This Tuesday, you have a real opportunity to stand up for New York
City nightlife, which has been increasingly under attack from a small
group of residents. These groups are fighting to end the city’s legacy
as a global nightlife destination, attempting to allow fewer licenses
to be issued, closing bars early, and even shutting down some venues.
The historic Roxy nightclub is attempting to reopen, and their ability
to obtain a liquor license may be blocked by Chelsea’s fringe
anti-nightlife activists. On Tuesday, you can attend Community Board
Four’s Business Licenses & Permits Meeting and ask the Board to
preserve New York’s outstanding nightlife.
Roxy could practically be designated a landmark, defined in New York
City as a structure at least thirty years old that possesses “…a
special character or special historical or aesthetic interest or value
as part of the development, heritage, or cultural characteristics of
the city, state, or nation,” according to the Landmarks Preservation
Commission. Roxy first opened in the 1970s as a roller disco, and was
known as the ‘Studio 54 of roller rinks,’ whose guest list included
the 1980 US Mens Hockey Team, which had just won an Olympic Gold Medal
for the United States. In 1982, Roxy transformed into one of the
birthplaces of hip hop, showcasing hip hop pioneers as illustrious as
Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash. My own memories are more
recent; I was a regular attendee of Roxy Saturdays, the John
Blair-sponsored gay night where icons like Madonna and Cher would
occasionally perform. Even beyond its cultural and historical
importance, though, Roxy was an absolute success story as a clubgoing
destination; it remains a beloved fixture in New York’s nightlife and
has earned the right to reopen in the neighborhood that it has
fostered for over thirty years.
Beyond The Roxy’s license problem, there is a disturbing trend first
reported last April in The New York Sun. “In most parts of Manhattan,
bar and club owners say, it has become nearly impossible to open new
nightlife establishments that are permitted to serve alcohol until 4
am.” The “City That Never Sleeps” is under attack from those residents
who move into neighborhoods that have been revitalized in large part
by their vibrant nightlife, only to attempt gut that very nightlife
and turn the neighborhoods into the equivalent of suburban bedroom
communities. Unless we act now, we could see our 4am nightspots
dwindle off. Make your voice heard Tuesday.
This is more than a lifestyle concern; nightclubs and the businesses
that serve them bring over $10 billion in economic activity to New
York City and employ over 100,000 people. On Tuesday, tell the Board
that failure to grant full liquor licenses will effect thousands of
your friends and neighbors.
The fight won’t be over Tuesday, though: please mark your calendars
for Wednesday, July 23rd, when the full board will meet to debate its
final recommendation to the State Liquor Authority. We need hundreds
of people, gay and otherwise, to come and show power in action. The
anti-nightlife frenzy of Community Board Four is destroying the
quality of life for thousands of people in our community. Let’s
exercise our democratic rights and reopen Roxy.
I hope you’ll join me at both meetings. Bring a friend. Bring five.
The future of New York City nightlife is in your hands. And hey, we
can all go out for some drinks afterwards. Hopefully we can find a
place nearby still open.
Community Board 4, Business Licenses & Permits Meeting, Tuesday, July
8th @ 6:30PM at The Westin Hotel (270 W. 43rd St.) in The Minetta
Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008, 6:30 p.m, Roosevelt Hospital, 1000 Tenth
Av. (b. 58th / 59th)