When Noir Fetish Night wrapped up its five year run the past Winter, the local kink scene was suddenly a little emptier for me. It was my fetish event of choice and while we are fortunate to have many choices, the options just didn’t match the experience I was looking for and had become accustomed to at Noir.
Weeks ago, the latest entry to the thriving kink scene was announced – Cuffed Fetish. Knowing that Reive Doig, one of Noir’s producers, was involved, I reached out to learn more about this new event. Just as Reive was part of a larger team with Noir, so too is he one part of a passionate team with this new endeavour. And since I was more than a little curious about things, I thought I would reach out to Reive with questions and share the answers with our Erotic Vancouver audience.
EDITORS NOTE: Full disclosure, Reive is Managing Editor of Erotic Vancouver, in addition to being a partner in CUFFED
So what’s the deal with Cuffed? I thought you were taking a break from producing events after your sold-old finale to NOIR.
Reive: I was. I really was. But the best un-laid plans of mice and men, and all of that.
I can tell you I wasn’t thinking about throwing a regular event until Chapel [Chapel Arts] reopened. But I had volunteered to coordinate the opening night circus party for the 25th Anniversary of Rubbout. It was a real honour to be asked, and something I couldn’t turn down being a part of. In turn that one off lead to me being offer the opportunity to throw the circus party I’ve always wanted to, and so Cirque Sensuel at The Junction was born. So, great, hands unintentionally full, but I was happy.
Then the morning that it was announced that Sin City was leaving the Hindenburg I found out the news when I awoke to a phone call about it. Then I saw I had a bunch of text and Facebook messages asking me if I was thinking about doing something there.
And I realized pretty much immediately that I was. I was definitely thinking about it!
Can you tell us a bit about the production team behind Cuffed?
Well, much like a great sports team it’s made up of old veterans, and young talented players who could be the stars of the future.
Silverlodge Productions are the young guns. Mikey, Grimly, and Jarret. Earlier this year they put on Overture Fetish Odyssey, and while it was a relatively small party they had the guts to experiment and bring some new vision to the fetish night format. Some of it worked, some of it not so much, but it was ambitious to try. Overall they threw a great event that everyone enjoyed on an Easter Sunday—not an easy night to lure people out on, I can tell you.
I know Mikey well, he’s literally like a son to me. And over the past two months I’ve gotten to know Grimly and Jarret a lot better than I did, and I couldn’t be prouder to be working with them. It’s people like this, and younger folks getting involved in other projects, that are the future of kink nights here in Vancouver. Frankly, throwing a club event has become a vastly more expensive and less rewarding proposition than it was when I started throwing dungeon parties back in 2000. Which isn’t to say it was easy then. But it’s only because of that fact that promoters like me getting long in the tooth haven’t had younger folks like them snapping at our heels, and introducing new ideas, well before now. So, you know, I’m embracing them to try and stay relevant a little longer.
I hope that comes across in print as the joke I meant it to be!
The rest of us are the veterans. There’s Quake Productions, which is a company I formed with the best friend a guy could ask for, Scott. Originally we put it together just to put on Cirque, but when I had the opportunity to do this new night at the Hindenburg I knew I wanted him to be a part of it.
Finally, there’s Yvonne Tink, who is here as an individual partner, per se, rather than as part of Quake or Silverlodge. She’s like a big sister to me, and if you were at any of the NOIR Fetish Ball parties over the first four years you’d have seen her not only acting as Door Mistress extrordinaire, but also as mom to all the staff. I knew that the bigger the crew got, the more we needed her organizational skills. Although she keeps insisting that we’ve just invited her aboard to be our Token Vagina. It’s not true!
Noir brought the dungeon to the front of the stage and emphasized the importance of dress code – two things that other local events have embraced. Will Cuffed continue in the tradition of re-establishing or establishing fun new ways to put kink front and centre?
Well, first off let me say that I don’t claim that NOIR established the importance of dress code. We re-emphasized it a bit at a time when the standards were slipping. At CUFFED we plan to tackle things a little differently; we’re going to allow for a slightly looser dress code in terms of allowing sexy festival wear and the like. On the other hand we’re doing away with the Tuxedos get you in policy. So six of one, half a dozen of another, as to whether our dress code is stricter or not. Oh, but one idea I do plan to take from NOIR, and which I was surprised no other local nights did, is The Tickle Trunk, which gives people who have tried to meet dress code but fallen a little short an option other than to turn around and go home.
