Dance ‘Til It’s Midnight

Velvet Jones nightclub won an extra hour of dancing-extending the cut-off time to midnight-for the 18-and-over crowd by taking its case to the Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday. Velvet Jones owner Craig Jenkins appealed new dance restrictions the Santa Barbara Police Department and the Fire and Police Commission sought to impose that would require dancing to stop at 11 p.m. when patrons under the age of 21 were on premises. Currently, Velvet Jones is the only nightclub in the city’s Entertainment District that offers live music for the under-21 crowd. Councilmembers cited Velvet Jones’s exemplary security record in extending the allowed dancing hours to midnight.

In addition, they expressed a keen interest in keeping yet another business from closing its doors on State Street. Jenkins asserted that another club on the 400 block, Q’s, had closed shortly after the new conditions were imposed. Speaking on behalf of Velvet Jones’s appeal was Kay Morter, the owner of the Holiday Inn, normally an outspoken critic of many bars and nightclubs in the area. In addition, Neil Ablitt, who lives 30 feet from the Velvet Jones’ back patio, strongly endorsed Jenkins in his appeal. Typically, live acts booked at Velvet Jones don’t start until 10, so the proposed 11 p.m. rule would seriously cramp the club’s style. The recommended regulation is part of a broader push by police to shut down dancing sooner in the Entertainment District to minimize the size of State Street crowds pouring onto the sidewalks at closing time. Additionally, police hoped to reduce the number of people under 21 on State Street when bars close.

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