By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Apparently, New York nightlife needs a babysitter, and city politicians and police think they're up for the job. But I think they should all be fired.
These nightlife sitters want promoters to be licensed; they want to arrest kids who are using fake IDs.; they want the cabaret law (prohibiting dancing without a license) to remain intact; they want you to submit to mandatory video surveillance the entire time you are at a club; they want to ban bottle service (a dreamy idea, but they're doing it for the wrong reasons); they want clubs to be only in certain neighborhoods, though of course they always seem to change their minds and push the clubs out; and they want you to be quiet. But mostly, it seems they just don't want any nightlife to exist at all.
Note to cops, politicians, and everyone else who hates nightlife and thinks they're doing us a favor: You're fired. I don't need a babysitter. None of us do. I am tired of this War on Fun, this puritanical prohibition running rampant against New York nightlife. Earlier this month, Crobar (soon to be called Studio) and Sol were shut down over allegations of drugs and violence, but in the face of this allegedly awful situation, they were allowed to more or less immediately reopenno doubt to be shut down again, under the guise of being unsafe. My gut feeling that most of these busts are just publicity ploys is borne out by the press conference the NYPD held as the clubs were being closedwith two tipped-off reporters from the Daily News and the Post standing in front of Sol, news cameras at the ready, NYPD press releases in hand. One eyewitness told me of seeing a news cameraman get out of a police car. You don't get advance noticeand hold a press conferenceif a club is truly unsafe. I wonder why we've never heard of Club Phenomenon, a club whose liquor license was suspended in December for a fatal shooting, drug sales, and prostitution. Maybe because it was so dangerous the cops shut it down without stopping to brag about it.
Then there's City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's proposal to have promoters get licensednext thing you know, DJs will need a license, and we'll be getting fingerprinted on our way in the door. (That's not as far-fetched a possibility as you think.) In terms of cosmetic, futile gestures, this over-the-top demand is right up there with her other proposals: ID scanners (that don't catch good fakes) and surveillance cameras (a violation of your privacy that nonetheless is already used in most clubs anyway). Then there's the Bloomberg administration's freshly minted "Two Strikes and You're Out" proposal, which would shut a club down after two "serious" violationsmurder and felony assault on the one hand, but much vaguer provisions of the state liquor law on the other.
Consider also City Councilwoman Melinda Katz's absurd proposal to ban bottle service and require waitresses to personally pour drinks for the stupid people who can't seem to do it properly themselvesa weak attempt to foil binge drinkers who avoid the all-seeing eyes of bartenders. I might think bottle service is stupid, but it's a free market. Next thing you know, the government will be demanding that we all wear bibs and sequined diapers and be spoon-fed by our mommy at dinner.
By the way, did you know that 106 kids have been arrested for using fake IDs since August? While it's fine to hold the kids, and not just the clubs, responsible for underage drinking, isn't a stay in jail a little too harsh?
I go out five, six, sometimes seven nights a week. I go to the wildest places in the city. I go out alone. I am often wasted. I come home at four or five in the morning. I have been clubbing since I was 19 (yes, I drank illegally). And I am alive. I am well. There are millions of others just like me. We are the rule, not the exceptions to the rule.
High-profile 2006 murder victims Imette St. Guillen, Antonios Sasarakis, and Gustavo Cuadros were all killed by bouncers. Their deaths could have been prevented by the clubs themselves, by not hiring bouncers with criminal recordsa situation that is now being addressed thanks to Quinn's legislation. But this shouldn't be used as an excuse to punish all of clubland. Other deaths have been unfairly attributed to the clubs themselves, most notably the July case of 19-year-old Jennifer Moore, who is being used as the Patron Saint of Underage Drinking Legislation when she should be used as the Patron Saint of Changing the Drinking Law. If Moore had been drinking legally that night, she might not have wandered off while her friend was being taken to the hospital, which she presumably did because she was afraid of being caught. Guest House, where she'd partied much earlier that night, is still being blamed for her murder, even though she wasn't murdered there, wasn't murdered by anyone she met there, and was actually murdered in another state many hours after leaving the club, even after she came in contact with policewho could have helped her and didn't. Repeat after me: Guest House did not murder Jennifer Moore.