6-Apr-2007 (Fri)
Wherein we shake an angry fist at The Man.

Here's some interesting news from Washington D.C.: Nightclub Shooting May Beget Legislation. In January, there was a shooting at a D.C. nightclub. A patron pulled a gun on a security guard, and in the scuffle, a bystander was killed. This bystander was 17 years old. So a city council member has proposed legislation to solve this problem by banning minors from bars. Because apparently it's ok to be shot for no reason if you're over 21.

But wait, banning minors from bars?

That's right: in Washington D.C., bars are legally all ages. They can't serve alcohol to anyone under 21, of course, and most choose to operate as 21-and-over venues, but there's no law against minors entering any venue that sells alcohol.

This goes a long way to explain how the hardcore punk movement was able to take root in D.C.; the kids actually had venues they could go to.

This is something of a culture shock to those of us in California, since here, not only are minors not allowed in bars, but there is no such thing as an all-ages (or even 18+) concert venue that also serves alcohol. All that the law provides for here are bars (which do not admit anyone under 21+) and restaurants (which admit anyone.) That means that every time you've ever seen a band in an 18+ or all-ages venue in California, that venue has technically been a restaurant. The Warfield is a restaurant. The Cow Palace is a restaurant.

(Every time I tell someone this, they say, "Wait, The Warfield sells food?" Yes.)

More on this nonsense at DCist: Banned in D.C.: Artists Respond.

Here's a video of the city council meeting testimony rant of Ian MacKaye (of Fugazi and Minor Threat, and inventor of the term "straight edge").

If you're not familiar with Fugazi, they're well known for achieving great success while all the while refusing to play at any venue that was not all ages, or that charges more than $7 admission. They also refuse to advertise in or be interviewed by any magazine or newspaper that sells ad space to cigarette or alcohol companies.

(Though I use and endorse alcohol, I'm totally with them on the tobacco thing; this would be a non-smoking club even if smoking in clubs was legal. We have never taken money or sponsorships from cigarette companies, even though there's a lot of free money to be had from them. Because, seriously, screw those guys.)

I'm a huge admirer of Fugazi, and of how they've been able to successfully make this stand for twenty years now.

MacKaye says, "It's obvious to me that adult shows are a form of discrimination. We're not interested in playing to only one section of the human race. Everybody should be allowed to come and see us no matter how old they are, what race they are or what gender they are."


In local news, Hole In The Wall, over on 8th at Folsom, is trying to move, since their current building is falling apart. They are buying a new space nearby on Folsom, but now (wait for it...) the neighbors are complaining. I love how they characterize it using phrases like "don't want another bar in SOMA" and "this new neighborhood they decided to move into", when the bar has already been in that neighborhood for twelve years.

11 Responses:

  1. g_na says:

    I'm totally with them on the tobacco thing; this would be a non-smoking club even if smoking in clubs was legal. We have never taken money or sponsorships from cigarette companies

    And for that, we thank you. Very much.

    And thanks also for the bathrooms that actually work and have toilet paper. Whoda thunk nightclubs were capable of that?!

  2. lanikei says:

    within the last week or two they've been backing down significantly from the measures proposed in the article you linked to. that article was published almost immediately after the incident when all the city council members were suffering from a ridiculous knee-jerk reaction.
    a more recent proposal is a LOT more sensible.

    a few related things...

    dc has been having a lot of youth issues in recent years - schools suck, juvenile crime is going up, the media likes to blame kids, so the police like to enforce curfews. the real issue that i think the council members were trying to tackle in this particular mess are "go-go parties".

    i don't know how well-known go-go is outside of dc, but it IS the city's most viable music scene now. unfortunately it has a lot of stupidly violent fans who decided to settle feuds AT THE SHOWS. there are several organizations trying to keep the parties safe, and the bar the girl was shot at was NOT one that tried at all. basically, dc wants to keep the go-go fans from having gang fights at concerts. but instead they decided to blame the alcohol.

    dc still has some really great all ages venues/bars - primarily owned by the last remnants of the hardcore scenesters. places like the 930 club and the black cat (primarily rock venues) don't have anywhere near the violence problems - mostly b/c their clientele tends towards the white, wimpy, and well-behaved. but of course the dc politicians can't say "just close down the go-go nights", they have to come up with a broader rule.

    anyway... you mentioned the dc hardcore scene, ian mckaye, etc... there was a fabulous photo exhibit by susie horgan recently that is apparently going on tour. the iconic pictures of dc hardcore and straight-edgers were mostly taken in and around dc, and the book and the photos are well worth a look. you really appreciate just how young these kids were... henry rollins even had a neck back then! totally worth the money.

    sadly, i think the all ages stuff is slowly trickling away. the venue in a lot of the pictures, a basement of a church, is now a charter school. and actually, the last time i was there, a bunch of skinheads showed up and started a fight outside - so much for the white, wimpy, and well-behaved. there just aren't many spaces for little dirty punk rock shows anymore. but then, there's not much of a punk scene here to play to anyway.

  3. badmole says:

    But you ARE The Man. *shakes fist*

  4. poopsmoothie says:

    I enjoy watching Ian McKaye rant much more than Henry Rollins or Jello Biafra. Staying off the sauce apparently keeps you clearer-minded as the years pass. (Although I hear he drinks now.)

  5. ammonoid says:

    Dc has some kinda cool laws and stuff. Not only the all ages bars thing, but did you know that billboards are banned *everywhere* inside DC?

    It freaked me out when I moved out here. Billboards everywhere!

    • lanikei says:

      odd, that must have changed at some point... i can think of several billboards... they also really like the gigantic building banners. but certainly nowhere near as bad as other cities.

  6. violentbloom says:

    I used to go to this over/under club in san diego... I'm not sure exactly how this worked but they had one side that was over and accessable to only over 21 and they served booze on that side. On the other, it was all ages and no booze. The same music was on both sides, I think there might have been a window..
    It was interesting socially... cause not everyone over 21 stayed on the booze side as you might expect.