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The history of Calgary Stampede Pub Crawling

What do Burns Baseball Stadium, Eau Claire Estates, The Silver Slipper Saloon have in common? Well;

#1: they don’t exist anymore, and

#2: they were all starting points for the World Famous Bust Loose! Stampede Club Crawl!

The Bust Loose! Stampede Club Crawl has been THE Primary Event to attend during Stampede since the 90’s. It started out when Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer and Madonna were tearing up the charts! Hair was bigger (but getting smaller), and the Calgary wild west spirit was still riding high on the coat tails of the Olympics!

Cue Stampede.

With THOUSANDS of Pub Crawlers (back then we called it Pub Crawling!) the city was overtaken with rowdy party goers in a “Wild West – take no prisoners” kind of event. It’s hard to imagine that back then, tickets were manually printed, sealed in a “licked” envelope and snail-mailed out! What could go wrong there?

Registration for the insanity began at 10:00am and the Crawl started at high noon. Back then, the Crawl had an ending time, and only the toughest made it to 10pm! Of course, everyone showed up 30 minutes before the buses left, handed in their tickets and got a special high end “hand stamp” that allowed them access to the event (talk about hi-tech!). Then, the air horn sounded and everyone “Busted Loose” for the buses awaiting in the parking lots nearby. You want to see insanity?

Picture thousands of people trying to find their friends in a span of 30 minutes – and all hop on a bus together – if you were lucky!

Itinerary? We didn’t need no stinkin’ itinerary! The tour was “Top Secret” which was really a stall tactic to figure out the route once we know how many Crawlers were on each route. Back then you got on a bus with your friends (or not) and away you went! The Bust Loose! Bus Captain would read you the rules of the bus and you were off and running!

Rule #1: don’t rock the bus!

Rule #2: no body parts allowed to hang out the windows!

Rule #3: $100 vomit fee ($50 to the driver, $50 to the bus captain to clean it up). Remember: $100 was big bucks back then! Close to $200 today! (we did the math)

And those starting locations? Yup – non-existent now.

Well, Burns Stadium is still there but is now called Foothills stadium (Former home to the Calgary Cannons Baseball Team). ‘Players’ filled the field before the sound of the infamous ‘starting siren,’ and we can only wonder what the actual baseball players found on the field after we left!
Eau Claire Estates was an open field at the time with acres and acres of vacant green-space with ample parking for hundreds of buses!
If you’re old enough to remember where the Silver Slipper was, there’s a good chance your kids are Club Crawling with us today!  For those of you who don’t know, the Silver Slipper was in the basement of what now is the Marriott Hotel downtown right across from the Calgary Tower. During Stampede the hotel would set up a makeshift party zone complete with hay bales, wooden sign posts and 2 drink ticket stands!

The horns sounds…and we’re off!!!The streets were closed, police barricades were set up and intersections were blocked while the Bust Loose! Motorcade made its way through the streets of Calgary! Even our event organizers had their own police officer and squad car assigned to them!

Feeling Nostalgic? See how many of these venues you remember from our Crawls:

Fox ‘n Firkin, Banditos, Coconut Joes, Crazy Horse Saloon, The Drink, Cowboys (yup – THE Cowboys. Back then it was on 9th Ave SW which now is home to 92 floors of high end office tower space), The Back Alley, The Roadhouse, Señor Frogs, The Palace, The Santa Fe Saloon, The Golden Garter, Schanks, Outlaws, Metro, Ranchmans Downtown AND Ranchmans South….oh the memories!

We’ve come a long way since those ‘wild west days.’ The tickets are now digital and ‘your phone’ gets you in to the Crawl, departure notifications are announced over P.A. systems and via text message, the itinerary is announced ahead of schedule, and pre-purchased tokens mean you can save money at Stampede on your drinks! But the spirit still lives on, and Crawlers continuously surprise us with their antics from year to year – but that’s a story for another blog!

Ready to make history?
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