Although I was too young to remember the incident myself, I’ve heard the Queen City Kids story many times over the years. Do you remember what I’m talking about? Well, if you don’t, here’s the gist.
Mennonites have always been a little slow to adapt to new things… like say rock and roll music. So, in 1982, when students at the high school in Steinbach hired Queen City Kids to play during the lunch hour at school, it created quite the controversy!
Queen City Kids were a fairly popular band at the time. They were originally from Regina (as the name suggests), but were based out of Winnipeg. You may remember them from their hit “Dance.” The students were really excited for the concert, and hundreds of tickets were sold, and the band had been paid a deposit of $1500.
Well, if you know about Steinbach in the early ’80s, you can probably imagine what happened next. (This was the era Miriam Toews depicts in A Complicated Kindness.) Yup, the school board cancelled the concert just days before they were scheduled to perform.
I’m not sure what all went into their decision, but I suspect the fact that there was a school board election the next week may have had something to do with it. It probably didn’t help matters that the QCK album cover featured a woman in Saran-Wrap. (What a waste of plastic! Ha.)
But the story doesn’t end there. After the cancellation, hundreds of students staged a protest! They walked out of class, held signs in front of the school division office, and walked up and down Main Street. These signs said sweet things like, “Help! I’m a faceless victim of the Hanover School Board” and, “Rockers have rights, too!” It’s nice to see that the spirt of protest was alive and well in Steinbach, even back then. I suppose most of these folks are now well into their 50s and are fine upstanding members of the community.
Based on the Letters to the Editor of The Carillon, it seems this controversy raged for weeks, if not months, after the cancellation. I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a few residents come to defence of the students.
The story even made news in Winnipeg! At the end of the year, Gordon Sinclair Jr. of the Winnipeg Free Press mentioned the concert cancellation among his top ten “Dubious Achievement Awards”. Steinbach made the list twice that year. The other Steinbach establishment to make the list was the local movie theatre for censoring the title of the Dolly Parton/Burt Reynolds hit film of the year. Their title? Best Little House in Texas.
Hey, so if Queen City Kids are still around, can we invite them to Summer in the City one year? I know I’ll be there… but not in Saran-Wrap.