An Alameda Halloween techno dance cruise promoter claims they were unaware of the 2016 tragedy that took 36 lives, and initially refused to change the event’s name, but eventually budged after a torrent of outrage.
This December will be the five-year anniversary of Oakland’s 2016 Ghost Ship warehouse fire, which claimed the lives of 36 victims (meet them here, here, and here), and the infuriating verdict for the two defendants deemed responsible for the fire prolonged the grief for victims’ families and loved ones. With the coming anniversary, we can expect to see many homages, remembrances, and vigils. We did not expect see another East Bay party promoter say “Fuck it, that name’s available, let’s call our party Ghost Ship.”
Uhhhhhhhh who’s going to tell them pic.twitter.com/nCPoZQp7Aj— Susie Cagle (@susie_c) October 13, 2021
Yet this is precisely what happened, as KQED reports that a Halloween weekend “haunted cruise” concept did decide to call their Oct. 29 event “Ghost Ship.” The fancy rave boat cruise, with $700 VIP tables and $450 Hennessy service, then worked through the four stages of having an excruciatingly offensive party name: 1) claim no one has ever heard of the tragedy 2) insist that it's too late and change the name 3) deflecting and saying they're actually doing an homage, and 4) breaking down and changing the name, and saying please buy a ticket for a $700 VIP table and $450 Hennessy service.
The Instagram post from above is from August, and seems to have many comments deleted (asks one commenter, “Why are u deleting every single comment from real Bay Area community members expressing concern for the theme of this rave?"). Party organizers Disco Lab Events told KQED in an email, “We, like many bay area natives, were un aware [sic] of this tragic event.” Which... seriously???
KQED reports that as of Wednesday, party organizers were holding the line, and posted a now-deleted Instagram post saying, “We want to take a moment to honor the lost friends and family with a moment of silence, announcement, and memorial wall on the ship. With 16 days left before the event, the community wants us to change the name instead of making these people known to a group of people that has no idea of the fire.”
These people at Disco Lab Events did eventually come to their senses Thursday, as seen in the Instagram post above. The event is now called Hallowship, and the previous event website is scrubbed. Their contact info is still listed as [email protected], but hey, they’ve changed the most public-facing aspects and branding, so it’s been a productive 24 hours since their about-face.
This isn’t the first other party to use the name “Ghost Ship.” There was a vintage 2008 annual Halloween party called Ghost Ship, which started on Treasure Island and then moved to Pier 70, and used the name “Ghost Ship” well before the 2016 tragedy. You had to feel bad for them and the association they encountered, and they wisely changed their name to LoveBoat Halloween in 2017.
Well, you had to feel bad for them (past tense). That party changed its name back to “Ghost Ship” the following year, issuing the terrible rationale that “After deep and thoughtful consideration, we chose to return to our original name, which we’ve had since 2008. We did so to accentuate the positive, to honor all the good that our event and our community has done, and to embolden the words GHOST SHIP to not represent tragedy, but rather art, music, community, and celebration.”
That event at SVN West was cancelled, after — you guessed it — negative backlash from the community.
Related: Authors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman Back Away From Ghost Ship Fire TV Project Amid Backlash [SFist]
Image: Disco Lab Events