The Perils of Dancing
Fairfax County faces an accumulation of large decisions that will guide it through the next 30 years; a population that has shifted westward causing budget deficit, transportation gridlock, rising gang related crime in western suburbs, and an economy which has become dangerously connected to federal budgetary discretion. Of course, the most dangerous of all dilemmas in consideration, a crisis which has been on the minds of all residents… the dangers of DANCE! For years now the near octogenarian populations of Fairfax County have been confronted with vulgar body undulations in the mall (So You Think You Can Dance?), on television, in High Schools, and now, the worst of all, in lascivious brothels of shame known as bars.
Many of you might think that these establishments are just restaurants, or at best a fairly lame watering hole, as we have discussed in our previous synopsis of Fairfax bar mediocrity. The State of Virginia has fought the good fight against these terrible dens of inequity through the requirements that each bar sell a certain amount of food, avoid advertising specials and happy hours, and over all keeping bars as franchised or irish pubby as possible.
The rational for these regulations has been to reduce drunk driving and reduce crime. While this is of course a great goal, one could argue that providing better police presence, accessible non-vehicular travel, and continued strict penalties for DUI’s could work better than stifling all innovation possibilities for proprietors. These entrepreneurs who might not know how to grill a steak, but can tend a good bar, want to be able to provide better live acts, premiere locations in the hearts of urban areas, and unique concepts. These creative elements are not affordable when your margins are eaten up in carrying stocked frozen foods for the sole purpose of meeting state mandated quotas.
As if these absurd and outdated regulations were not stifling enough the County is now arguing that these forced restaurants have loud music and worst of all, DANCING! The solution? Set a maximum allotted dancing space of 150 square feet, a space smaller than most of our readers bedrooms. Do bar fights happen sometimes? Sure any time you have a couple of bad apples getting too many drinks in them a fight could be possible, but we are addressing the effect instead of readdressing the cause. The reason why many of these restaurant bars become community problems are because the owners must locate the venue in a region where it will attain a significant dining presence while reducing lease costs, ie in the suburbs. The bar owners must use every avenue at their disposal to break even on the costs, which many have resorted to loose restrictions on patrons. By removing the quasi-criminalization of alcohol sales in Virginia, the underground nature of these establishments (the same types of establishments that many of our fore fathers and founders operated or frequented) would be reverted to a more overt commerce.
By aligning ourselves to such progressive thinkers as the town from Footloose, the dad from Dirty Dancing, and the State of Mississippi we tell younger educated professionals that our region is a place to come for your social life to die. One doesn’t have to look far to see the contributions that a young and ambitious generation can have in this regions economy, most notably the story this week from the Washington Post about a Thomas Jefferson alumni who is creating jobs in Fairfax. To create a caricature of all bar patrons as brawling Road House style ruffians misses the point that in order to assure our regions future, we must avoid scaring away the very residents that will lead that future.
Update: The Board of Supervisors has decided to take a pass on this proposal, likely because it was a complete waste of time to even consider. If anything we need to be moving to repeal the laws on the books which stifle innovation, not adding another level of idiocy on top of it.