18-plus crowd dances around city club ban
Also See: Under 21 Banned in Boston More Info....
Eighth in an ongoing series on B-side Boston
Though Mayor Thomas Menino passed a citywide ordinance last January confining nightclubs to the over-21 set, crestfallen club crawlers who sullenly stashed their silk shirts, hair gel and little black dresses into the back of their closets can sweep off the dust:
Some Hub venues
are still open to feed the younger
crowd's dance addiction.
After this week's closing of Avalon,
formerly the greatest ally of the
under-21 crowd, club owners around
the city say many alternative doors
are still open for those who cannot
Those looking for Latin flavor can hit Havana Saturdays, an 18-and-older salsa dance venue that reopened its doors this weekend at Villa Victoria's Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center on West Newton Street. When it comes to dancing, age knows no bounds, president and founder of Havana Saturdays Jeff Robinson said.
"Lots of people love to dance and love to dance salsa," Robinson said. "It's pretty popular with everybody -- college students, grad students and people who are 75."
The discotheque has operated for four years, still sidestepping the city's ban and welcoming 18-year-olds with open arms and open dance floors, Robinson said.
"We're not really a club," he said. "We're a little dance party at a cultural center. It's a cultural event."
College of Arts and Sciences freshman Sam Kelly, who attended the opening, said he immediately took a liking to the club.
"It seemed like the owners were really excited and they really hope it catches on," Kelly said. "There were some college kids like us and then some who are really into salsa dancing."
Although it admits a younger crowd, Havana Saturdays serves alcohol to patrons of legal drinking age. Kelly said dancers must present IDs before entering, and those of age are given wristbands.
With no alcohol flowing from taps, Club RISE offers another dance floor to the under-21 crowd.
"As far as we know the mayor is still making most dance clubs 21-plus," said RISE owner Tom Beaulieu. "This doesn't affect us because we don't serve alcohol.
RISE is and always has been an 18-plus club."
RISE, which hosts
dancers on Fridays, Saturdays and
holiday Sundays from 1:30 to 6:30
a.m., attracts major international
DJs such as Gabriel & Dresden, Danny
Tenaglia and Mark Ferina, he said .
"We hire global, really good DJs," Beaulieu said. "DJs like the experience -- the small room and intimate setting. It's a lot more fun for them. The only club that really compares with us is Avalon, and they closed."
Though the club has managed to keep its head above water, Beaulieu said the ban hurt the club since it was enacted January.
"We do well when other clubs do well," he said. "It hurt us a little bit when the younger generation was kept out of the clubs. Less people came out."
Some club owners say Menino's ordinance has been confusing, and, even nine months later, they are unsure how they can legally operate.
"Honestly we can't comment at this time . . . because the city is being really weird," said Andrew Riker, owner of Paper, an under-21 Thursday night club located at different venues each week. "We would love to self-promote our night, but we are kind of walking a fine line with the city . . . and we don't want to ruin it."