As for the dungeon, yes, CUFFED is certainly going to be another night that emphasizes that, with our Stage Front Dungeon.
Putting things front and centre was why I started NOIR with DJ Logik, and I was very glad when other nights followed our lead on that. I’m a life long kinkster, and one who has been out for a decade and a half. I don’t want the kink hidden in the back room, I want it in your face when you come into our space.In addition to the dungeon, however, we’re adding a Dedicated Rope Room! Four suspension points in what was formerly the club’s dungeon. One of the reasons we are glad to put that in a quieter space is that rope has really taken off, including rope suspension. Well, that’s something people really need to learn from others if they are going to do it, and the back room provides the opportunity for people to converse, teach, and learn.
Oh, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the people making our dungeon and rope room all that they are going to be. Nick Black of Black & Blue Dungeon Equipment has been providing local kink parties with his equipment, some of the top stuff in North America, for some time now, and we felt it was time to give him his due. That’s why we’re calling the play space the Black & Blue Stage Front Dungeon. Watching over the dungeon will be the Vancouver DM Team, which moderates many of the city’s party, ensuring that people play safe. Meanwhile, up in the rope room we’re lucky enough to once again have Brian, the original Rascal, running the show! Like any great night there’s a lot more people making things happen than most attendees realize.
The Vancouver kink and fetish scene has evolved quite a bit since NOIR launched in 2010. Can you reflect on what Noir brought to the scene at the time and what Cuffed will bring to the current kink landscape?
Well, I think you summed up a lot of what NOIR brought earlier. Re-emphasis on dress code is one. When we started we were legitimately able to claim our “Dress code is stricter than other nights.” Later Sin city would use those same words verbatim to describe their own dress code, and frankly by the time they did they were right. They’d adjusted to go stricter, and we’d adjusted to recognize that there were other ways to make clear you were kinky other than simply through a super strict adherence to certain fashions.
As for CUFFED, we are still figuring out some of the new things it will bring. Others we know, but are holding off announcing until we’re ready to make them happen.
What I can tell you is it’s going to have new ideas, in large part because of the youth on the team, and because of the size of it. Meetings are brainstorming sessions without us even trying for that, and for every “Shut up Reive, that’s a silly idea,” there’s someone else who comes up with something brilliant.
Except Mikey. His ideas suggest a disturbed mind deeply in need of psychiatric help.
When I read that Hindenburg was available as a venue I wrote you instantly suggesting this was your chance to produce another event at a cool location. Apparently I was not the only one doing that.
(Laughs) I’m honestly not sure how many people had reached out to me about it while I was still asleep. Five or six at least. And over the next few days and weeks a lot more would tell me I had to be doing something. Even while we were negotiating with the club I’d just tell folks I was thinking about it. If they looked at me like they knew I was doing something I’d start talking about Cirque Sensuel to try and throw them off. Those who knew me best tended to see through that, but I was playing it close to the vest. I try not to be a superstitious person, but I was really worrying about somehow jinxing it.
Club 23 / Hindenberg obviously has a history with alternative and sex positive events. It runs a little deeper than some may realize, and you were part of the history. Can you tell us about that?
Well, I think it would be more accurate to say it’s been a part of my kink history, than to say I was part of its. I came into the kink scene in 1993, at the Bettie Page Social Club. While the first events I attended were in this seedy, rundown, art gallery that I can’t say enough amazing things about, I wouldn’t get a chance to actually play in public until months later, when the night had moved to The Limelight, which of course is now The Hindenburg.
This was several years after I’d stepped through the clubs doors for the first time when it was The Cruel Elephant, for a dyke night called Talk of the Town. I’d been too young to ever go to John Barley’s, which was the destination for gay leathermen during the eighties.
Anyway, I’d gone out to Talk of the Town with a couple of friends from high school. This is 1990. One was one of my best friends, a guy who had come out as gay pretty much right after graduating. The other was our friend Heather, who had been one of only two-out lesbians in high school in Maple Ridge back in the late 80sm but who hadn’t yet ventured out to a gay club. I was tagging along, I claimed, looking for bisexual girls and not because I was looking to check out gay culture myself. Nope, I was completely closeted so far as being bisexual back then, even to myself.
So, yeah, my first public kink play, and my first forays into gay culture took place there. The place is special to me.
