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UPDATE: Hard party: we won't return to 560


UPDATE: Hard party: we won't return to 560

Liquor board got complaint but gave club no orders
Mon, May 28, 1pm

In the midst of contention between Five Sixty managers and Hard party organizers over the policing of sexual activity in the May 20 event's play space, the liquor board says it received a complaint about the use of the word dungeon in promotions prior to the party.

Members of Vancouver Men in Leather, which co-produces the Hard party, say Five Sixty security guards were heavy-handed in the play area, shining flashlights in the eyes of men having sex and ordering them to stop. Five Sixty managers say they were only trying to adhere to liquor board regulations.

Five Sixty's executive director, Farhaan Ladhani, told Xtra he received a call from the BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch about "some promotion and advertising that they had been concerned about" regarding the Hard party.

While he won't say who made the complaint, liquor inspector Rick Brydon confirms that he contacted Ladhani to find out about the dungeon.

Brydon, who says he has no idea "what a dungeon entails," says Ladhani told him it had already been dealt with.

"He said, 'Well, it's no longer there. We're not doing it anymore,'" Brydon says, adding that Ladhani didn't go into specifics.

"He mentioned something about possibly leaving themselves open for some sort of civil litigation, and he himself came to the decision. I still have no idea what the dungeon is, other than the complaint that came to us."

Brydon, who says he spoke to Ladhani approximately a couple of weeks before the Hard party, notes that his concerns ended when Ladhani addressed them immediately. "So there's not any reason for me to push that forward."

"I certainly didn't say, 'Don't you ever do this again,'" Brydon says.

Asked if there would be a problem if there were a dungeon, Brydon reiterates that he doesn't know what that is and "what behaviours there are" in such a space. But "I have seen theme nights in lots of different bars -- absolutely harmless," he says.


Friday, May 25

Organizers and attendees of a May 20 leather party are angry about the treatment they received from security guards at Five Sixty nightclub, saying it was heavy-handed and homophobic.

Bill Coleman, president of Vancouver Men in Leather (VML), which co-produces the Hard party, says the first signs of trouble arose 30 minutes into the event when a partygoer told him security guards were policing sexual activity in the designated dungeon play space.

Coleman says he initially observed one security guard approaching guys in a non-confrontational way, asking them to stop any sexual activity. Then another guard, who said he was in charge of security, shone a flashlight in people's faces and loudly warned them not to be sexual. The same guard also ordered men to stop playing near the urinals.

Coleman emailed Five Sixty's marketing director, Jonathon Gray, the next day.

In his May 24 reply, Gray says the party "went well," though the dungeon "unfortunately" had to be shut down because it was "getting a bit risky to continue the activities as per our licensing requirements."

Coleman wrote back and complained about the guards' behaviour, saying he had expected the event to be "the same as the other three Hard Parties" held at Five Sixty.

"There was a great deal of sex before at HARD parties, it was supported and perhaps even encouraged by management," Coleman tells Gray. "You should have known that it was advertised that there would be a play space (for guys to have sex). These advertisements were widely distributed."

"If you were not going to allow sex on site we should have been told that before any plans were made to hold our event at Five Sixty," Coleman continues. "By not doing so you have damaged your reputation and our reputation."

Five Sixty was only following liquor board guidelines, Gray says.

"Unfortunately, those are the rules set out by the Vancouver liquor board," he told Xtra May 24. "We're very supportive of the community as well as the VML, but there's specific lines we have to adhere to as a venue in Vancouver, so that's kind of where our stance was on that."

Asked what specific lines the liquor board asked Five Sixty to enforce, Gray says he isn't the one who corresponded with licensing officials.

Xtra's attempts to reach the BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch were unsuccessful up to press time.

"We've never had a problem," says Priape manager Mark Janssen, who co-produces the Hard party with VML.

Janssen says he expected the same arrangements used in the last three Hard parties, including the play space, to apply on May 20.

"We received specific concerns raised by that," Gray says, without elaboration, when asked if the liquor board expressed any concern about the play space. "We have to kind of enforce that, and we were very transparent with Mark throughout the whole process."

Days before the May 20 party, Janssen says, he was told during a phone meeting with Gray and Five Sixty's executive director, Farhaan Ladhani, that police had been enquiring about the play space.

