Sep 112012

The Amnesia nightclub is located in a commercial zone, like the commercial strips on Third and Fifth Avenues. (Photo by Brian Hedden)

I’m going to make a possibly unpopular argument and say that the Amnesia dance club (10007 4th Avenue) should be allowed to operate, in spite of what Community Board 10 has to say. But not if they refuse to seek out a cabaret license, which we demonstrated last spring is with the night club’s reach, if they’d only try.

Will Bredderman wrote today on about Community Board 10′s renewed efforts to close the Amnesia nightclub – by moving to have its state liquor license revoked on the grounds that it continues to operate as a dance club without the required cabaret license from the City’s Consumer Affairs department.

I have to admit, I’m a little surprised this has become an issue again. After the Community Board recommended to deny a cabaret license to Amnesia back in March, I knew that the club continued to operate through the spring and early summer, and I knew they still didn’t have a cabaret permit. But while the State Liquor Authority renewed their on-premise alcohol permit, it also seemed to me that club events that used to take place at Amnesia moved to a new club near the Gowanus Canal called SRB (as in Salsa, Reggaeton, and Bachata). So I didn’t think there was any more activity to stop.

I guess I was wrong about that – I guess they just hit a lull in events and I stopped paying attention. As Bredderman reports, flyers for the club still show up under windshield wipers.

Here’s what I don’t get – why won’t Amnesia just buckle down and get themselves a cabaret license?

On a personal level, I don’t like a law that prohibits dancing, especially given that it traces its roots to bigotry against Harlem’s multiracial jazz clubs in the 1920s. And I really didn’t like the tone of one of the Community Board members at the March committee meeting that complained that the club brought “young people” into the neighborhood (I wish I could remember which CB member that was – needless to say, she wasn’t any spring chicken herself).

But the law is the law, until the City Council and Mayor change it. Some attempt at reform was proposed in the last decade, but never executed.

The Amnesia dance club is located in the striped area on the map – a commercial zone. (Zoning map from

But people… and please listen up, managers and lawyers for 10007 4th Avenue LLC: getting your cabaret license over the objection of the Community Board is not that hard. Look here:

  • In 2010, the DCA granted a cabaret license to No. 1 Front in DUMBO over the objection of Community Board 2
  • In 2008, the DCA granted a cabaret license to Studio B in Greenpoint over the objection of Community Board 1 – even though it had been operating as a dance club without a license before that
  • In both cases, the Community Board objections based on noise complaints from neighbors were overridden by the simple fact that the city zoning laws allowed those clubs to operate in their locations. Like I said – the law is the law until someone changes it.
  • Unlike Studio B and No. 1 Front, which are in manufacturing-zoned areas, Amnesia is in a “C1-3″ commercial zone. However, this is exactly the same kind of zone in which the Salty Dog and Remy – two other Bay Ridge businesses with cabaret licenses – operate.

So to recap – the DCA gives permits to clubs that are (1) not in favor with their Community Boards, (2) have operated without licenses in the past, and (3) are in C1-3 commercial zones.

So, Amnesia, why are you not following through on this? Because it’s been six months. At this point, I think you’re just being lazy and don’t want to do the same work that No. 1 Front, Studio B, Salty Dog, and Remy put in to their licensing requirements.

Zoning laws allow like businesses in like zones to be treated equally under the law. Which means Amnesia does have the opportunity to do right by the City and operate its business legally. But if it doesn’t do the same legwork that clubs like Salty Dog and Studio B have done, than it deserves to be shut down for good.

  • AstarteOurania

    And there have been clubs in Bay Ridge before so I don’t see why they wouldn’t do it. I’ve never understood the cabaret law either but since it’s a fee for the city it won’t be removed. The area’s very commercial, I don’t see the problem. The thing is with all the new construction of apartment buildings in Brooklyn it’s unavoidable that they will be next to bars and clubs so everyone will have to learn to play nice together not boot each other out.