Later, when Sin City started, I was their first Dungeon Monitor. That’s something I take great pride in. I had some ideas for how the dungeon should be run at this new-yet-to-start-night I’d been hearing about, and I approached Isaac. I’d been running the Vancouver Dungeon parties a little less than a year then, so I arrogantly thought I should have some say on making dungeon play better. Fortunately Isaac didn’t take offense, and he put Aaron and I in touch to talk about things. That’s my one small part in the club’s history, rather than it in mine. Until now.
Oh, except I should point out that like so many other people on Vancouver’s scene I’ve had relationships and friendships that started in that club. And, of course, had it not been for 23 West and Sin City I might not now get to count Aaron Harrison, Mr. Dark, as one of my closest friends.
I’m excited for the long weekend launch party because I’ve been waiting for an event with a similar feel to NOIR. However, what might you say to those who are newer to the scene and have no idea what to expect?
Come in with an open mind. Learn the lay of the land before you jump in. All too often newcomers to these events are like a kid in a candy store, but one who didn’t have parents sensible enough to tell them not to go grabbing in the jars and stuffing candy in their mouths!
Seriously, it’s a problem. People come out to these nights and they see someone slap somebody’s ass, or they see someone grab someone and start kissing them, and then they think they can do the same to some stranger, because it hasn’t occurred to them that those other individuals obviously have some sort of established relationship and agreement.
That being said, newcomers don’t have to hug the walls. You should also talk to people and give them a chance to give you that lay of the land. We are a remarkably friendly bunch, and all-in-all in my 2 decades of working in and promoting in bars, I’ve found the fetish scene is a much safer, less judgmental, and less discomfort inducing, atmosphere than your typical sports bar or anything you’ll find on Granville Street.
Can you tell us a bit more about the music? What can we expect to get our booties shaking?
I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know music. I know what I like, but that’s not necessarily what everyone else is going to like. After the first three Vancouver Dungeon parties back in 2000 the attendees staged an intervention—if I played Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain or The Conan Soundtrack one more time there was going to be some non-consensual pain infliction happening!
First up for CUFFED we divided up responsibility for picking DJs. Silverlodge Productions controls the downstairs, and Quake Productions controls the main room. What we’ve done is decide on some aesthetics, and then hire some great DJs we think can deliver it.
Downstairs expect some of the darker music that has long characterized the fetish scene in this town. Goth, industrial, and more.
In the main room we’re going for some of the vibe you might have experienced at NOIR on The Rectory dance floor at Chapel Arts, rather than the main room sound we had there. Electronica, vocal house, and perhaps if the DJs aren’t sensible enough to disregard my input, a bunch of disco!
Okay, probably not so much disco!
Our first night’s line-up downstairs is Unicode, who was a resident at NOIR and played upstairs or down depending on the night, and Sparklebat, who has been a major force on the city’s goth scene—and not just behind the decks either—for several years now. Thank Silverlodge for bringing this crew they first used at Overture aboard.
In the main room I’m super excited that, for the first time, I got to be the person reaching out to DJs I love and respect, after getting confirmation from others that they felt the same. We’ve got DJ Del Stamp who I’ve been wanting to work with for ages, and who is also the resident at Cirque Sensuel. Burner legend Tango will be joining him, and after working with him so often in the smaller room at NOIR, I’m excited to be able to offer him the big room.
Starting off the night in the main room is Unicode, because I was damned if I was letting the kids keep him to themselves, not after I’d spent five years working with him!
Anything else we should know about Cuffed?
Just that it’s a labour of love on the part of everyone involved. I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to have this many people come in, share their vision, and then let the rest of us hammer at it with our own tools, until we’ve created something that we can all agree upon.
Oh, and that starting in July it moves to it’s regular night the first Saturday of every month. I should probably mention that.
Before we go, is there anything else you are working on that you can tell us about?
Not really. In that I’ve got a bunch of ideas floating around in my head, and occasionally I give them voice, and someone with the actual skill to accomplish what I’d like steps into help. I’m an ideas guy. Other times I get the opportunity to be a part of someone else’s project—I never really know what might be next.
Although the thing I’m probably most excited for, other than CUFFED and Cirque, is something that’s not my project at all. Just the other day I had lunch with an amazing woman who pitched me an idea, and asked for any suggestions I could make. The first suggestion I had was perhaps the most important one anyone can offer someone else in that position if they can, “I know who you need to work with. Let me make the introduction.”
Now not one but two amazing women I know might be putting their heads together, and hopefully down the road people will be reading about their project here on Erotic Vancouver.
Thanks so much for your time, Reive. I’ll see you on the 22nd for the launch party! I wish it the best of success!