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Teen Dance at local bar goes off without a hitch

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
February 24th, 2012

A teen dance at the Element Night Club Sunday had many local parents concerned after a similar dance last month saw public drunkenness and drug use, but local officials who attended are saying this event was a paragon of good, clean fun.

City councillor Deb McIntosh said the event was far less-attended than its more controversial predecessor, with about 200 kids instead of around 500 … and the 200 were largely wholesome and well-behaved.

” And Florio (club manager) was everywhere,” said McIntosh in an open council meeting Monday night.

Police confirm McIntosh’s impression of a well-orchestrated evening.

“We were pleasantly surprised,” said Castlegar RCMP Sgt. Laurel Mathew. “There were no drug seizures, there were no outright trouble-makers.”

She said some kids arrived who were already under the influence (they were sent home), and six tickets were issued for minors in possession of alcohol, all of which were issued outside the venue (primarily in adjacent alleyways).

McIntosh and Mathew attended the dance as quasi-chaperones for about two hours, and reported a group of good kids having a good time.

“We had two policemen assigned specifically to the dance,” Mathew said. “It seemed like they (the teens) were all on the dance floor, pretty much all the time.”

Element manager Florio Vassilakakis said he didn’t think the reduced attendance was a result of the increased police presence, as no one really knew the plan was to have police on the premises.

“It’s just that we’ve had more teen dances than usual this year,” he said. “I was happy to work with the city and the RCMP to ensure that the event went smoothly and safely – but I don’t think anything I did changed the event or the way it went.

“The event that we did last time (that caused the controversy) was the exception,” he said. “This event, and the 18 prior to it, are more indicative of all the events we run here. We really didn’t do anything differently, except coordinate our efforts with the city and the RCMP.”

Vassilakakis said he intends to have many more such events in the future,  providing a safe and substance-free venue for local teen recreation.

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