2 min

Montreal cops bust strippers

Club attracted older clientele, younger dancers

In a city known for its strippers both gay and straight, why did the Montreal police pick on the gay bar Taboo in a raid last weekend that resulted in the arrest of 34 people?

One patron, who was detained but not arrested early in the morning of May 10, says police targeted the place because it’s staffed by younger-looking men and patronized by older men.

“They’re the most vulnerable,” says the Taboo patron, who is in his 50s and didn’t want his name used for this story. “I think it was calculated to set the good gays against the bad gays…. They want to clean up the village and they don’t think dancer bars are appropriate.”

The patron estimates that about 40 officers entered the club and detained everyone for about 45 minutes. Four patrons of about 70 were arrested for allegedly committing indecent acts, while the rest were released without their names being taken. Police arrested seven staff with operating a common bawdy house and all 23 on-duty dancers with being found in a common bawdy house. Commander Yves Riopel of the city’s morality, alcohol and drug squad says some dancers will also be charged with performing indecent acts. All the patrons could have been charged with being found in a bawdy house.

“But not everybody had the knowledge of where they were,” Riopel says.

Police say the bust was initiated because of reports of underage dancers working at the Maisonneuve Blvd club. Riopel says the place was under investigation “for several months.” Police found one dancer who was 17 years old, who got the job using fake ID.

Though a 1999 Supreme Court Of Canada ruling says it’s okay to touch a dancer’s chest, butt and thighs, Riopel says oral sex and oral-anal sex is illegal and that those acts were taking place in the open areas at Taboo.

“That’s the line that was transgressed,” he says.

The patron says that most of the strippers at Taboo do not perform explicit sexual acts.

“They’re very careful about what they do. These boys don’t deserve to be treated this way. To arrest all 23 of them is unjust,” says the patron. “It’s just harmless fun. They do not like to see older men having sexual pleasure. The age factor is definitely a factor.”

Riopel says that Taboo was not singled out.

“There are other dancer clubs in Montreal where we do validate what is going on,” he says. “We haven’t found the same thing as what was happening at Taboo…. It has nothing to do with the gay community or the gay area.”