Your issue did a pretty good job of pointing out the vast nightlife and musical heritage our city has produced over the decades past.
But Richmond seems to have a hard time fostering a pro-business environment for these nightclubs. For some unfathomable reason the powers that be in the Capital City and, to a greater extent, the commonwealth and its draconian Alcoholic and Beverage Control Board have seen fit to put a damper on any peculiar or unnecessarily jubilant scene that might spring up in our musically fertile area.
The food-to-beverage ratio is stifling: why not create a "nightclub only" alcohol license that eases the food sale percentage? The seemingly discriminatory policy of targeting only so-called "gay dance clubs" for drug offenses; how on earth can a club owner be unconditionally and legally responsible for every transaction and exchange that might occur in his or her club? Why should a club owner be required by city code to hire an off-duty policeman every night they are open? Why not gladly and willingly throw your doors open to a uniformed inspection during operating hours instead?
It is these types of nuisance laws and regulations that deter nightclub owners from increasing profits or from even taking the huge risks a small business owner faces and opening at all. What the city and commonwealth do not seem to understand is that the more a restaurant or bar makes in legal, law-abiding revenues the more they pay in taxes, and the more the city and commonwealth prosper. For Richmond to become a destination city for groups and conventions they need all the restaurants and clubs they can support.
For those unwilling to follow existing codes regarding consumption of alcohol and illegal drugs there are clear and strict laws. Let's enforce these existing laws while allowing adults to make adult decisions about bars and nightclubs.
One final point, the city of Richmond is busy building the 800-gazillion square-foot convention center on Broad Street. What on earth do they think people do when they visit a town to attend a convention? Eat, drink, be merry and see some entertainment. Where does the city think these folks are going to do this if all the clubs are subject to arcane regulations and rules?
Towing "Victim" Is Blameworthy
The May 22 issue of Style was the best I have read in years. From the same page juxtapositional points of view about zoning, property-owner rights and their conflicts with public recreational uses to the article on WXGI, the private pioneer of Richmond radio (timely, in that it was published the same day as Congressional hearings regarding 1996's radio deregulation that has led to the current conglomeration of radio), Style managed to take local news to the level of personal impact and emotion. Kudos!
However, Esther Nelson's First Person feature, "Car Trouble," must have been humiliating for her. It was a simple expression of victimhood written by someone who is clearly trying to place the responsibility on the city rather than on herself.
The point is not that Richmond has an unresponsive bureaucracy (it does), but that all of this would have been avoided had Ms. Nelson simply taken the responsibility to either call the city before leaving the country, leave a key with a friend or store her car off-street. In addition, Ms. Nelson could have taken the bus to the courthouse or paid to park in a deck if she found the two-mile walk too much. As for cell phones and water, why would you expect a courtroom to be a lounge? Yes, the city should do a better job of directing and instructing uninformed citizens, their 'customers,' but Ms. Nelson's experience is indicative of a community in which we complain about paying taxes on $40,000 cars and $200,000 houses, refuse to allow exercising children in our neighborhoods (re: Bandy Road Park and Pastor Hughes in Hanover), but also do not take the civic responsibility to be proactive or even informed about our government and its performance or lack thereof.
Style Weekly's mission is to provide smart, witty and tenacious coverage of Richmond. Our editorial team strives to reveal Richmond's true identity through unflinching journalism, incisive writing, thoughtful criticism, arresting photography and sophisticated presentation.
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