Note to protesters: Wearing phat pants with smiley faces on them is probably not the best way to get your congressman to take you seriously. And a string of very sad and worn-looking hippies holding up a huge “Stop the Drug War” banner doesn’t do much to sway the public’s opinion that dope users are anything but mopey burnouts. For these reasons, anti-drug-war protests are always dicey, and combining them with the anti-RAVE Act movement—as the Stop the RAVE Act! protest last Friday in Foley Square did—makes for near disaster.
If Congress passes the RAVE Act, club owners and promoters of any type of music could face up to $250,000 in fines and up to nine years in jail for throwing events where the authorities find evidence of drug use. (In the case of clubs, glow sticks and pacifiers would count as “drug paraphernalia.”)
Those who managed to get past appearances and the shock of kids frantically dancing to the hard techno of Adam X and Heather Heart heard serious messages from Eric Demby and Andy Gensler of Legalize Dancing NYC; Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of Drug Policy Alliance; and the New York event’s organizer, Jason Fitzsimmons, a/k/a Jason Blackkat.
Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., held simultaneous protests, attracting about 600 people each, but the New York event only drew about 200. Most of those who did show up were candy kids whose main gripe seemed to be that they won’t have a place to party anymore. Too bad about civil liberties, yo.
Things are moving slowly, but surely, in the fight to abolish the cabaret law. LDNYC is still working with City Councilman Alan Gerson and Norman Siegel, the former head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, on a bill that would deregulate dancing, thereby completely eradicating the cabaret law. Gerson, who campaigned on the issue, hopes to introduce new legislation that would update the city’s noise code in conjunction with the cabaret proposal. Apparently, the noise code hasn’t been changed since 1961, and since then, the city’s noise levels have grown, thanks to the advent of car alarms, louder motorcycles, and, yes, nightclubs. According to Dirk McCall, Gerson’s chief of staff, the legislation would set criteria for club soundproofing, since what usually drives the neighbors nuts is not just high volume, but thumping bass. The revised code would also require that venues be inspected by a certified acoustic engineer. McCall said he hopes the package will pass sometime this year, adding, “There’s interest from the mayor’s office. We think it’s going to happen.”
Eugene Hutz, best known as Gogol Bordello‘s wild and crazy frontman, has left his Saturday DJ gig at the Bulgarian bar Mehanata 416 B.C. after a three-year stint. Apparently there was a bust-up between Hutz and the club’s owners two weeks ago, fueled by alcohol and airborne furniture. Says Mr. Hutz in his thick accent: “Yeah, sheeeeet was flying.” He pauses. “Maybe the bar is too close to the DJ’ing booth.” Of the incident, which he describes as a “spontaneous provocative situation,” Hutz says, “I went Bruce Lee on the whole equipment.”
Hopefully, Mr. Hutz doesn’t have a bust-up with the peeps from the Knitting Factory before the band’s shows this Saturday and Sunday.
Apparently this penchant for self-destruction is a frequent occurrence with Mr. Hutz. “I get so trashed I ruin all my stuff. The next day I’ll be sitting in the tub with all my CDs ’cause they need to be washed,” he says. “That was my usual Sunday morning.”
He bears no ill will toward the owners of 416 B.C.: “The place had enough of me and I had enough of that place. We had enough of each other. I think the place was great. I have great memories of it. It was an alcoholic hedonistic jam. It was a really great hang for immigrant punks of all kinds,” he says. “The most important part is that we’re still friends, even though I do have a black eye.”
Never fear, fans can still catch Mr. Hutz doing drunken DJ duty every Friday night at his new spot at the Dibrova Social Club at 136 Second Avenue. Says Mr. Hutz: “Hopefully the bar will be close to the DJ booth, too!”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 17, 2002