Kicking off their Sunday shoes is just the beginning.
A plan to open a gay nightclub in Vinegar Hill that rages until 5 am would bring hordes of rowdy revelers to the area’s otherwise sleepy cobblestoned streets, and their footloose ways will only lead to more serious vices, the leader of a local civic group told Community Board 2’s liquor license committee on Wednesday night.
“We all know when people come to dance, they drink, there’s illicit drugs,” said Vinegar Hill Association president Aldona Vaiciunas, one of many locals who packed the meeting to rail against the plan. “They’re not gonna follow any type of map — they’ll go all over the neighborhood, they’ll be vomiting, yelling, singing, whatever. This is not a suitable way of life for us.”
But nightclub designer Guy Smith and disc jockey Tadeu Magalhaes believe there is a time to dance — they want to build a 400-person venue called 84 Kings on the second floor of a warehouse at Gold and Plymouth streets, but failed to win over a majority of committee members, who instead deadlocked 3–3 on the plan.
This is already the second time the pair have presented their club to Community Board 2 — they pitched it to the panel’s executive committee over summer, which shot them down with a 7–3 vote, arguing the tiny historic ’hood is no place for a party palace.
The duo returned to Wednesday’s committee meeting with a more fleshed-out proposal, offering an artfully designed 42-page presentation complete with table of contents stating their weekend dance parties will only be open to invited members — who can bring two guests with them — and that on weekdays, they will offer the space as a queer community center that will be open until midnight.
Vinegar Hill is the perfect place for a queer venue because many gay and trans people are moving into nearby Dumbo, Fort Greene, and Park Slope and there aren’t enough places where they can let their hair down, they claimed.
“These spaces are very politically and socially important for the LGBTQ community,” said Magalhaes, who lives in Fort Greene. “It’s one of the few spaces where the queer community can actually feel safe and be who they are.”
The duo also provided a comparison of noise-complaint data from other gay dance parties in Brooklyn with standard club nights, which they said shows their crowd will be far better behaved. But locals said party people are equal-opportunity ruckus raisers.
“This is an insult to partygoers everywhere who are not known to discriminate,” said Steven Barker, a longtime Vinegar Hill resident. “Quiet and respect are not the first qualities known to be brought out by alcohol.”
And any loud revelry that does occur will lower the value of residents’ historic row houses, one said.
“We came for the peace and quiet and the value of our real estate is in the peace and quiet,” said Bashar Azzouz.
After listening to the neighbors’ gripes for a full hour, the committee members recommended Smith and Magalhaes reduce the club’s capacity to 200 people and return to the board again.
Magalhaes said he will run the numbers to see if the venue could earn enough money to survive with half the guests, but if not, he will start looking for spaces in other neighborhoods.
Of course, the pair don’t actually need the panel’s approval to secure a booze slinging permit — its vote is just a recommendation to the State Liquor Authority, which may or may not take the board’s advice it into consideration.