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Community rallies around East Van event after theft

'We're able to proceed, which is amazing': Dave Mackenzie Deveau

Dave Mackenzie Deveau (left), with husband Cameron, says the community responded instantly when he announced that he'd have to stop staging Shindig, the popular monthly '50s/'60s Motown party, after about $1,000 was stolen April 20. Credit: Tina Krueger Kulic

“It put the warmest smile on my face,” Dave Mackenzie Deveau says.

Mackenzie Deveau is recalling the community response after he posted the news on Facebook that almost all the proceeds from the April 20 Shindig event at The Cobalt had gone missing.

The theft of about $1,000 raised the very real possibility that staging the monthly event, billed as the “gayest 50s/60s Motown party you’ll ever see,” would no longer be feasible.

Mackenzie Deveau says the community responded instantly when he announced that he’d have to stop putting on the event.

“All the performers and my photographer and all the door people were like, ‘No, no, no, we can perform for free next month, so we can recoup the money.’ And I thought, ‘That’s really sweet.'”

Regular Shindig attendees also chimed in, offering to pay double the cover charge to help recover the funds – “all lovely suggestions,” adds a grateful Mackenzie Deveau, who says he felt “a little weird” about the idea of having the community bear the cost of the loss.

“My response to all of them was, ‘Listen, the best way to ensure the survival of this event is for all of you to come out next month and bring someone with you who’s never been to the event.’ If we double how many people come, then we would recoup that money immediately,” he says.

In the midst of the search for solutions, a friend of Deveau’s who is a supporter of his events at The Cobalt offered to invest in the event to the tune of $700.

Peter Andrachuk , a Yaletown resident, says it’s important to support and foster diverse, vibrant events like Shindig, especially in a community that’s losing venues.

“They put so much effort into creating something that is a wonderful, community-focused alternative to a lot of the traditional environments,” he says.

“When you see something like this happen – they operate on such a shoestring budget – that that theft would prevent them from being able to provide that service for the community in the future, I saw it as an opportunity to step in and help out, to ensure that they could keep doing what they’re doing,” he says.

For every person taking away from the community, there are those who want to “give back and help when things like this happen,” Andrachuk says.

>Mackenzie Deveau, who’s been running events at The Cobalt for four years, says the incident went from being a “strange occurrence” to a positive experience that is rallying the community.

“It was amazing how quickly that turnaround happened. There was probably a solution somewhere, but I just didn’t think that people were going to be that passionate about resolving it and making sure that the event would continue,” he says.

“We’re able to proceed, which is amazing.”

Shindig: Sissy Sock Hop

The Cobalt, 917 Main St

Sat, May 18, doors at 9pm

$6 before 10:30pm

thecobalt.ca