Hippo Manchester
October 13, 2005

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Publisher's Note: The business of clubs
by Jody Reese

Manchester nightlife is getting a bad rap. First, Mayor Bob Baines decides it has gotten out of hand and blows the whistle to the folks over at the Union Leader. Never one to miss out on any story involving alcohol and violence (and this story has both), the UL makes it a cause. Then, after the NH Liquor Commission came in and shut down two bars that had nothing to do with the mayorís initial complaint, the story and problem seemed to die down. But, oh no, there is a triple stabbing outside Omega, a club across the street from the Verizon Wireless Area and, just last weekend, a Massachusetts man got shot outside another area club, Envy, at the corner of Elm and Bridge streets.

So is there a problem and, if so, what should be done?

Hippo sent reporters to 12 clubs and bars in Manchester a few months ago to see what was up and they found few security problems. But then again, these reporters werenít looking for trouble, nor were they engaged in any illegal activity.

The mayor called on Envy and Omega to be closed. Both clubs are owned by Massachusetts residents and both advertise heavily on Massachusetts radio, though itís unclear if they actually draw many Massachusetts customers. On one recent evening, I nosed around the parking lot behind Envy and found fewer than 12 Massachusetts plates.

What I canít argue with is that violence does seem to occur disproportionately outside Omega and Envy. Omega accounted for more than half of all downtown nightlife calls to the police last year. The mayor did see a young woman passed out or knocked out on the dance floor inside Omega and a young man throwing up outside Envy.

Clearly, Omega and Envy arenít great neighbors to the cityís nightlife,  regardless of whether they are to blame for specific acts of violence.

Like bad apples, bad clubs can spoil the fun and business for all the other nightlife establishments. We do not want to get into a situation where people are afraid to come downtown at night because a few clubs are constantly centers of violence.

So if that means that the few have to go to save the rest, and to make sure Manchester continues to have a strong and vibrant nightlife, then the few must go.

Itís really too bad it had to come to this, but Envy and Omega have only themselves to blame. Other popular clubs and bars have not had the same problems. You reap what you sow.