By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
You'd think, when reading these hyperventilating reports in the media that parrot the politicians and police, that these clubs are craven, scary hellholes with girls on roofies getting raped en masse in bathrooms, Scarface piles of cocaine being snorted off every surface, and 16-year-old girls standing on the bar sucking beer bongs. You'd be wrong. Those would be frat parties, or Paris Hilton's hotel room. At licensed clubs run by responsible owners, you get kicked out for doing drugs, your fake ID is taken from you if you try to use it, and you get denied at the bar if you are deemed too drunk. In fact, there are thousands and thousands of these responsible clubs, run by thousands of responsible club owners. How come you never hear about any of them?
The New York Timesrecently ran an excellent story about Heathers, a joint on East 13th Streetspecifically, the owner's ongoing battle with upstairs neighbors and the community board. Residents, so infuriated by the bar's existence, bought an expensive noise meter and obsessively monitor the placethey've called 311 more than 50 times. It's an explicit abuse of the system, and it's unfair to the honest bar owner who appears to be doing everything the neighbors ask, like installing soundproofing materials. She's done everything except disappear.
New York City is a living, breathing, messy organism that is constantly changing. No manner of legislation or prohibitionwhich pushes things underground and makes them more unsafecan change that. You can't protect people from themselves. Nightlife is, in essence, hedonistic. It is not supposed to be church.
Christine Quinn told me back in the fallwhen she was promoting her Nightlife Summit and proposing her useful (but woefully deficient) legislation regarding bouncer licensesthat she'd never even beento the West 27th Street strip. This was when the klieg lights and giant electronic billboards had first appeared on the block to make us feel safer. I bet Mayor Bloomberg has never been to any of the East Village bars that are being harassed out of existence by the "dance police" either.
So, I invite them both: Speaker Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg, I'll take you on a tour of New York nightlife. We'll go to Crobar, Sol, and Guest House, the place forever tied to Jennifer Moore's murder. And while we're at it, I'll take you to Black and White, a neighborhood bar written up recently for violating the most asinine of all your nightlife lawsthe cabaret law. Because it's obvious that while you've both been having a good time standing on your untouchable soapboxes, neither one of you seems to know a thing about the industry you are affecting. Come and see for yourself.