Two guys showed up in an ER with stab wounds, but were they punctured in a Theater District club?

The Boston Licensing Board on Thursday considers two wildly different accounts of how two patrons of Bijou, 51 Stuart St., wound up in the Boston Medical Center emergency room with stab wounds on Dec. 5.

But even if the board accepts Bijou's argument the men were stabbed a block away, at Washington and Stuart Street in a fight that had nothing to do with the nightclub, it could still face trouble for not calling police after a fight inside that the club's own surveillance video showed involved men getting punched to the floor.

At a hearing this morning, the board heard a police detective testify that the two men were stabbed - one in the chest, one in the back - after some sort of argument inside the club around 12:30 a.m., but that they did not realize it at first because they were stabbed at the same time they were also punched - one victim told a detective he felt himself start to fall unconscious. Neither man's injuries proved life threatening, police said.

As the board, detectives, club managers and bouncers and the club attorney watched club video of the incident, the detective said he could see what appeared to be a knife in one attacker's hand.

But club attorney Karen Simao said that while detectives are trained observers, she respectfully disagreed that was what was happening in the video of the darkened room, that the two men were not stabbed inside the club and that they were, in fact, stabbed at Washington and Stuart - possibly in a fight not even involving the guys from the club.

Simao based this in part on a statement by the livery driver who took the men to the emergency room and who said he offered them a ride from there after spotting one of the two lying on the ground. She added that there is no way somebody could have gotten a knife into Bijou - the club not only uses a metal-detecting wand but pats down incoming customers. And she said the video showed the two alleged victims were, in fact, the troublemakers, circling the table at which their alleged attackers were sitting.

Board member Liam Curran said he found a couple of things odd about the story by the victims, who did not attend the hearing. One item taken as evidence by detectives from them was a pair of bloody sweatpants. But even on a weekday night, such as this one, Bijou has a dress code that would have seen the men turned away for wearing them. He also questioned why the two went to Boston Medical Center for care when they were picked up - whether outside the club or at Washington and Stuart - right across the street from Tufts Medical Center.

But Curran had stern words for Bijou on not calling police - as required by its license - after the fight.

Club managers testified they did not realize the men were even hurt after the fight, that the men were, in fact, apologetic and that the two groups left the club - separated by some period of time - quietly.

Simao said "hindsight is 20/20," but that at the time, the incident just did not seem to be that serious. But Curran said that even if the club's account was correct - and the man made up their account of a bouncer telling them one of them had been stabbed - the fact the video showed a physical fight was enough reason to call police.

"If someone's punched in the face and falls to the ground, I think we're talking presumed injury," he said.

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The origin of the label

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The origin of the label 'Combat Zone' had nothing to do with the presence of strip clubs and porn theatres. The judge who coined the term was referring to the shenanigans of sailors from Charlestown Navy Yard in the Essex st bars during the Korean War years.

These days, the Combat Zone has moved to what used to be called the Theatre District.

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But to continue your history past 1985 ...

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These days, the Combat Zone has shrink to exactly two strip clubs next to each other on Lagrange Street, basically an alley off Washington. Washington Street itself has become home to luxury apartments and condos.

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