Nightclubs: Save Our Spaces!
Article by: Brian K. James
In 1991, I remember waiting in a line that stretched around the block, and down the street, and even from where I was standing, I could hear the "thud thud thud thud" of the sound system. It was my very first rave in Philadelphia, on Delaware Avenue in an old warehouse. Once inside, I was not ready for the amount of people I was to see. It felt like damn near everyone in the city had shown up. I was meeting a new friend from the Internet there as well, so it was quite a night of firsts. About two hours into it, and the police and fire departments showed up and asked us to leave, and that this should have never happened because there wasn't a limit on occupancy.
But for those two hours, there wasn't any race except the human race, there was no language except the language of music, the DJs dictated, and we all responded in kind by dancing. That is what I feel is sorely missing these days. That real sense of unity.
Today, it's all about money.
The clubs of today look like they came from the future, DJs are the new rockstars, and while all of this is great and grand, those of us who supported these venues are seeing our nightlife heritages being shut down completely, instead of being re-vamped and continuing the history it started.
Okay, having been going to nightclubs since I was 16, and while I know "things and times change", the landscape of clubland has changed drastically since then. Some changes are better than others.
01. Dress Codes
Let's take a look at the photo above. While there are people who like getting dressed up to head out to the club, for a sizable amount of people, this is not only too much, but it's downright uncomfortable to dance in. This is my issue. I don't mind looking nice, and I understand that the dress codes are to keep "riff-raff" out, I get it. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be ANY dress code, that's NOT what I'm saying. What I would like, is for a more relaxed dress code.
For those who went to Fluid Nightclub in Philadelphia, you know what I'm talking about. Check our media area under Fluid Nightclub, and take a look at the fifth photo. You'll see people in button up shirts, as well as t-shirts, caps, doo-rags, and more. No fights, no problems. Then again, I was on the dance floor most of the night, and having a good time.
The whole "dress to impress", or the snide version: "dress like you care", does not sit well with me. Care, huh? Okay, how's this: I cared enough about the artist you're headlining at your venue enough to purchase tickets in advance, or pay the cover at the door. THAT, alone should be all you really care about.
If you would relax the dress codes, you'd see that you would have even more people trying to show up. Why? Because you'd become known as a club that has GOOD DJ LINEUPS. When you start excluding people based on the way they dress, and state that you are trying to keep a certain "clientele", it doesn't look good for those who haven't been to your establishment yet.
Remember: "Good news travels fast, but bad news travels faster."
02. Local Talent
Giving the people what they want is paramount in this or any business, but in order to have not only your audience talk about your venue, but the local DJs too, comes from giving the little guy a break.
While there are countless new people on the horizon who are dubbing themselves DJs, there are those who are serious, and there are those for whom it's a passing phase, or hobby. But for every one or two hobbyists, there's at least 8 or so people who are quite gung-ho about making music a career by any means necessary.
If you only book headliners, the local guys may form their own little group and surprise you by how many people they can actually get, when it's good word of mouth. So much so, that you might even offer let them have "a night" at your spot, just so you can see how much of a draw they have. I have seen it first hand.
If you book local talent, they'll remember the break you gave them. This will bring new people to your venue, and people who are working hard to do what they love. If you shun the local talent, they'll remember that too, and your reputation of not giving people a break will proceed you.
Now I know I'm speaking about a "time gone by" like it was a golden age or something, but I remember clubs being filled, and people having a great time dancing rather than it being a "Hey, look at me!" I think it was something special then. I really do miss those days.