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The Scandal Over a Party Where People Partied Is the Most Vancouver Controversy of All Time

Private eye footage caught people dancing and having a good time. This threatens the very fabric of what makes this community so great.
Manisha Krishnan
Toronto, CA
November 26, 2015, 6:00am

Having fun at a party is borderline illegal in Vancouver. Photo via Vancouver Art and Leisure

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada

Having grown up in Vancouver, I know its No Fun City reputation intimately. Frankly, it's well deserved. Clubs close early, you're not allowed to smoke anywhere, all the cool indie venues get shut down only to be replaced by lame glass towers. There are places where you're legally obliged to buy a burger if you want to have a drink.

So I was intrigued when I spotted a scandalous article making the rounds on social media yesterday.

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"Liquor branch looks into allegations of drug use, sex acts, overcrowding at Vancouver arts group's city-licensed party," proclaimed a headline from local daily the Province.

At the center of the controversy is the aptly-named Backdoor Halloween party thrown by the Vancouver Art and Leisure Society. The group's mandate is to "promote all realms of artistic, sexual, and political expression both personal and external" at "unconventional and unexpected places."

That's what they got "busted" doing on Halloween when a couple of private investigators, posing as guests, showed up to gather evidence of illicit activity. What they claimed to find was hundreds of people intoxicated (the venue had a 150-person capacity) and having a good time. Some of the people were allegedly smoking inside, others were apparently doing cocaine, and a handful of them were possibly hooking up. They were also being "overserved", according to the PIs, who managed to purchase a rum drink with four shots of booze in it—a brazen breach of BC's three-ounce drink limit. Shocking behavior from an event with door signage that explicitly said "sex & kink play OK" and "play safe!"

You don't have to take my word for it. The company leaked the footage to the press, with a dramatic all-caps disclaimer that states "WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT." It appears to show the backs of people dancing—by my count, at least one of them wasn't wearing a shirt.

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The Province originally protected the identity of the person who hired the investigators, but he was later revealed to be Bijan Ahmadian, the manager of a downtown gay nightclub.

"We'd heard grave concerns from some of our artists and some of our customers about safety issues," Ahmadian told CTV News. He said he got the private eyes involved to make sure people were partying "in a safe way" and not because he wanted them to be getting fucked out of their minds at his establishment instead.

Because the event took place at a city-licensed space, it's now being investigated by provincial and municipal authorities.

Matt Troy, executive director of the Vancouver Art and Leisure Society, denies his rager broke any rules. "It's sad that somebody has spent that much time and money to take me down," he told reporters.

I wouldn't worry too much, Matt. Now everyone in Vancouver who is bored out their goddamn minds (read: everyone) knows where to find drug-fueled sex parties, your next event is bound to sell out.

Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.