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Latin Music on Queen falls victim to COVID protocols

The event drew people out to the closed off part of Queen Street in the Hespeler area
About 25 people, with some coming and going, are pictured dancing on a weekend to Latin music on Queen Street.

Pandemic protocols burst the bubble of the Latin Music on Queen event that was recently shut down by the city.

Cambridge resident Kira Wilkinson, who had started it in July after the region moved into step three of reopening, said the city brought down the hammer after a member of the public complained about the lack of social distancing protocols at the weekend event.  

The city, she said, informed her that dancing wasn't allowed under the special events permit the Hespeler BIA (business improvement area) group obtained for her. 

"As far as I'm concerned, I am only playing music," Wilkinson said. "I'm not allowing or disallowing them to interpret the music. Some people are dancing and some are just sitting at the picnic tables and enjoying it. I'm not bringing in instructors or asking dancers to come by. Everything that's happening is happening spontaneously." 

She said city staff told her to continue the event under the current permit, she would have to put up "no dancing" sign and someone from the BIA would have to be present on Queen Street every Saturday.

"We were almost rounding up the conversation when the city said that the social media shouldn't indicate any dancing," Wilkison said. "They wanted me to remove all images of dancing from my social media, which I refused to do. 

"I wasn't willing to compromise the effort and money I'd put into advertising it on social media," she added. 

Wilkinson said the city wasn't happy about that.

Allison Jones, supervisor of communications with the city, confirmed via email that the event was cancelled by the BIA, which in turn advised the city to withdraw the permit because of non-compliance by attendees.

She wrote in an email, "City staff will be following up with event organizers to let them know if they would like to run this event in the future, the city can assist them with navigating and understanding the Public Health guidelines that must be in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the community."

The event that started with a few people walking over to the east side of the street closure and sitting on the picnic tables nearby, she said. Then some people decided they were going to enjoy the music by dancing to it, Wilkinson said. At it's peak, she noted, there may be have been some 25 to 30 people out on the street enjoying themselves by dancing to the music. The feedback, she received, she said was all encouraging. 

"Everybody is saying it's nice to see people out and about and if they're comfortable enough to get up and dance, they do that," Wilkinson said. "If they don't, then they don't. 

"At this point, I think everybody attending is more than away what risks they're taking," she added. "And everybody can decide how they want to participate."  

Wilkinson said she'd even started involving nearby businesses by asking them to donate gift cards that she gave away through raffle.

She went ahead and held the last Latin music night on Aug. 28, without a sign or asking people to socially distance. That's when the city pulled the plug.

"I'm really annoyed about it," she said, talking about the cancellation and the lack of an alternative offered by the city. "I'm disappointed but I had anticipated this would be an issue. We'd been doing this for a month so I thought we would be in the clear."