"I said, 'What are they enquiring about? This is the fourth party we're going to do,'" Janssen recalls.

Janssen wonders whether police suddenly enquired about the Hard party, or whether Five Sixty proactively called police with questions.

"When we were on the dancefloor, 30 minutes before the door opened for the event itself on Sunday, he [Ladhani] kind of indicated that he was being proactive and he called the police," Janssen alleges.

"I didn't question him on it; I just put that in my memory banks," Janssen says. "I just thought, The doors open in a few minutes; I don't have time to argue with him on that, but I just felt that very odd that he let that slip."

Ladhani told Xtra he didn't call the police but said Five Sixty had received a call from the BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch about "some promotion and advertising that they had been concerned about" regarding the Hard party.

Ladhani said he would have to speak with his staff further about the concerns raised. "Unfortunately, I'm just learning about this from you right now," he told Xtra May 24.

Xtra tried unsuccessfully to reach Ladhani again before press time but received an email from Gray.

"We were disappointed to hear the concerns voiced by the Vancouver Men in Leather Association with respect to their Hard 4 event last week," the email states. "We have been working with the Hard 4 organizers for several weeks, and in that time, we made clear to all parties that it was the venue's responsibility to act in accordance with both the City of Vancouver and the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch requirements. We informed the Hard 4 organizers that complaints had been registered with the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch regarding promotions around the Hard 4 event and were assured at that time that all of those involved would be acting in accordance with City and LCLB regulations."

"The closing of the dungeon, in cooperation with the event organizers, was our requirement to act in accordance with the regulations that govern our operations," the email adds.

The VML board says it was assured there would be no problem as long as, like at previous parties, there was no alcohol in the play space.

"We failed at providing a sex-positive party. We would like to apologize again to those who felt ashamed, harassed, and embarassed by Five Sixty security guards," the VML board says in a public letter, adding that it won't hold any more events at Five Sixty.

