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‘Footloose’ in B.C.: Dancing ban irks live-event industry, those who want to bust a move

‘Events are getting cancelled (and) it’s too late to get events going for November, December,’ one DJ says
The band Dr. Strangelove in a promo photo. Surrey-based singer Kelly Brock, among a growing number of others, wonders why dancing to live music isn’t allowed in B.C. right now. (Photo:

B.C.’s dancing ban is a bit too “Footloose” for musicians, bar owners and event planners in the province, not to mention people who just want to dance.

The 1984 movie was about a teen who attempts to overturn a ban on dancing in an American town.

And now, late in 2021, pandemic-triggered rules continue to not allow dancing during “indoor organized gatherings” in B.C., among others restrictions for music-focused events including concerts, pub gigs and weddings.

Accordingly, there is no “dance floor” when Kelly Brock currently sings with her long-established dance band, Dr. Strangelove, at an indoor venue, and it’s become a frustrating and confusing situation for all involved.

The Surrey-based musician, among a growing number of others, wonders why dancing to live music isn’t allowed in B.C. when, for example, country musician Eric Church can play a concert for thousands of mask-less, mingling, screaming fans, as he did at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena last Friday (Oct. 29).

“I’ve had a few people reach out to me directly saying it’s ridiculous, this dance ban, and that they want to help get it reversed,” said Brock, who urged Facebook friends to write B.C.’s health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, about the issue, as a “last hope for the live event industry” in the province.

“I think Bonnie is close to opening up the dance floors again, I really do,” a hopeful Brock added. “Capacities are increasing and people can mingle again, those kinds of rules. Maybe they just need to make people wear masks while on the dance floor, that could be a solution, for now.”

(Story continues below)

B.C. has proof-of-vaccination requirements, and indoor venues are returning to full capacity.

With Dr. Strangelove, Brock performed at Woody’s Pub in Coquitlam on Halloween weekend.

“I tell people that they can at least get their arms going, seated in their chairs, moving around a bit in their own space at their table,” said Brock, also the owner-operator of VanHattan Entertainment booking agency. “But it’s kind of weird, and not the same. It’s challenging.”

In Canada, B.C. and Quebec are the only two provinces not allowing dancing right now.

“This really impacts DJs hired to make people dance, and dance bands like ours, the bands in clubs and pubs,” Brock noted. “We’ve seen videos of people dancing at banquet halls and private events, but it’s not allowed in (bars). The ban does throw a wrench in event planning, for sure.

“I go to the gym and have been doing that for over a year, so it’s OK to work up a sweat while wearing a mask,” she added. “And when you go on the dance floor, it’s usually just for two or three songs before you sit down and take a break. I think people would be happy to put on a mask and go on the dance floor.”

At a recent news conference, Henry admitted the no-dancing rule is “hardest, particularly, for nightclubs and some of the bars where this is an important part of the atmosphere.”

“We are absolutely continuing to monitor” the situation, Henry promised. “I hope to be able to take off more restrictions as we get through the next few months, but it’s going to be a challenge for all of us.”

As Christmas-related events approach, B.C.’s live-event industry hopes the dancing ban gets lifted soon – but it might be too late for many.

“Events are getting cancelled because of the no-dancing rule, and it’s too late to get events going for November and December,” said Rob Steel, who works as DJ Steel at weddings and events.

“We were excited and getting calls about doing events a couple of months ago, when things opened up again, but this dancing rule has just shut us down again. It’s the worst timing for this, absolutely the worst.”

On Brock’s Facebook post about the issue, Steel elaborated.

“Getting back to work, my arse,” he wrote. “My entire November, December, January and February events calendar have now cancelled because of this no-dancing crap, too late to salvage anything, plus they all want their deposits back.

“Thanks a lot, B.C., it’s the start of the pandemic all over again for performers, this time with zero benefits (and giving deposits back). Oh, but the Canucks game beer line-up, shoulder to shoulder indoors, is totally cool for that industry, gimme a break.”

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news for Surrey Now-Leader and Black Press Media
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