Essential local DIY live-music venue the Snooze Theatre had its Monday-evening entertainment cut short by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office this week. The Lake Park venue, which was previously a blues club called the Orange Door, has been open for a little more than half a year. This is reportedly the first time local law enforcement has made this type of move at the Snooze -- and hopefully the last.
Update on Friday: "THE SHOW TONIGHT IS CANCELLED AND SO ARE ALL OTHER SHOWS UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE."
Things started to go sour just before midnight, when a man in PBSO green pulled Snooze co-owners Jordan Pettingill and C.J. Jankow outside to question them about their beer and wine license, which had reportedly expired. He proceeded to loudly admonish the pair, called for backup, and told them to cease all alcohol sales, adding "but you can keep the music going." Easier said than done, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.
Update: according to PBSO public information officer Teri Barbera, Jankow and Pettingill were eventually arrested for selling alcohol without a license.
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The spirit of the Snooze Theatre was first explored back in December 2010, when members of the West Palm Beach psychedelic synth-rock act the Jameses teamed with Pettingill and Jankow to host a two-day weekend festival at the spot dubbed Zitfest. Since then, when the owners aren't on tour with their bands Cop City Chill Pillars and Love Handles, the Snooze is a labor of love that has united a small, passionate segment of South Florida music lovers who want something different from a velvet rope and a $16 martini.
Pettingill politely explained to the sheriff's officer that any money made at the door or off the $4 Stellas at the bar would be split among the traveling bands. In the case of the blindfolded garage-punk duo the Vignettes, this means some necessary gas money for getting them back to their Memphis home. As is the case with many Snooze events, the place wasn't packed, but the crowd cheered heartily and bobbed their heads during Tumbleweave's spastic dubstep parody of a live DJ set between bands. However, once PBSO began digging through the cabinets and storage rooms and talking about potential fines, all of the night's energy was sapped from the venue's red checkered floor.
Via Chrome Dick, who was there to perform with Suede Dudes:
So the cops totally shut down the show at The Snooze Theatre tonight. Mainly because they were bored, saw some kids hanging out having a good time, and decided to ruin the rest of the night. Four of the six bands played... well, William Stull played half of a set.
Why couldn't they just leave us alone?! They should be patrolling the shitty areas and preventing crime, not music and creativity.
In light of how difficult it is to obtain a beer and wine license for a South Florida bar in the first place and additionally how challenging it is to make it into a profitable venture (see Monterey Club), it was especially disheartening to see the night cut short by the law.
Any sort of public safety officer is that public safety should be the highest priority. When law enforcement focuses on keeping the peace and keeping people from harming themselves, it's arguably one of the greatest qualities of living in the United States. However, witnessing the Snooze Theatre raid felt more like harassment than "an education for all of us," as the man in green called it during his extensive explanation of the importance of treating him with the respect he deserves. How about treating one of the most upstanding venues around with the respect it deserves too?
Swab any number of South Florida music venue toilet seats and the likelihood of finding a certain type of drug residue is high. There are too many places that think that all-age dance music parties where other certain drugs are passed around like candy is a responsible business model. We're also still reeling from Jimmy Pagano's death in a music venue that came as a result of an argument over an $8 bar tab, and there are places down here that seem to have no regard for staying within legal capacity. These establishments know who they are and live on -- and thrive without harassment from the authorities, in many cases. (To the places who stay in business without any of the above bullshit going on, we salute you.)
What law enforcement should be able to see: the Snooze Theatre provides is a safe alternative to all of the above -- even without a hefty pricetag. Though there's beer and wine on the premises, the people there respect one another, they carry one anothers' equipment, and they offer couches for the weary to crash on. The greatest potential danger for physical harm on any given night would be a bruised ego when Kenny Millions tells you to eat shit or hearing damage. (Earplugs are for sale, though.) Jankow and Pettingill may never be able to have an advertising budget to advertise Snooze shows in New Times, but they've got a wealth of good will banked instead from many locals who are grateful it exists.
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