Elly Grant
artist + administrator = curator?

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Tabu Underground Revamp Project
June 2023


Tabu / The Underground Gets a Volunteer-Led Facelift
Guelph, ON - June, 2023 

The bar below Trapper’s Alley, known as both Tabu and The Underground, recently underwent a much-needed and very exciting revamp. Led by Elly Grant and Maddy Tesolin, along with the help of Tyler Worden, the team rallied 40+ volunteers and a stack of donated materials to freshen up the space. The revamp will add Tabu / The Underground to Guelph’s roster of performance venues.


After watching her brother’s band play Tabu / The Underground earlier in April, Grant set-out to update the space as someone who is passionate about the arts and community organizing. Upon meeting Tesolin, another involved music scene go-er, Grant convinced her it was possible to take the project on as an ‘Extreme Makeover- Bar Edition’ renovation. They banded together to organize the Tabu Revamp Project for a one-week renovation. 

From June 4 - 9, 2023 volunteers dedicated their time and talents to the project. The team of artists, musicians, craftspeople, and keen supporters spent each day tackling different areas of the bar. From cleaning, to painting walls, decorating the bathroom doors, sound treatments, and lighting, the group made every effort to turn the space into something everyone could enjoy.

“The Tabu Revamp Project was a space for 30 community members, artists in one way or another, to leave their mark,” Tesolin remarked. The organizers solicited hands-on help from friends and members of Guelph’s arts scene. They also solicited in-kind donations from a number of businesses. The new interiors feature local artists’ work, from murals down to the re-upholstering of the booth seats. Thanks to long-time event organizer at Tabu Nate Ford, he brought his intimate knowledge of the space as a reminder to keep legacy pieces like the DJ booth made by Late Nites, signage, and infamous gargoyle artwork. This collaboration of so many minds was an impressive feat for six days of volunteering time, resources, and labor. 

Tabu/The Underground is owned by Partytown, who gave the organizing team permission to re-envision the space and make it more welcoming for local and visiting performers alike. The organizers wanted to create a community-feel that would invite in Guelph’s vibrant arts and music community, and respond to a growing need for more performance venues Downtown. The organizers created a design concept approved by Partytown and a strategy for organizing the project.


“There was an overwhelming amount of love and support,” says Grant, who recently returned to Guelph and is consistently in awe of Guelph’s strong sense of community. Tyler Worden, a Guelph local and volunteer for the project was “amazed by the dedication of the volunteers to revive a staple in Guelph’s music scene – hardwork, cooperation and laughter were abundant throughout the revamp week, it was really something to see.” 

Tabu / The Underground will continue to host performances and hopes to make its name known for future bookings. For bookings, please contact: theundergroundguelph@gmail.com or @guelphunderground on Instagram.


Volunteer & Artist Support

Alex M., David S., Sydney C., Heyden, Townes (art), Brad, Stefano, Heather, Madeleine, Tommy, Liam, Anthony, Jay, Nicole, Nicole’s Mom, Arthur (painting), Mary, Sandy, Geet (sign), Zoey R., Nell, Carson, Emma O., Scott M., Eve (mural), Nate, Micki, Colleen, Zack, Mark, Claire, Emil, Nathan, Toby & Simon (booth refurbish), Theo Peirson & Rachel Woodcock (collage), Emma Stewart-Small (bar refurbish), Mo (mural), Zoe D.(mural), Alexa (mural), Kat Steeves (signs), Emmi (collage + mural), Jess (photos), Jeremy G., Arthur (mural), Atelier Ferdinand (sound panel), Hilary, Andrew, Paul, James F. 

Material Donations

Alexanian Flooring, Flying Dutchman Carpets, Megan Arnold, Sara Bortolon-Vettor, Ahmri Vanderborne / Otherwise Studios, Guildcraft, Ray Mitchell, Mission Thrift, St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Store, Guelph Tool Library, Ruth Kirby, Teresa Booth, Partytown, Eric the Baker, Guelph Resource Innovation Center, Guelph Little Theatre, Amy, Bud, Luxury Pawn Shop, Cornerstone


Elly Grant, Madeline Tesolin, Tyler Worden