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Agree with you Kev. Just surprised people are still going to bathhouses too? ugh. STD city. lol
I have t agree with Paul... I am a healthy gay man, and I enjoy sex as much as the next guy... but seriously - it does not define who I am as a human being. It certainly does not define my as a gay man. I stopped going to the clubs and parties a couple of years ago because I am sick and tired of it always being just about sex. I can't even go to my gym to work out - I go there to be fit, but there just has to be SOMEONE there who is only looking for sex! Seriously there are no gay spaces left where a gay man can go anymore without being harassed by someone. Enough is enough. If you just want to get your rocks off go to a bath house and leave some spaces for those of us that actually have lives.
Seriously... just grow up...
The fact that a small minority of the gay community is all about wanton sex in public is fine, but stop making it an "anti-gay" thing when you are told it is not appropriate. Gay men have more sexual opportunity than pretty much anyone else in society. Why we INSIST on having public space available as well is simply mind numbingly stupid. People who like to get off in a public park, during the day, when there are children around... are simply sick. If a straight person did it, they would go to jail. Then there is the whole cruise the bathroom thing... I mean really? Have you actually stopped to look at public bathrooms? They are pools of filth. Come on people, since when does public sex have anything to do with EQUAL rights. I am a proud gay man, and this small segment of our population does not represent the vast majority of our community. All you do is make the whole of gay men, our whole community, look like a bunch of sexually depraved sluts who can't go more than five minutes without getting off with some stranger. I for one am tired of being painted with that brush. It is any wonder that our community is so fragmented, and why people are sick of gay spaces... because in the end... it always ends up being just about the sex.
Still blaming Vince?
Marcus, you sound like a prize. It appears Vince has been away from 560 for a while, people move on. If there is any blame, look at who and how things are being taken care of at 560 now. What's their business history and experience? Are they doing things for themselves or others? I could go on, but 560 and that crowd is really not worth the effort.
P-CAN has worked throughout the years in various venues. The problem with 560 is the ego's involved, plain and simple. Deny all you want boys. Popularity over substance and that quite frankly comes through in the music as well. Not saying P-CAN is the ultimate but if these people at 560 knew how to promote an event further than their MTV/backyard imaginations..this would all have been a non-issue, like it is in most other major North American and European cities. Pay through the ass to haul in any DJ you want into town and dream of making a producing connection. If inspections have been taking place, over and over again, it's not because of one issue alone. Quite blaming the past and look to see, and admit what might be at your front door. If the "scene" is in such a state, it's because of the same people being involved in the same events time after time. No wonder the "scene" is dying here. Monotony boys.
Suggestion from the Nudist Club
The Pacific Canadian Association of Nudists(P-CAN)have had nude and clothing optional parties for 24 years. We've had dances at Denman Station, Odyssey, Davie Village Cafe, Numbers, Club 23, The Lotus Hotel, Wise Hall and never have had a problem. Our collaborations with VML in the past have resulted in very successful parties.
You see, if you start the party naked, anything else that happens after becomes virtually unnoticed. Well, except when your trying to beat match music on the dancefloor and someone sneaks up behind you and sticks his tongue up your bum! Troy, don't you ever do that again, I cant concentrate!
Seriously, PCAN is a registered society with the government of BC. Everyone that attends our events must be a member and we get signatures to from everyone to verify they will abide by the rules of THE CLUB. Then the function becomes private and not open to the general public. I will be contacting Mr Coleman to hopefully set up another collaboration with VML at a new undisclosed location.
If there are any other groups interested in hosting fundraisers under our umbrella please email naked_info@p-can.org.
Boo F-CKING hoo!
Reading the comments from people who know nothing about the way liquor establishments have to operate in this city is frustrating and irritating. Your ignorance is astounding, as are your self entitled attitudes. Being over-sensitive is nearly as bad as homophobia. And continually crying wolf is doing nothing for our community either. I have been to the hard parties, and many 560 events, I know all the staff, the management and the owners, and Dreaddy, and how dare you shamelessly throw people under the bus, and the hard work they do, as soon as things don't go your way. Do you honestly believe yourself when you say they are only throwing these events and nights for the gay dollars? I guarantee you, the make less from gay dollars than they would from straight dollars, and 5 times the drama. I hope none of these people ever go out again, because they are the people I don't want around me in this community. I DO NOT SUPPORT these kind of attitudes and personality. Grow the f-k up, and open your eyes to whats really important facing the community. Guess what, it has nothing to do with your whiney ass not being able to have sex out in the open in f-king nightclub.
Let's put our big girl panties on...
This has certainly turned into a full scale pissing match, and I'm not talking about the kind that happened at the first Hard Party.

If VML doesn't want to host another leather event at 560, don't! But after all this drama, good luck finding a venue that will host you.

Furthermore, the argumentative and childish comments only continue to confirm my premonition that gays are just going to just cannibalize any "scene" we have left.

Why aren't we trying to find solutions to these problems, instead of arguing and calling names, posting comments that are degrading to others, or saying the Vancouver village looks like drying fruit? (Yes, I'm talking to you, Zach. If you want to know what dried fruit looks like, pull down your calvin kleins)

These reactions are petty. It's sad, to say the least.

Shame on Xtra for being the drama-mongering news source that it has been, the focus should be presenting unbiased facts, not opinions. Get it together, gays!
Apparently STRAIGHT nite Fridays are doing worse business than GAY nite Saturdays at 560. That is probably why they haven't cancelled the gay nite. Ironically the gay community, which the owner has such contempt for, are the only ones financially supporting 560. The owner holds his nose and takes the "gay dollar". Rumour has it there is a criminal investigation underway regarding the owner of 560 and that is why the authorities are vigilante at this time.
What is the Law, anyways?
So, what is the provincial law on these matters? There are licensed establishments in town that have rooms where liquor isn't allowed but sex is. I have seen liquor inspectors come into these establishments when these 'backrooms' are open and this doesn't seem to be something they have issue with, it is an issue if there is liquor found in that room. So, what is the law? Are these establishments breaking the law having these liquor-free areas on-site? As is was at FiveSixty, there was a cordoned-off play room with monitors at the entries to ensure there was no liquor in that space. I can understand there being issue with sex in the water closets or the urinal areas, but is this play room area legal or not legal?

As for the Hard Party, I was there and what upset me more was that the bar service and music stopped abruptly at 1am. WTF? If anything makes this a no-fun city, it's these archaic liquor laws...topic for another conversation I suppose.


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