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Fetish cruise cancelled after police threaten to board

Vancouver police initially deny role, then confirm they called boat owner

Organizers of Vancouver’s Sept 12 Sin City fetish cruise say the event was cancelled after the provincial Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB) and the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) “took a sudden and extreme interest in this event.”

Police initially denied any involvement but later confirmed that a VPD liquor coordinator had contacted the owners of the boat rented for the cruise.

VPD spokesperson Constable Brian Montague tells Daily Xtra the liquor licence holders who own the boat were told they could be in contravention of their licence if planned activities took place on the cruise.

According to Sin City’s website, sincityfetishnight.com, the event’s dress code specified that “during boarding and while docked, attire and behaviour must be kept public beach friendly, but . . . 30 minutes into the cruise, full nude and sex play are permitted on premises.”

The dress code also stated that 30 minutes prior to docking, an announcement would be made onboard and “attire and play levels must be returned to public beach friendly levels.”

Organizers say they were unexpectedly told their event could not proceed as planned — unless they cancelled some of the fetish aspects of the event.

Even if the fetish were removed, inspectors “would still be showing up during boarding, and again at sea, to make sure we were following their requirements,” Sin City organizers say in an undated news release posted to the website.

Police and liquor board officials also threatened to pull the boat owner’s liquor license if any infractions were discovered, organizers allege.

“Though the cruise operators went to bat for us through several meetings, the LLB and VPD remained firm in their rulings,” Sin City organizers say.

“We’ve had very good relations with both the Liquor Board and the VPD for the entirety of Sin City’s 14-year run and absolutely want to avoid unnecessary friction,” organizers write. “We certainly don’t want anyone to risk their business license, and most of all, we absolutely have no interest in putting our attendees through being boarded at sea and scrutinized. So, we made the difficult decision to cancel the cruise.”

Sin City organizer Isaac Terpstra tells Daily Xtra he thinks it was the nudity that sparked concern among police.

“The cruise owners were contacted by the VPD,” he says.

But, he says, he doesn’t want conflict with the VPD over the issue.

“I’d rather win the war than this one battle,” he says. “Generally speaking, when the police show up at our events, they’re embraced. I really don’t want that to change.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Small Business, Red Tape Reduction and Responsible for Liquor, under whose jurisdiction the liquor control branch falls, tells Daily Xtra that it “was not involved in the cancellation of this event.”

“It is important to note that the LCLB has specific licencing criteria that focuses on health and safety, and does not discriminate or cancel events based on the guests’ choice of outfit,” the spokesperson says. “In fact, similar events occasionally take place in bars and clubs — as long as there are no minors present.”

VPD spokesperson Montague agreed on Sept 9 that Sin City has had a good relationship with police for the past 14 years.

“There have been all kinds of licenced fetish events in the city and some that occurred on a weekly basis at certain licenced establishments,” he told Daily Xtra.

Initially, Montague suggested that “the VPD had zero contact with Sin City for this event. It was apparently the owner/operator of the venue [the boat owners] that pulled out.”

It was only after Daily Xtra contacted the Vancouver Police Board that Montague called back and confirmed that the VPD had, in fact, contacted the boat owner.

“I believe our liquor coordinator did have contact with the owner of the boat,” he told Daily Xtra Sept 11.

“If there was no liquor licence involved it would be a non-issue,” Montague states.

He says the VPD will contact Sin City to discuss holding events on land or with no liquor licence.

Organizers say on the website they’re full steam ahead for two cruises next year.