Most didn’t even know there was a “War on Fun” which is the sobriquet that City Hall followers bestowed on the harassment of live music venues under former Mayor Gavin Newsom. It came to head with a shooting death on July 11, 2010 outside Jelly’s, a Latin music venue in China Basin which resulted in a 90-day license suspension and, later, cancellation of the club’s lease by the SF Port Authority.
The War on Fun was fueled by histrionics in the local media, zealots in California’s Alcoholic Beverage Control, and a police commander and one policeman tuned to vengeance against clubs who considered them fanatics. It led to hearings about public safety and proposals for heavy-handed regulations like mandating the hiring of one security officer for every 50 people at a venue. The War on Fun was a political grandstander’s delight.
Hicks with Sticks rallied some club owners for a well-attended 2010 showdown meeting at the Board of Supervisors chambers to denounce club violence as over-blown. “Where,” we asked the Supervisors, “would you feel safer: on MUNI, in a high school, in a crosswalk on 19th Avenue, or in a club?” This perspective-laden question drew a round of applause and, following the meeting, interviews by three members of the press. The War on Fun lost its steam after that meeting.
The latest issue of the Bay Guardian has declared that the War on Fun is over and fun won. Unrealistic assessments of club violence have been supplanted by a realistic understanding of the contribution live music makes to SF’s culture and coffers. “Preliminary results [of a study commissioned by Sup. Scott Weiner] show that the nightlife industry generates $4.2 billion in annual spending, $55 million in taxes and employs 48,000 people.” Talk about perspective!
Meanwhile, Jelly’s has sued SF for unjustly ruining its business and it is likely to win.