Last Friday night, in the midst of CMJ, cops raided the Greenpoint venue Coco66, shutting the venue down for the weekend and necessitating a hasty week’s worth of construction to get the place up to code. On Thursday, the police hit Santos Party House, using months-old drug charges to shutter the popular venue on the eve of Halloween weekend. And on Saturday night, north Brooklyn’s 171 Lombardy was hit, as cops arrived in the middle of the Pelly Twins and Todd P-presented Mischief Night concert there (featuring the Smith Westerns, Dom, and new SOTC crushes Sweet Bulbs) and broke the party up. Luckily, the show found a new home at the Silent Barn, and Dom went on there in the venue’s kitchen, circa 4 a.m.
Still, that makes three in a week–four if you count the West Village’s Love, which was reportedly shut down recently as well. Was 171 Lombardy part of a pattern of potentially Halloween-fueled, stepped up nightlife enforcement by the NYPD? Or was it an isolated incident, business as usual at a venue that is only quasi-legal to being with? Promoter Todd Patrick–one of the people behind Saturday’s show–leans toward the latter. “These three shutdowns are a suspicious coincidence,” he told us, “but I see a lot of evidence that they originated from initiatives by three very different agencies within the police, and under very different circumstances.” One man’s conjecture, but no promoter is more active in Brooklyn than Patrick is. The rest of his take:
Based on what we know about these shut downs, and how little they have in common with each other, it’s completely unlikely that the raids are related. Halloween weekend is just an active time for the police.
There is some truth that the 94th Precinct has a very no-nonsense lieutenant (Coco66 & Lombardy are both in the same precinct) but what happened last night at 171 Lombardy was very run-of-the-mill.
171 Lombardy has been shut down many times. On Saturday night at about 11pm, we caught some underage kids drinking and acting like asses and so we kicked them out. 20 minutes later there were cops at the door responding to a “911 call.” High schoolers can be foolish, what can I say?
The officers on at the door were understanding and seemed willing to let us continue, but their lieutenant heard the address over the radio and insisted on coming to the scene. He later told me he has shut the space down before and was irked to hear it was operating again. Apparently the Lombardy space has spent the last year (since I last used it) hosting big rave-style parties, getting shut down, going dark for months, then reopening. They had a huge, rowdy rave on Friday, in fact. Anyway, the local precinct police were annoyed that the space was attempting to do parties again and were determined to put a stop to it. All of this was news to me, obviously. The management had represented to me that their legal issues were behind them.
Coco66 is having a different issue. They are a big, licensed bar that has a low legal capacity (74 people). They were hit for exceeding capacity. Given the coordinated aspect of their raid (there were representatives of different city agencies there, not just the NYPD), I’d conjecture that they have an enemy (annoyed neighbor, fired employee, scorned band, 86’d patron, etc) who managed to get them on a hit list. This doesn’t necessarily spell conspiracy. Any regular New Yorker can make trouble for a space by persistently abusing 311. Anyway, those sorts of actions are typically planned in advance. The fact of the coordinated-ness of the Coco66 raid shows the initiative there did not originate with the local precinct alone, so it’s not just a determined local lieutenant at work there.
Santos was shut down using anti-drug trafficking tactics, using a court order. That’s a completely different universe of the police than the local precinct, or the sort of North Brooklyn task force that would have put together the coordinated raid that shut down Coco66.
So, it’s pretty implausible that there’s a conspiracy going on here, but all we can do is guess. What is true is that nightlife in New York City is under a lot more scrutiny than in the past.
It’s for this reason that I have already been making moves to stop using spaces that are vulnerable to these sorts of easy shut-downs. My Halloween party tonight, for instance, is at the Ridgewood Masonic Temple, which is a licensed hall with a temporary special event permit to sell alcohol. If only there were more of these places available, and if only the cost of obeying the law were not so prohibitive (and in Santos, case, ineffective – they got shutdown despite obeying every law to the letter), you would see fewer events happening in “unlicensed” venues.
DOUCHEBAGS OF THE WEEK: Lombardi was shut down by some kids we threw out for #underagedrinking who called the cops on us.
— R▲mses (@JKRAMBOJK) October 31, 2010
The evidence backs him up: Coco66, by their own admission, were dealing not just with the cops but with the New York City Department of Buildings. The summons served to Santos, meanwhile, suggests their problems were drug-related, and had been a long time coming. (Justified or not.) And this is not the first time 171 Lombardy has been shut down: as Todd implies, the venue is not entirely licensed as a concert space. Most of all: it was Halloween weekend, a notoriously rowdy couple of days that the police surely dread and do everything in their power to contain.
Whether there is something more sinister going on, well, I guess we’ll find out when Santos’ lawyers get out of court today. In the meantime, we can at least be thankful that the show went on. “I don’t know the specifics on what happened last night other than that the show was shut down due to the space ‘not having the right kinds of permits,’ which I was totally unaware of,” Patrick’s co-promoter on Satuday night’s show, Jenn Pelly, writes us. “It sucked, a lot. But it was awesome to see Dom in the kitchen of silent barn until 4 a.m. Kids were going insane for it.”