For all the talk of revenue and racial profiling, the battle over earlier bar closings that temporarily occupied Atlanta City Council in 2003 always seemed to be about something far less quantifiable. Behind the debate lurked the agendas of two camps: those who believe there's something more intoxicating about a city with a dynamic nightlife than just alcohol, and those who saw the city's bars as curios, nice to have around but best kept on a shelf, lest the semblance of order break down in mere walking distance to their immaculate lawns.
For the collector of memorabilia, there are, of course, safety concerns -- and concern about property values, which some believe is a more central issue. After all, what good are your tchotchkes if their value depreciates?
But for those who believe life begins after dark, City Council's ruling feels like being told not only where they can't be, but who they can't be. Because it's not the place that defines a scene, but rather the people. Even between bare walls people will bare all -- hopes, dreams, frustrations, elations. Clubbers don't go out to buy a pint, they buy a conversation, a fantasy, an apparition, an aspiration. Closing bars and nightclubs early threatens not only the generation of revenue, but the generation of a generation.
If anything good has come out of the battle over earlier bar closings, however, it's the unity that has been created among very different segments of Atlanta's nightlife. And besides, those who believe you can find yourself best in a crowd will continue to congregate. While their arguments may have fallen on deaf ears at City Council, they'll continue to fill blissfully unregulated loft and warehouse spaces.
So to the memorabilia collectors, I say thanks. The next year will certainly be very memorable, indeed.
Deal will skate. You heard it here first.
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