business of clubs
by Jody Reese
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
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.