Cabaret Playhouse targeted by arson
A former strip club and popular queer venue in Mile End was the target of an arson attempt Sunday Aug 5 with staff and customers on the premises. The entrance to the second story bar on Parc ave was damaged by fire and then by fire extinguishers; only one person suffered from smoke inhalation.
- Up Yours! The DJs are the cause, tonight at the Playhouse
- Homo rhapsody: Vincent Chevalier @ FAF
- FAGGITY ASS FRIDAYS: UNCUT March 18th at the Playhouse
CORRECTION: As repairs are still ongoing at the Playhouse, this week’s Faggity Ass Friday will exceptionally be held at the Royal Phoenix Bar on SATURDAY, Sept. 1st.
Just before 9pm last night (Aug 5), two men were seen pouring gasoline in the stairwell of the Parc avenue bar before lighting it on fire and running away down the busy Mile End thoroughfare. “There are about 25 witnesses who saw them, with two terrasses in front. Everybody saw what happened,” says Wax, an event booker and musician who will have to move three of his events from the Playhouse to other venues this week. The first floor Yuukai restaurant was also damaged, as firefighters had to cut a hole in the wall in order to ventilate the stairwell. Luckily, staff and patrons were all able to escape out the back door, and only one person is reported to have suffered from smoke inhalation.
Wax told 2B that amongst the numerous witnesses who saw the two men, one even confronted the men as they ran away, asking “what are you doing?” It is also hoped that security camera footage from the nearby SAQ may help identity the arsonists.
“Even customers in the bar saw them. A local Hassid man came by and told the police what he saw as well,” says Wax, who is very well-liked in the queer community for supporting monthly dance parties like Faggity Ass Fridays and POMPe, and previous monthlies Up Yours, which was also held at the former strip club. This is not the first time a business on this stretch of Parc avenue has been targeted: four years ago, an unidentified man threw a Molotov cocktail at the Fruiterie Mile End grocery store, Wax recalls.
So far, there is no known motive to the Playhouse attack, just as no individual or group claimed responsibility for the 2006 CORRECTION Aliments Bala bombing. The fact that the Playhouse fire was set before sundown with staff and patrons still in the bar suggests that this is not the work of organized crime such as the Hell’s Angels, Wax contends. It may bear some similarity to a previous attempted bombing at the Coop Katacombes, where similarly no motive was ever confirmed, but “neo-Nazis” were suspected.
Cabaret Playhouse on Parc avenue has for almost five years been the location of popular Head & Hands benefit dance party Faggity Ass Fridays. The smoke and water damage from last night’s arson attack will be repaired in time for the end of month event, the booker and musician assured 2B.
Banner photo via GenderFluidity