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NYC: The City That Sleeps

D-Monic

TRIBE Member
Found this post on another board... found it interesting.

It got a "Oh, those silly Americans" chuckle out of me...

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Dear friends of NYC music, culture, and hang: There is a new NYC government proposal that will very seriously effect the ability of live music venues to stay open for our entertainment. This appeared on Page Six of the New York Post:

January 30, 2004 -- BAR and nightclub owners are in an uproar over a proposal that would require a "nightlife license" to stay open after 1 a.m. City Consumer Affairs Commissioner Gretchen Dykstra is pushing a plan that would require a special two-year license for any nightspot with a capacity of 75 or more where the music would be 90 decibels or higher. A place would be padlocked for up to 10 days after three noise or other license violations.

David Rabin, president of the New York Nightlife Assn. and co-owner of Lotus, says Dykstra's plan would let the city effectively shut bars and nightclubs down at 1 a.m. "This bill will end up closing New York at 1 a.m.," Rabin warned. "It's no longer going to be the city that never sleeps. We're united on this - everyone from the little bars to the biggest nightclubs. The best-run bar in the universe could not stay open under the conditions in this proposal."

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Report from New York Nightlife Association's Townhall Meeting. Feb. 4th 2004

Notes from the Feb 4 meeting held by the NYNA in response to the new 1am proposal

The New York Nightlife Association (NYNA) held it's much anticipated Townhall Meeting on Wednesday, Feb4th, 2004. The theme of the meeting was the dreaded 1 am closing, what the proposed law will mean to New York City's nightlife industry, and how to fight it.

Speaking at the meeting was NYNA's President David Rabin, Executive Director Bob Zuckerman, Vice President in charge of Government Affairs David McWater, and Legal Council Bob Bookman.

The meeting was held at Lotus on West 14th Street in the Meatpacking District. The turnout for the meeting was enormous. Over 300 attendees representing nightlife and related industries filled the packed house to overflowing capacity. There were people in the balcony and standing room only on the main floor. I've only been a NYNA member for less than a year but this was by far the best turnout at a NYNA meeting that I have ever seen.

The first person to address the crowd was David Rabin. He said, "We are all frustrated and angry about Bloomberg & Dykstra [Gretchen Dykstra is Commissioner of the Dept. of Consumer Affairs and the author of proposed change in the Cabaret Laws) putting NYC to bed at 1am. But on the other hand it's great to see an industry united."

Rabin went on to talk about some of the people attending the meeting. There were people fromthe taxi, hotel, and music industry represented. Rabin pointed out that it will not just be the clubs and bars that will suffer from this law but a host of related industries.

Rabin welcomed some of the important people who showed up. Scott Wexler from the Empire State Restaurant Association, Kenneth Adam from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, the president of the Lesbian and Gay Nightlife Association, the president of the Karaoke Association, Ken Goldberg who is president of NY State Amusement Association, various real estate brokers, and an editor from Vanity Fair.

Rabin introduced legendary Club entrepreneur Rudolf who used to run Danceteria which was the coolest club ever. He laughed about how he used to try and get into Rudolf's clubs.

Last but not least Rabin thanked Sandee Wright and myself for all the work we do on TUFFNYC.

Then Rabin got down to business. "It's time to get riled up. the nightlife industry is a ten billion dollar per year economic engine in NYC. It produces $400 million in taxes yearly to NYC and $320 million to NY State." He compared it to the film industry which produces only $3 billion a year for the city.

"They get a commissioner, we go to jail."

Rabin went on to outline just what this proposal will mean.

"Two strikes will close you down. If a customer is found with a weapon, if there is a fist fight, if you are over capacity, get two of any combination of these violations within one year (there are a total of nine in the Dept. of Consumer Affairs (DCA) proposal), and your establishment will be padlocked for ten days. Six in two years and your license is taken away permanently "

"The law will encourage predatory club owners to start fights in venues that they want to buy. Afterall, three indictments, (mind you, not convictions where a party is actually found guilty), and you are out of business."

"Dykstra is selling it as only for bad operators. She says it's all about inside noise, it is not."

Rabin told the crowd, "We want you to be our messenger. This must be fought by all legitimate businesses in NYC. Hotels, law firms, investment bankers, not just club owners."

