Vancouver DIY Music Scene Not Safe. Not for Everybody.

Vancouver DIY Music Scene Not Safe. Not for Everybody.

A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth” – Joseph Goebbels

Sigh. This is all so much bullshit. This missive grows and I suspect the trend will continue. I value my privacy but given that parts of my life are being made public, I’ve no choice but to respond in kind.

Nobody, of any age, race or gender, has ever complained about my behavior towards them. I don’t “pick up girls at gigs”. Or try. This “gently used older model” loves music and goes to listen, chat with all manner of interesting folks and have a couple of beer. It’s neurodiverse and demi. It normally only takes up with those it knows and trusts.

As I’ve grown visibly older the bigots have come out to play. I’ve learned the term “out-group bias“. Here are some negative highlights of my time out here in Vancouver:

  • Ex Girlfriend at Dance Night

Wandered into a underground dance night with a (lesbian) friend and was introduced to a young woman in the bar lineup. We discovered we had interests in common (“meet a fellow nerd” was the introduction) so spoke at a group table for a spell. A staff member then came up and asked me to leave as I had been reported “harassing patrons”. My new friend asked me to wait outside while she sorted out what had happened. Long story short: an ex girlfriend of hers did not like her “speaking to a man” and had falsely accused me of inappropriate behavior. The staff did not believe her at first, she had to get the entire table involved.

Galling thing about this one is that when I came back in, one of the staff leaned in and said “you better watch yourself”. No bias there…

  • Ex GF posting “Stalker” on Instagram

A friend sent me a link to a public Instagram post of a woman (I did not recognize) taking a selfie with me in the background, over her shoulder. In the text she stated that I was “stalking her for an ex”.
She had seen me talking to him at a venue previously and apparently decided to attack him through his friends.

The ex boyfriend referred it to the police (they had a history) and the Instagram post was deleted. But not before dozens of people had commented on the post (and photo) with terms like “ooh, creepy!”.

  • Punk Rock Wankers

Wandered in late to a gig, bought a beer, said hi to few people in the crowd as I wandered back to watch the band start. Stood with one hand in pocket and the other holding a beer.
Was suddenly asked to leave by staff because a young man reported to them I made a woman “uncomfortable”. No further details were given. The only woman I’d spoken to there was a 22-23 year old friend I’d chatted to at several events previously.

The man, when asked to locate the complainant, would/could not. He then was seen traveling between groups of woman bragging about his actions.

When contacted the venue eventually apologized for how they handled things but asked me to stay away for the time being. Apparently there had been a spate of complaints/attacks against men that eventually migrated to more serious allegations against staff. I was told some older staff stopped mixing with the crowd to avoid being targeted.
The venue slowed hosting events for a time (presumably to deal with the issues) but seemed to never quite recover and eventually folded. Sad, as it was a good space I’d seen some great bands in.

The woman I spoke to wrote a stern letter to the venue and became a friend to go gigging with. The venue staff have since reached out and invited me to other gigs on occasion.

  • Age-ism, Able-ism, Sexism and Racism in DIY

Here’s a long rant. Sorry/Not Sorry.

Had been working and volunteering at a local venue, mostly filming bands during and after the pandemic. The place was fun but with a bit of DIY edginess (not all in a good way as you will shortly read). Some of the groups they hosted were openly bigoted. Preaching hate and division based on gender and race. A couple of the staff and cronies were openly hostile to my involvement. Making drive-by snide comments to let me know such, especially on the rare occasions when I helped bar-tend busy nights. It became clear they felt my involvement was interfering with their revenue stream. One promoter even sat on the floor in front of me after a gig and started repeatedly chanting “All White Men Are Bastards”. When I objected to their behavior, the other staff stayed silent. So the following should come as no surprise to some.

