So I haven't told the whole story here, but as those of you who follow Mo and the venue on Facebook know, the Rickshaw is currently in a weird bind. My understanding is that - though people can sit or stand at Rogers Arena (or any other public gathering space) and that many places are now being allowed to sell to capacity - for reasons of considerable perversity, venues like the Rickshaw (and presumably the Commodore) are being told that they cannot have people STANDING during concerts *(unless, Mo Tarmohamed tells me, they are standing at their seats!), and that the area in front of the stage (known in the days before COVID as the "dance floor") now must have seats - seats must be provided for every patron. This, in turn, impacts the permission to sell to capacity, because "capacity" is calculated for the Rickshaw, if I understand it correctly, on the idea that some people WILL be standing; more people can stand in the dance floor area than can be accommodated with seats. This led to an Archspire album-release show (sold out, or nearly, I'd imagine) a week or so ago having to be cancelled as soon as Mo heard the "no standing" caveat.
Mo is taking compliance with the PHO very seriously - it's not the first show that has been cancelled since the Rickshaw reopened, the other being due to a band not being 100% compliant with vaccination directives (I gather that he allowed NO ROOM FOR WIGGLING AT ALL, which the band did attempt; Mo apparently is quite firm in his demands!). As you might understand - especially since all of this impacts his livelihood - he's really frustrated by this (see his interview with Mike Usinger here). And so am I! I mean:
1. I am doubly vaxxed.
2. Everyone going into the Rickshaw is doubly vaxxed.
3. I stand next to people ALL THE TIME - on packed buses, on the Skytrain, in lineup at the grocery store.
4. NO ONE IS MAKING ME GO TO GIGS. Understanding that breakout cases exist, I am nonetheless CHOOSING, as an informed adult, to return to the odd gig. As is everyone else. If I'm able to give informed consent to have some potentially-bloodclot-inducing vaccine shot into me - I am an Astra-Zeneca-receiver - I'm able to give informed consent as to whether I stand or sit.
5. If I'm GOING to go to a gig where dancing, moshing, or, god help us, STANDING are tolerated, I'm gonna want to be able to have THE FULL GIG EXPERIENCE, without having to sit with my hands in my lap, wishing I could get up. Being forced to sit during a punk show, in particular, is like being forced to lay naked on top of a naked person you find attractive, without actually having sex with them. It sabotages the fun of things. I NEVER want to be told by the Nanny state that I cannot stand in front of the stage at a punk show.
Now, in honesty, I MIGHT be okay on a "no moshing/ no stage diving" rule (there is a no stage diving rule at the Rickshaw, for example). Stage diving has never been my thing, though, and I personally don't have much use for moshing these days - too old and outta-shape! Plus I don't need ever to be kicked in the head again by a stage diver (Blag Dahlia is the worst; his feet are enormous and he launches into the pit FREQUENTLY). And I can see that being a bit of a risky thing - I mean, I can move away if someone is standing too close to comfort, but it's harder to do that if people are COLLIDING INTO EACH OTHER, right, or sailing from above ONTO you... But even still, I'm not saying we should restrict EVEN THOSE THINGS, because the energy at the front of stage is 75% of the fun of going to concerts, and tho' in fact I DO remain seated for parts of most shows I go to these days - I also like to go up front now and then. The idea of going to a punk gig in particular and having to SIT... it's ridiculous, especially in a venue that is not DESIGNED for sitting. And IF I don't feel safe in a venue where seats have not been provided, I have the OPTION to just not to go at all. I do not need my hand held! Punk shows are about creating a temporary autonomous zone where you are FREE of that!
6 Finally and most importantly, I want live music venues to flourish, and I can see Mo being on the edge of throwing up his hands and walking away in disgust. I wouldn't blame him if he did.
So... if you feel any of the above, if you ALSO want to be able to go to gigs and have fun - including gigs that are BEGGING to have more tickets released, like DOA or Unleash the Archers, which presumably will happen once Mo really IS allowed to sell to capacity again - there's a letter you can sign on social media. It is ALL DONE FOR YOU, all you have to do is click a few things and a nice polite letter will be sent to a few MLAs and such. Commence quote - the links below work, if you want to add your voice to things:
On Tuesday, Nov. 2nd the Canadian Live Music Association sent a letter to our Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry requesting regulatory fairness and the lifting of the "no standing" regulation for live music venues. With no response from Dr. Henry, the CLMA has today sent the letter to BC government officials reiterating the importance of this regulation being removed, for the following reasons:
- “mingling and standing” are currently allowed in restaurants
- fans, while ‘having a seat’ stand, sing, and dance during major sporting events or large indoor concerts
- BC will become the only province in Canada to continue to impose a “no standing” restriction on GA venues
- no scientific data has definitively indicated that standing intensifies the spread of COVID, and
- live music venues, proud front runners in adopting vaccine passport systems, require ALL patrons to be fully vaccinated.
Live music businesses were the first hit and still remain among the last back, in some cases as a result of unfair regulations applied inconsistently and that simply make no sense. Please help the BC government understand how important standing shows are to our community, how deeply committed we are to the safety of artists, workers and fans… and how essential our industry is to our future economic, social and cultural rebuild and recovery.
You can help strengthen the impact of this campaign and support your live music community by sending a letter directly to government officials using the easy letter writing tool the CLMA have created here: canadianlivemusic.ca/ftlol
All you need to do is enter your name, email address, and postal code and the tool does the rest of it for you with pre-populated letter text.
You can also help by sharing on your socials and asking your networks to do the same.