Bob Zuckerman then spoke briefly about NYNA's new web site www.nyna.org, and also the economic impact study that NYNA will be coming out with in the next few months.

The next person to speak was Bob Bookman, NYNA's legal council. Bob laid down all the particulars of the proposed law and cleared up any rumors.

Here's what he said:

"Three and a half months after DCA's press release and there has yet to be released, legislation for the City Council to vote on. This is unusual that there is no legislation and we are just working with a six page proposal."

Getting down to the meat and potatoes of his talk, here's what Bookman outlined as to what this law is all about.

Point 1:

It is not true that this law will mean the end of the dance police. Where it is illegal to dance now, it will still remain illegal if this new law is passed.

Dancing is regulated by zoning, building, and fire laws. The Cabaret law just makes sure that an establishment is in compliance with all these laws. The rumor was that as a result of the smoking ban the city wanted to throw the nightlife industry a bone and allow dancing. The DCA went to these other agencies and asked if they would relax their regulations. The agencies all said no.

The DCA then comes up with a law that requires new licenses and regulations.

THE NEW LAW DOESN'T ALLOW YOU TO DO ANYTHING YOU CAN'T DO NOW!

Point 2:

There are 325 licensed cabarets in NYC. With the new law the DCA says 1,000 more places will need the new nightlife license.

NYNA estimates that it will be more like 1,300 to 1,500 more places that will need to get a nightlife license.

It will mean new FEES, REGULATIONS, AND FINES.

In Bookman's words, " The City gives licenses in order to take them away or levy fines."

Anyone will need a license if they have a capacity over 75 in mixed business and residential areas like the East Village and over 200 in industrial areas like the meatpacking district and want to play music louder than 90 decibels (dbs) after 1 am.

Of course they can shut off the music after 1 am and go out of business.

"This is an inevitable 1 am closing law. The city is setting us up for failure."

Point 3:

THE NEW LAW MAKE YOU RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT GOES ON OUTSIDE OF YOUR ESTABLISHMENT. In other words, what you have no control over, you are now responsible for.

Failure to clean the streets outside your club a half hour after you close and up to 6 am and you are in violation. Three of these in one year and your padlocked for ten days. Six violations in two years and your closed for good with no chance of getting your license back.

Other businesses like grocery stores who have the same violation are not effected by this law. "This is a wholesale attack on nightlife," Bookman told the crowd.

Point 4:

INSIDE PREMISES, ABSOLUTE LIABILITY.

It doesn't matter what you do to prevent problems, it's what your customers do. Fistfights, service to minor, patron with a penknife, one decibel over the legal limit, one person more that the stated capacity, any combination of these could lead to closure. Only indictments are counted, not convictions. According to a quote from a DCA official

"the legal system takes too long."

A restaurant owner at that point said that City Hall would be in violation right now because a shooting and murder took place there.

Bookman then pointed out that he was speaking at about 90db right now to give the crowd an idea of what they would have to deal with. He went on to detail what requirements club owner would have to comply with in terms of their sound systems.

You will need to hire a certified sound engineer. They will test your space for compliance to city noise codes. No certification, no license.

It is a violation if you are certified for 90 dB and you play the music at 91 dB.

It will cost a lot of money if the engineer won't certify your place. Engineers can't certify if they can't get into the nearest residence. That means if you have a hostile neighbor and they won't let in the engineer you can't get certified.

"This turns the existing noise code on it's head," Bookman said.

Now the noise code of NYC was based on how much sound leaked out of your establishment.

If your sound system produces more than 45 dbs in your neighbor's apartment then you are in violation of the existing noise code.

The noise code, as it stands right now, is not concerned with the noise level inside your place.

The new law would require you to certify the sound level at volume you normally play. In order to check on this an inspector with a sound level meter would stand three feet from each speaker.

ONE dB OVER YOUR CERTIFICATION LEVEL AND YOU ARE IN VIOLATION.

EVEN IF THERE IS NO NOISE CODE VIOLATION.

And of course in the future, if the noise code is made stricter, which there is talk of in City Hall, then you have get certified all over again.

"The DCA will become the noise police."

