opened in downtown Kamloops nearly a week ago, drawing crowds of revelers who lined up on the first night, Sept. 9.

Co-owner David Pup Johnson is still working to complete renovations and update the interior design of Nightshift on Fifth.

“We’ve been incredibly busy and don’t have time to do all the changes and updates yet,” he said. “Opening after only a month must be a record somewhere.”

Although Johnson has decades of experience owning nightclubs – he also owns the Blue Grotto on Victoria Street – this new venue is much bigger and more updates are needed than he had anticipated when he and his partner Sherri Lynn King took ownership on August 1. 1.

Johnson has worked tirelessly on the place since and there is still a lot to do, but he loves seeing it transform.

“We thought the place was turnkey, but it wasn’t,” he said. “We had to repair sales terminals and ID scanners, and some computers were missing.

“We had to do work on the floors which took days and the sound system had to be repaired. We were supposed to have bars and railings around the stage and metal stairs, but that didn’t happen.

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Johnson said that unlike the smaller Blue Grotto, Nightshift on Fifth is so large it is considered a “super club” with a capacity of 625 people.

“This place is wild, it’s a good place,” he said. “If you had that in Vancouver, it would be a great club. Anything over 400 is considered entering a bigger nightclub, they don’t give out licenses like this all the time.

The location at 130 Fifth Street was once Cactus Jack’s, a country bar. It’s not a theme Johnson is pursuing.

“We redid the counters and I ripped out the cross braids above the entryway,” he said. “We go for a steampunk look. Some of the lights we keep because they are a bit steampunk and we put in some steampunk art.

“I put flight on the bars, they had round edges but the drinks were falling off so I took the edge off to expose some really good wood. We stained the countertop with wax and applied epoxy over it.

The old stage was transformed into a living room with comfortable sofas and a new stage was created on the ground floor.

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The new club hosts DJs and live bands, featuring top 40 hits and will host more diverse events down the road.

“The acoustics aren’t the best here,” Johnson said. “There is an echo from the concrete floor. But you don’t even notice it when the room is full of people.

The huge room has a pool table, pinball machines, two bars, a dance floor and a lounge area. There’s hardwood floors stretching throughout and edgy, futuristic artwork on the walls.

Local artists are currently working on a large funky sign for the building.

As customers and entertainment flocked to have fun and celebrate the new club last week, Johnson said at one point he had to “focus on what matters”.

“Alcohol service, entertainment and security, but not in that specific order,” he joked. “Safety first, entertainment second and liquor service third.”

Johnson is grateful for the continued encouragement he receives from the community as he continues to shape and define Nightshift on Fifth.

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