Say goodbye to the cabaret law and hello to the nightlife license. That’s what a grinning Gretchen Dykstra, commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs, told a crowd of reporters at the Knitting Factory last Wednesday, where she outlined a proposal that would be submitted to the City Council this week.
Among the proposal’s new rules:
In residential areas, all establishments with a capacity higher than 75 that serve liquor and want to be open past 1 a.m. with continuous sound over 90 decibels must apply for a license. If an establishment has less than 75-person capacity, it is exempt.
In commercial or mixed-use zones, establishments with 200 or more capacity that stay open past 1 a.m. with ongoing music must get a license. Establishments with a lower capacity do not need a license to stay open.
Clubs with a 500-person capacity or more would have one state-certified security guard on hand for every 50 occupants, and club owners would be required to clean the sidewalk in front of the building within a half-hour of closing or by 6 a.m., whichever comes first.
“We do believe that this proposal is unique in the nation,” said Dykstra at the press conference.
In a bittersweet victory, under the new law Plant Bar, which was forced to remove its DJ booth and discontinue all music-related promotions, would not be required to get a nightlife license because its capacity is so small.
If the City Council gives the proposal its stamp of approval, dancing will no longer be regulated by the DCA. Instead the DCA will be concerning itself with noise, unruly crowds, and more serious matters like whether or not a murder is committed inside a club. Dykstra looked positively—no, deliriously—happy; she managed to get the dancing people off her back and come up with legislation that might actually please everyone. It’s almost too good to be true.
Indeed, Eric Demby, one of the co-founders of Legalize Dancing NYC, jokingly said to her after she told him about the proposal, “How are you tricking us?”
In the space of a year, Alan Light‘s made a baby and a magazine, so it’s no wonder he’s beaming. The former editor in chief of Spin and Vibe grinned ear to ear at the launch party for his new magazine Tracks at Lotus last Monday night. (Before you ask, no, David Rabin and I did not mud wrestle on the dancefloor). The mag, aimed at people older than 15 who are sick of reading about artists like Britney Spears whose only talent is baring their buttocks for magazine covers, debuted last week. A very wrinkles-and-all Sting graces the cover, while inside, pieces on Cassandra Wilson and Robert Plant rub elbows with My Morning Jacket and the Strokes. When I mentioned to Alan that his project didn’t take that long to come to fruition (we first talked about the prospective mag last May), he objected: “I’ve had the idea in my head forever! I can’t believe it’s a real thing you can pick up and hold.”
The party, like the magazine, wasn’t very rock ‘n’ roll (no sighting of smash-drunk middle-aged rockers, etc.), but did boast lots of moneymen in suits patrolling the grounds. If we were smart we’d have made friends with one of them to launch our own magazine, although we’re not sure what kind of rag that would be, exactly.
Totally rock ‘n’ roll—we still have a hangover—was last Thursday’s all-night bash for Patrick McMullan‘s So80’s photography book and exhibit. At the jam-packed Spike Gallery we saw ’90s club kids G-Spot and Misstress Formika who were single-handedly carrying the freak flame for the rest of us. G-Spot joked that he also looked like he was going foxhunting, with his silk scarf, jacket, and knee-high green boots. Almost, except for the gloves that spelled out fist and fuck. Larry Tee dreaded the moment when the ’90s book comes out (“Don’t want to see that one!”), and our very own Michael Musto spent time posing in front of a photo of a skinnier version of himself (“I’ve grown so much as a person!”). At the after-party at Limelight (sorry!), everyone danced to songs of their youth—Madonna, Kim Wilde, Blondie—one reveler exclaiming that it was like a high school reunion, with Richie Rich, Amanda Lepore, and James St. James serving as the homecoming royalty. Maybe for you geezers—I was still in diapers!!
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 25, 2003