City tangos with downtown dancing issue

Photo by Lori Longoria

Editor’s note: This story was written collaboratively by three
members of the Leadership Gilroy Class of 2011. The class visited
the Dispatch Friday morning to get hands-on experience working as
reporters, photographers, videographers, editors and page
designers. Read the story here
Editor’s note: This story was written by the Leadership Gilroy Class of 2011.The class visited the Dispatch Friday morning to get hands-on experience working as reporters, photographers, videographers, editors and page designers.

By Krista Thomas, Judy Bryant and Eva Trenberth

Special to the Dispatch

No dancing in Gilroy? Jorge Briones, the owner of 9 Lives Club, contacted several bands who were apprehensive about playing because they heard dancing was illegal in Gilroy.

Though people are allowed to boogie in Downtown Gilroy clubs, the city is reviewing an ordinance that would create guidelines for dancing downtown and entertainment inside venues city-wide.

“I view the dance ordinance as a good thing and a challenge,” Briones said.

Briones said it was positive because the city is trying to provide guidelines for a safer atmosphere for dancing and entertainment. Briones, a newcomer to downtown – he opened 9 Lives Club New Year’s Eve 2010, said it was a challenge because of problems at other clubs in years past.

The ordinance came about because there had been issues of safety at clubs in the past.

“Dancing’s not what causes problems, it’s poor management,” Briones said.

He added dancing downtown was safe entertainment and “you won’t get pregnant if you dance at 9 Lives.”

The committee designated by the city, created in 2009, is reviewing details of the ordinance. They include definitions for venue sizes, dance-floor sizes, along with security and food and beverages.

Small venues are allowed to have occasional spontaneous dancing where there is no dance floor and dancing is not advertised, according to the ordinance; at a maximum dance floor size of 150-square-feet.

Medium venues are associated with full-service restaurants or theaters, and dance floors cannot be larger than 441 square feet or 25 percent of the floor area. At these venues, the dancing must be ancillary to a full-service restaurant. Large venues will have dance floors beyond the dimensions of a medium venue.

Security cameras, adequate parking, and an entertainment permit are just a few of the parameters required at the large venues.

These ordinances can help better manage businesses and venues downtown, Briones said. The restrictions are greater for newcomers who may fall under the more focused guidelines.

“We are being treated differently than those grandfathered in,” said Briones, former director of the Morgan Hill Downtown Association.

Fran Beaudet, co-owner of Station 55 a restaurant on Fifth Street, questioned if the ordinance would also include definitions of dancing.

“What is the definition of dancing?” she said “I would hate to have to control dancing.”

Station 55 caters to an older crowd who may enjoy karaoke or family-oriented entertainment, and doesn’t consider her place just a “bar.”

Beaudet says she is in line with all city requirements and permits and wonders how the city could control people who want to dance.

“How are you going to stop people from getting up and boogeying?” Beaudet asks. She says that staying open late and dancing is her business’ “bread and butter.”

Future businesses downtown subject to these guidelines include dance schools, public dances, wine bars and theaters.

DANCE VENUES

Small

– Occasional spontaneous dancing allowed where no dance floor is provided.

– Combined dancing area is smaller than 150 square feet.

– Examples include indoor restaurant hired to play jazz music.

Medium

– Associated with full service restaurant or theater.

– Dancing and ancillary to food service.

– Dance floor no more than 441 square feet or 25 percent of public area.

Large

– Dance floor larger than a medium sized venue.

– Promoter license, security plan and entertainment permit required.

– Allowable in northern and southern edges of downtown in Gateway District.

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