Near the end of the first COVID lockdown I met a cool teacher and we exchanged numbers to text with. They were brilliant, I ended up having to look up terms they used such was their vocabulary. Came off decades older than they were. We spoke for many months on books, music and even our similar childhoods (both being semi-rural latchkey kids). We eventually started attending the occasional concerts or event. I quickly discovered this individual had impairments that occasionally needed care. Somebody to haul them somewhere safe when “shit went sideways”. They stated they enjoyed going out to events with me as I kept them safe and watched out for them. The friendship helped me greatly too, staving off the awful isolation and loneliness during the second lockdown. Even though only meeting up about once a month (on average), just texting daily was awesome.

We learned to tip off security staff upon entering a venue to help deflect some of the attention the visible portion of their disability could attract. On a small number of occasions it became too much and we had to leave. But I believe they have a right to go out and supported them, doing my best to keep all parties safe.

At one event these issues cropped up and, as we were preparing to depart, a venue staff member lured my friend to a isolated area and was abusive. Taunting them (dancing about yelling “punch me, punch me”) and worsening their state. I immediately removed us from the facility via the closest exit.

I quickly received a arrogantly worded e-mail stating that it was I who had behaved poorly and was to remove my film and other equipment immediately. This missive has now been made public. Nobody spoke to either party in arriving at this “closed door” decision, the justification for which remain unknown. I walked away without a word, all trust had been broken. Some individuals did eventually interact and learned the truth of the situation, inviting me out to other venues they help out with. I also discovered through this process that some of the closed group making this decision may haveā€¦ lied. For example, my statement “I notice a lot of young woman swiping on me on dating sites” reportedly became something akin to “He preys on young woman online”. A falsehood. Besides a few (bad) lunch dates, I only met up with those I had long known in “real” life.

This group and their clique then engaged in a “whisper campaign“, spreading false information. The “All While Men Are Bastards” crowd and their circle were central to this.

This was not the first racist incident. There had been performers ranting about “white men” on stage and even online complaints about “having to work with a white man” while filming. Despite the venue having clearly visible rules about racism, my complaints about this were met with a shrug and statements such as “people are entitled to their opinions”. Very much “Talk – Action = 0”.

The venue behaved poorly and given their nature, I’m told they should be utilizing something like a “trusted third party” process to mediate sensitive issues. Far too many out-group biases and outright bigotry exists there for them to be trusted with anybody’s personal information.

It’s been almost two years now and some individuals are still on the attack. What was an incident has turned into a “campaign”. If you happen to have been contacted (especially by any documented or electronic means) by any of these individuals I’d be interested in hearing from you at the address in the contacts section. Whisper campaigns are designed to be hard to defend against, which is why they are used for malicious purposes.

  • Closing Communication

I noticed a trend where venues and promoters encourage “anonymous complaints if anybody makes you feel uncomfortable”. This is dangerous and open to abuse. Consider that a significant percentage of the population may be considered undiagnosed sociopaths, especially in the younger set.

An example of this was a group associated with the incident above making false accusations at another venue, which then asked me to leave. That venue then closed all channels of communication, blocking social media accounts, returning mailed letters and any other communication. There was no process. Vicious gossips automatically win. That this varies based on the age and gender of the accused would be a fine guess.

Look up something like “Eleanor Williams Victim Impact” for a worst case example of false accusations, vicious gossip and the damage it can cause. Please fact check before you re-post or forward anything online. Recently a false report of an assault was circulated widely on social media. And turned out to have been entirely bogus.

  • Drink Spiking

Out with a 30+ female friend watching some bands at a pub. She put down her beer and asked me to watch it. A woman rushed over and loudly opined that it was dangerous as I might “spike her drink”. She was informed we’d been friends for many years and was trusted. The woman then aggressively responded that it did not matter, she was to “never leave a drink alone with a man”. My friend gave her a good earful and the aggressor eventually backed away.

  • Conclusion

I believe the Vancouver DIY music scene is NOT safe. Not unless everybody is. Some venues and patrons simply do not respect basic human rights. Bigots abound and are seemingly tolerated by both patrons and facility staff.