Work with the Bar Crawl, Not Against It

By Gamal Hennessy

The New York Post recently printed an attack bar on concentration in the East Village, attempting to draw a connection between the number of bars in a given area and the number of AA groups in the same neighborhood. This story came on the heels of an attempt by the Murray Hill community board to limit or control bar crawls. (New York Magazine, Gothamist, DNA Info) and rumblings that Groupon and other related discount services might face legal hurdles when it comes to discounts associated with liquor sales. All these stories are separate, and none of them can shut down venues on their own, but for NIMBY’s they each provide ammunition to reduce nightlife in New York City.

They also provide ammunition for advocates of nightlife who want to push for more support from city agencies. Real estate costs in Downtown Manhattan are among the highest in the country. The only businesses that can afford to operate there (besides Chase, Duane Reade and Starbucks) are ones that cater to people from outside the city.

That is where nightlife comes in. Nightlife is an industry that caters to people from the neighborhood, around the city, around the country and in some cases, around the world. If nightlife is a source of jobs, tourism and tax revenue in good economies and bad ones, which it is (Nightlife Economic Impact Study), then it is something that the city needs to support. If there is a number of venues in a certain area that facilitate bar crawls and happy hours but causes distress and concern with local residents, then the city needs ways help nightlife work with rather than against the local residents.

There are several ways the city can help. Increasing police presence during times of peak activity (Where are the Cops?) can limit the noise and fanatic behavior (The Four Residents of Nightlife) that causes complaints. Increasing sanitation services can limit the waste left behind by a spike in patrons. The solutions are there, but it is unlikely that City Hall will spend more money to support nightlife during a time of continued financial crisis. There seems to be money to create bike lanes and enforce a nanny state but none to create an environment where nightlife works better with the residents (Bloomberg's Nightlife Record). Perhaps it is easier to paint nightlife as a villain than to take on the challenge of creating a solution for both the industry and residents. But since that hasn't worked so far, it might be time to try and find ways to work with the nightlife and the bar crawls, instead of against them.

Have fun.