Metro Weekly

Town nightclub releases statement in wake of Orlando attacks

"LGBT bars and nightclubs have always been, and continue to be, the safest of all locations for our community to just be free to be who they are."

Town Danceboutique building in DC
Town Danceboutique – Photo: JD Uy

The owners of Town Danceboutique, Number Nine and Trade have released a statement addressing security concerns in the wake of Sunday’s mass shooting at a gay Orlando nightclub. The statement, which addresses the security measures they are taking to ensure the security of patrons and staff, follows in full:

The owners of Town Danceboutique, Number Nine and Trade have had the immense pleasure of owning and operating some of the most prominent gay bars and nightclubs in Washington, DC for the last 28 years.  We could not be prouder of having helped to continue the tradition of our community by providing a series of safe places for LGBT people to congregate and openly enjoy their lives. We have taken that responsibility very seriously and with an educated and respectful point of view that drives us to always help, and give back, and protect, and cherish our family.

Historically, the gay bar has been the only trusted, safe place for LGBT people to gather, meet, socialize, display affection, express themselves, and be who they truly are.  Our bars and nightclubs have become the destination to celebrate, commiserate, regroup, and retreat, and they have long been the central location of the majority of our community outreach and fundraising efforts. Most of all, LGBT bars and nightclubs have always been, and continue to be, the safest of all locations for our community to just be free to be who they are.

In an ever-increasingly complicated and tense world, we are constantly working to re-evaluate our efforts in the area of security and customer and staff safety.  While we have a number of policies and procedures in place that we do not discuss publicly as divulging those details would undermine their effectiveness, we will share that we have relied on a long history of substantial nightclub experience to organize and plan our systems of security and safety including staffing and architectural design.

At Town, we employ a large, uniformed staff stationed throughout the club, provide a visible presence, and have constant interaction with our customers.  We utilize a sophisticated camera system which employ dozens of cameras and allows for remote access.  We have multiple, uniformed, Metropolitan DC Police in front of the club which not only act as a deterrent, but also allow for an immediate response, fast back up, and an active line of communication across the city.  We are leaders in the DCNHA (DC Nightlife and Hospitality Association) which recently co-sponsored a terrorism security briefing for local establishments with DC Metropolitan Police, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI which ownership and managers attended.  We take an active role in our neighborhood and are well connected to community leaders, other nightlife ownership, local politicians, and the DC Metropolitan Police which provides for a more substantial base of safety throughout our community.

We are heartbroken by what has happened in Orlando.  It is shocking and jarring and sad beyond words.  And yet, there have always been those that did not accept us, that would do us harm, and that would rather we simply did not exist.  We have lived with that reality for as long as anyone has dared to love someone of the same sex.  So, while this tragedy is horrific, it is sadly not actually unimaginable to our community.  The continued inequality, legal discrimination, and sanctioned bigotry in our country have been the subtext upon which hatred and violence have been able to continue. Systemic homophobia may not be as obvious as mass murder, but both are a part of a system that dehumanizes our LGBT family.

So, we ask that there is a renewed effort on the part of our country to view the LGBT community as equal, whole, and worthy, because we are.  We will continue to protect ourselves. We will continue to create and maintain our own safe places.  We will continue to love who we love.  And, we will continue to ask that our country join us in these pursuits.  And then, maybe, LGBT bars and nightclubs can be just a place to party.

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