Brooklyn DIY Venue Owners Talk Cops, Gentrification and Strategy

Boston Police car

(from Billboard Magazine, October 22, 2013) Brooklyn nightlife venues find it valuable to be the first in their developing neighborhoods; the police get to be familiar with them and figure out they aren’t causing problems. However, in recent years there has appeared to be unfair targeting by authorities who are going as far as raiding some of the clubs. Todd Patrick, co-owner of 285 Kent stated, “I think the feeling among a lot of small businesses is that the city has cracked down on them as a way to bring in revenues without having to raise taxes.” Last week a panel of nightclub owners including Brooklyn Bowl, Glasslands, 285 Kent, Cameo Gallery and Bossa Nova Civic Club met up to share notes and drink control horror stories. The discussion was hosted at Bedford + Bowery in collaboration with NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and New York Magazine; discussion topics on hand included best practices, the spirit of competition, gentrification and, of course, cooperating with local authorities. They concluded that the number of complaints increased along with the number of high-income residents. Big donors with political power know how to get a hold of the Senator, and that’s where the trouble begins for these small businesses. They believe promoters and venue operators play an important role in accelerating the gentrification of the neighborhoods, and some even feel responsible to offer a source of enrichment to the original investors in those communities. Patrick, who is also part of a project at the Market Hotel in Bushwick, used an anonymous $100,000 grant to open the venue during the day to offer music education classes to at-risk youth. “In the daytime most venues are just black empty rooms,” Patrick said. “I want the space to be more than just an island of privilege where a few hundred white kids line up on the weekends.” Over the years it has become more common for the late night party goers to bounce from one venue to the next creating competition, and the population increase in the neighborhoods have been a large part of that. However, there is still space to add more clubs, and there will always be room because people love to dance.