Not just moshing: City cracks down on couch dancing

For the second time this spring, Bijou Nightclub on Stuart Street found itself before city Licensing Director Patricia Malone to explain why police found people perched on top of couches near the club dance floor.

To be sure, this time police detectives found only three people upright on couches - although an alleged wiseass jumped up on a couch when police ordered the initial three down - and the club said they were only standing there, unlike an earlier incident involving close to 50 people actively gyrating on the tops of couches, Malone heard at a hearing this morning.

But a grim Malone told club officials and its lawyer they're skating on thin ice. She said she's getting tired of patrons disrespecing the police and asked a club manager why she shouldn't take the latest incident, around 1:05 a.m. on May 6, as an act of "defiance" over the earlier hearing. Both Malone and the two police detectives at the hearing said public safety really means keeping possibly soused people off high spots like the backs of couches.

Both a club manager and attorney Karen Simao declared their contriteness. The club has since hired three bouncers just to keep people off couches and the club shouldn't be penalized for the actions of some ignorant patrons, they said, adding the guy who jumped on the couch after police arrived was promptly escorted out.

They added patrons are now informed of the no-couch-dancing rules as they are walked to their tables and that the club DJ, who has a bird's eye view of the dance floor, has a direct line to security to alert them of any potential couch dancers. The manager said he's so eager to keep people off the tops of couches now that he finds himself going up to tall people to make sure they're just tall and not parading around on couches.

Simao said keeping people off the backs of couches will, unfortunately, take some time, and is similar to ongoing efforts to keep people from smoking inside clubs - some people just refuse to hear the message until its repeatedly hammered into them.

Separately, the Bar Rooom on Broad Street also had to explain itself today - a police detective found ten or so people dancing on the second floor, in violation of its license, which clearly prohibits dancing. A bar manager apologized, said the staff who allowed the people to get footloose were reprimanded and that he's put up signs all around the place that clearly state "No Dancing."

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Comments

Beating a dead horse

A bar manager apologized, said the staff who allowed the people to get footloose were reprimanded and that he's put up signs all around the place that clearly state "No Dancing."

I understand WHY certain licenses don't allow dancing. But reading sentences like that just makes me feel sad for Boston.

Obviously, the way to solve

Obviously, the way to solve this problem is to require all clubs to be baby-proofed. No furniture or ledges to stand on, no electrical outlets, safety latches on all cabinets.

God forbid anyone have any...you know...fun.

Absurd

They got a citation?

Aren't the police just a little bit embarrassed when they enforce a rule like this?

The silliness of this regulation is just going to give people the idea to hop on any seating arrangement at a club just to have a little fun.

Embarrassed police?

Many of them became cops in the first place because people picked on them and embarrassed them when they were kids. Note the large number of gay state troopers. Victim of gay bashing as a kid = pissed-off adult with authority with a hair-trigger temper.

Not only are they not embarrassed to enforce this rule, I guarantee you the cops involved here got hard upon encountering a scenario in which they could assert their authority without dealing with a gun, knife, or crackhead.

Just add alcohol

I think the issue is drunk people standing on the back of a couch are likely to fall over and smack their head or bust a wrist, etc. If I read it right, the police told people to everyone to get down and then one asshat jumped up on the newly vacant spot. He's the one who got in trouble with the cops. Plus the establishment.

Yes, people are being shot in Dot (and stabbed in Southie)

But a big city with a decentish municipal treasury can devote resources to more than one thing at a time.

That BPD has two detectives dedicated to ensuring we don't have another repeat of Coconut Grove or trying to limit the damage inebriates do to themselves or others doesn't mean police are missing vital clues to solving crimes of violence. If BPD responded to every couch-surfing incident with a massive show of force (bringing in officers from other districts, say), you might have a case. But right now, that's limited to situations that really demand it - like, say, multiple people getting stabbed or shot at closing time.

Brings up a qustion

How many clubs, let alone establishments are not up to fire code in this city Adam? Why are they going after low hanging fruit and enforcing "No Dancing" rules rather than inspections of sprinkler systems, fire exits, the things that matter?

Haven't heard anything in a while, but last I remembers there were some mentions in the news that quite a few places in Boston we not up to the new codes. Dates being pushed back, ect.

My biggest problem is give people low hanging fruit issue to go after, and they'll take that least path of resistance over the harder stuff. It's just human nature.

If we want to make sure Coconut Grove doesn't happen again, the last thing on the list would be scolding establishments for dancing w/o a license.

Good question

I have no clue.

But just because I don't write about them doesn't mean places aren't getting written up. BFD does inspections and BPD looks for things besides nefarious dancers on their inspections. But BFD (and, I assume ISD) inspections don't tend to wind up before the licensing boards. It's probably one of those quirks of Massachusetts law that results in police citations forcing bar owners before the boards, but BFD and ISD inspections forcing them to explain themselves before inspectors, who don't hold public hearings.

The Boston Licensing Board does take fire-related infractions that come up before it (such as blocked exits) pretty seriously - those seem more likely to result in license suspensions than, say, musicians smoking backstage.

Patricia Malone Needs to Stand Down

So long as Patricia Malone continues to run on her power trip, the city of Boston will never attract any young innovation companies or start-ups. That or Menino needs to make the Entertainment Licensing Board an actual "Board" and not one person.