Hello Wonderful BENT folks,
Thank you for being so fabulously supportive and for being so fun to party with. BENT is a blast, but it’s also a big challenge to keep going and there have been a number of issues that have come up since the last BENT. We just wanted to put them out there. Issue #1: the costume lineup fiasco
We reached capacity very early on at the April 19th BENT. By 11:30 we were on the brink of jammed and mildly stressed about the 40+ people gathered outside. Our security person was told to let in 20 more people (to get us just exactly full) and then to hold everyone else in line. At that point a “one out, one in” system would be implemented. The security person, while ordering the collection of people outside into a line, separated out those wearing costumes so that they would get in first (the 20 mentioned earlier). A member of the collective observed this and spoke with some people outside who were upset. The security person was told to not continue this, but to just admit people in the order that they arrived. The separation only existed for about 10 minutes. Damage having already been done, we let in those that had been separated out seeing as re-incorporating them into the lineup would have likely angered a lot of folk even more. It should be said that the security person’s reasons for doing this were noble, though it was not what the collective necessarily would have chosen to do: he felt that those in costumes had spent a lot of time, money and effort to dress up and that they should get in first. This was a system used at other parties that this person had worked at.
BENT’s practice has always been first come, first served and we intend to keep it that way despite this mishap.
Yesterday we received an anonymous comment on our blog from someone very angered by the above-mentioned situation. Having posted anonymously we couldn’t respond directly to the person. Past experiences of livejournal or blog debates have taught most of us that issues do not get resolved well this way, especially when anonymity is involved. Therefore we began working on this announcement that we planned to send out after getting consensus on it at the collective meeting (which happened this evening, Wednesday). In the meantime certain members of the collective deleted the comment because they felt uncomfortable with the anonymity of the message, especially considering (what they thought was) its mean wording. Since deleting it, the person has started a blog about our censorship. Again, it is anonymous. If this person would like to contact us directly, our email is email@example.com. Issue #2: Keeping BENT safe & legal
To keep BENT going we have to keep it within the constraints of our liquor license, our rental agreement with ANZA and the capacity limits set out by the city. Lately we have had some challenges in these areas that we would like to make you all aware of.
We have hit capacity at every BENT since January 2006. At first it was only barely, but it has steadily grown and we are now hitting capacity earlier and earlier and having more and more people then have to wait outside to get in. This is a crappy situation for everyone involved. For the people in line: it sucks to have to wait. For the organizers, volunteers and security people: it is extremely stressful. This stress is only made worse by the fact that, at the last 2 parties especially, we have had a lot of people try to force themselves in. There seem to be many techniques: either by sneaking in via the washrooms, faking a hand stamp, lying about being a volunteer, pressuring the collective members personally to let them in, starting fights with the security person or just charging past the door person violently. Sneaking in only hurts the party: going over capacity would be disastrous if the police ever came by. We’d never be granted a liquor license again and the collective would likely be fined a lot of money that would most probably only trickle down to the individual members. Also having too many people in the room only makes the party uncomfortable for the guests and unmanageable for the organizers and volunteers.
We have also had a problem with people showing up to the party already intoxicated. According to our license we are not legally permitted to admit intoxicated individuals to the party. You can arrive sober and drink at the party, but people who show up wasted cannot be let in. Also, if you are drinking alcohol outside (either in the smoking area or in the lineup) you are endangering the party’s liquor license and will not be admitted or re-admitted to the party.
If the cops ever decided that they wanted to, they could come in and ask to see the i.d. of every person there. This is another challenge for us because a lot of people have come with no i.d. or non-picture i.d. and then tried to pressure the volunteers at the door to let them in anyway. This is rather unfair.
The threat of a visit by the police is not too far away either. Two months ago we had a visit from the cops near the end of the night to make sure we were respecting our capacity and within the bounds of our liquor license (which we were). Since then, we have been watched closely. At the last BENT, cops rolled by in their car at least 3 or 4 times, very slowly observing what was happening outside. We suspect that the reason they did not come in was because the outside crowd was in a calm lineup, a security person was present and visible, the door was closed and no one was drinking outside. This is a state that the security people have told us has been a struggle to maintain lately.
As a community we need to remember that BENT isn’t a business run for profit, that it’s a community party run by volunteers who are doing the best that they can and that we need everyone’s help to keep it going. Issue #3: Security
We chose security people who are queer positive and from recommendations by other people in the east van community. That doesn’t mean that sometimes fucked up shit doesn’t go down, from both sides of the playing field. We have had some difficulty with our security people and the guests (particularly around the outside door and the bathroom access points) not getting along. We deal with every conflict as it is brought to us, we discuss it with both the guest and the security people and we try to resolve things as best we can. We are required by the ANZA to have security and those people need to have the cooperation of the guests. Still we need to keep a balance in check and security people need to be made aware of our community’s own needs and issues. If you feel that you have been treated unfairly, the collective needs to hear about it directly from you in order to handle the situation. Issue #4 Being Nice
Finally, we’ve had some reports of party-goers being mean to one another. It sucks when friends tell us that their night was ruined by someone who made fun of them for what they were wearing or that someone said something mean/racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic or otherwise distressful. This is particularly hard for us to deal with because what can we do? All we can do is ask that people be aware of each other, consider other people’s feelings and boundaries and that we respect one another. BENT is all of us coming together to have fun. Don’t be mean and if you see something fucked up take place, please help out your fellow party-er or bring it to the attention of the collective/volunteers.
We thank you all for taking the time to read this.
Responses can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
See you at the next BENT!
The BENT Collective.