Up a flight of steep stairs in the industrial area of Langley, sits fourteen pool tables – and a juke box thrown in for good measure – inside a sprawling space that seems like it exists only in another era.
As of the end of the month, it will be the end of an era for Ballroom Billiards; the business will be closing after 25 years in Langley – 15 of them spent at 100-19335 Langley Bypass.
Candi Williams, the pool hall’s manager, told the Langley Advance Times that the business’s rent suddenly doubled at the end of last year, making it unaffordable for Ballroom Billiards to remain in its location.
“It’s been difficult with such short notice,” she said, referring to the hall as the second home.
While Williams has only be employed at Ballroom Billiards for seven months, she called it her favourite job and thanked the owner, Tony Gomez, for taking her under his wing – particularly when she struggled with a recent health diagnosis.
“Out of all my career choices, this was the one that felt best in a way of giving back,” Williams explained.
Open seven days a week from 5:30 p.m. to well after midnight, Ballroom Billiards has a bar and kitchen on one side and all of the tables spread out on the other.
“It’s a small kitchen, but we pump a lot of food out,” she noted.
No alcohol is allowed to cross the floor, meaning players under the age of 19 can access the pool tables.
“People who come in are from Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley, Aldergrove… it’s the only pool hall on this side of the bridge,” Williams said, stressing that the clientele is what makes it all worth it for her.
“B.C. pool leagues fill up the tables on certain nights, but you have young people coming in to hang out and younger couples who were just discovering the place,” she said. “They all feel like friends and family.”
Slowly, all of the belongings in Ballroom Billiards are being packed up and put in storage; stickers on each table indicate that they’re up for sale.
“Everything has to go,” Williams said, something she doesn’t want to see happen. “We can’t afford that kind of rent. The public is being squeezed out as Vancouver creeps in and we lose everything to corporate. Soon, there’s not going to be much of Langley left.”
For a “born and bred” Langleyite, that image is something Williams feels need to be fought.
So, with chances looking slim that they’ll be able to negotiate rent and remain on the Langley Bypass, she is looking for somewhere else Ballroom Billiards can move to keep the place going.
“We’re just one of these little places that people go to. Where are those people going to go to now? There’s no bowling alleys left. We’re watching everything die away,” the manager said. “A lot of people knew about us and would come; I want to stay open for them.”
Williams said she open to suggestions on where to go or if anyone knows of a space; people can call 604-533-7667.
Ballroom Billiards is still open for business until Jan. 31, and everyone is invited to come down and shoot a few games while they still can.
Is there more to this story?