I asked Bob this question: "What about places like mine (Raven) with a capacity under 75? How will this law effect me?

It is quite simple, one more person over the capacity and it's a violation. One dB over 90 and I would need to get my sound system certified. My place would be padlocked until I get certification.

Bookman added, "These will be the first places they go after."

According to Bookman the industry was never consulted on this contrary to what the DCA is telling the press. "We are not interested in negotiating around this proposal. We are opposed to a 1 am closing. It would be suicidal for the city's economy."

An alternative to this would be the Paid Detail Unit which would allow club owners to hire off duty police officers to patrol in uniform outside their establishment. Other industries are allowed to use this unit but nightlife is not. NYNA is working to change this. 90 percent of all nightlife problems happen outside in the streets. Having uniformed officers outside of clubs would do a lot to keep down the noise and violence. This legislation has been pending in the City Council for over nine months.

"Don't punish us for smoking ban noise," Bob said.

"If the noise code is not effective then deal with that. This new law will encourage unsafe, unlicensed, after hour clubs.

It will be a city full of Happy Lands."

With that Bookman ended his presentation. Then Dave McWater took the stage and had this to say:

"This code will last forever if it is passed and can be used by future administrations as a weapon against nightlife. Instead of one thing (dancing) we will have nine regulations to deal with.

We must put out the effort now to stop this."

Bob Zuckerman then took the mic and laid out how we can fight this.

In a packet distributed to all attending the meeting, their was a sample letter. (That same letter has been posted on TUFFNYC and other egroups). Bob asked all of us to fax or mail this letter, on your own letterhead, to Mayor Bloomberg, Council Speaker Gifford Miller, Chairman of the Council's Consumer Affairs Committee, Philip Reed and to your local Council Member.

Those addresses and fax numbers have also been posted to these groups.

NYNA's goal right now is not to have a public debate over this as that would rile up anti-nightlife factions. The goal is for the City Council to kill this before any hearing ever takes place.

One thing that might be in our favor is that the Chairman of The Consumer Affairs Committee, the committee that would consider this legislation, is Philip Reed. He was one of seven Council Members to vote against the smoking ban last year. So he might be friendly to our cause.

We can only hope.

NYNA is not looking for press right now, again so as not to encourage certain community groups who are unfriendly to nightlife.

Zuckerman outlined three phases of protest action.

Phase 1: Letter writing. Politicians pay most attention to snail mail, then faxes, and least attention to email. So it is important to get these letters in the mail ASAP.

Phase 2: Get every employee to write letters. Perhaps a postcard campaign.

Phase 3: Hearings. This is where we don't want to be but if it comes we will need every able body. Rallies will be held where we hope to get 5,000 and more people to come. We want our people overflowing out of Council Chambers and into the hallways. This is going to be a major battle and it will cost a lot of money. Hopefully it won't come to this.

Zuckerman ended by promising a huge grassroots efforts with NYNA's website www.nyna.org, coming this year.
 

nusty

TRIBE Member
not surprising. NYC has been punishing its legitimate night life worse and worse ever since the closing of Twilo.
I still go out when I'm there but not with the same excitment that I used to have.
 
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SelfExel

TRIBE Member
Daytime clubs would fucking rule.

I think the romans partied in the daytime.

Imagine that, go to a club at like 2, party like a demon then sleep at 11.
 

rejenerate

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by SelfExel
Daytime clubs would fucking rule.

I think the romans partied in the daytime.

Imagine that, go to a club at like 2, party like a demon then sleep at 11.
I've thought about this before...imagine if last call were at like, 11 (like British pubs, right?). Everyone goes out at 8 instead of 11 or 12, and then you can go home, get a decent night's sleep and possibly function the next day. :)

(this refers of course to drinkers only and not people who use other things.)

~jen
 

SelfExel

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by rejenerate
I've thought about this before...imagine if last call were at like, 11 (like British pubs, right?). Everyone goes out at 8 instead of 11 or 12, and then you can go home, get a decent night's sleep and possibly function the next day. :)

(this refers of course to drinkers only and not people who use other things.)

~jen
They can do drugs earlier at like noon and be fucked the whole day, ready to go the next day.

Daytime clubs, under the sun, that's where the shit is at.
 
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