Misreading the writing on the wall

by Brian Clarey


It appeared as an item in Greensboro City Manager Rashad Young’s weekly IFYI e-mail, generally issued right around 5 p.m. on Fridays, just in time for the weekend: A report by consulting firm Responsible Hospitality Institute after a “late night tour of downtown clubs” and a workshop that, according to the attached letter, drew 70 people including “property owners, business owners, nightclub owners, law enforcement officers, media and others.”

Though YES! Weekly was not offered a seat at the symposium, we contend that we are surely stakeholders in a vibrant, thriving and safe downtown nightlife scene. As documenters of the culture our reporters spend a great deal of time in downtown Greensboro; we rely on healthy businesses to buy advertising in our paper; many of us live in the city and regularly avail ourselves of the things the district has to offer.

Naturally, we consider ourselves expert on Greensboro’s urban center, and we take umbrage at more than a couple of the assessments put forth by RHI.

One item in particular seems a bit off-key, so to speak.

“Venues offer mostly DJ music,” the report reads, “whereas live music is limited in supply, yet high in quality” suggesting an expansion of live music through late-afternoon and evening performance slots, a better live music calendar and more “recognition of local musicians in media.”

For one, there are live music clubs from one end of downtown — Artistika — to the other — the Flatiron, not to mention Churchills, the Green Bean, Bin 33, Gray’s Tavern, Green Street Club and Studio B, all of which regularly feature the local, live stuff. Throw in occasional performances at the Carolina Theatre, UpStage Cabaret and any of our downtown outdoor stages, and we’ve got a veritable music row going on down there.

All of this, virtually every performance, is listed in the pages of YES! Weekly every week. So it’s hard not to feel slighted.

And we have a recommendation of our own: Close Elm street to traffic between Friendly and Washington Avenue on Friday and Saturday nights.

True, the RHI report warns that similar measures in Austin, Texas and Tampa, Fla. resulted in the streets becoming late-night “party” scene where “noise levels tend to increase.”

But we contend that the whole point of revitalizing downtown Greensboro was to bring big groups of people down there. And big groups of people tend to make a lot of noise, especially when they’re having a good time.

The problem with downtown Greensboro, as we see it, is that those deemed “stakeholders” seem to want to control just who gets to enjoy the fine urban center we’ve created. But that’s not how cities work. Not good ones, anyway.

YES! Weekly chooses to exercise its right to express editorial opinion in our publication. In fact we cherish it, considering opinion to be a vital component of any publication. The viewpoints expressed represent a consensus of the YES! Weekly editorial staff, achieved through much deliberation and consideration