FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Being Morbid on the Party Strip

by BINOY KAMPMARK

Death for dinner and death for afters.  Nightclubs and venues of evening entertainment with poor safety policies, aided by authorities indifferent to the welfare of pleasure seekers are the weeds of entertainment.  The body count from such negligence keeps rising, but so do the number of body counters.  The regulations preventing deaths occasioned by negligence, poor exits, and safety precautions on a global level, remain poor.

The deaths at the Kiss Club in Santa Maria, Brazil, the aftermath of an all too fiery pyrotechnics display, is coming to a chilling 232 and set to rise.  These victims have become part of the necropolis that night life feeds.  Partying is encumbered with exhilarating promise and danger.  The individuals who also facilitated this, members of the band in question and the nightclub owner by the name of Elissandro Spohr (“Kiki”), have been arrested by police concerned with civil matters.  They have been at pains to point out that the detentions are “provisional” at this point.  Also in question are security guards who held patrons back even as the fire started to engulf the premises.

Globally speaking, frequenting night clubs, whatever their pedigree, is an occupational hazard.  You enter places at your peril.  A global excursus into the deadly records of clubs is worth considering, given the latest and spectacular death toll in Santa Maria. The more you peer into the body count, the more one wonders why more people don’t stay at home.  But that, at the end of the day, is precisely the point.  Movement is an assurance of life, a song of existence.

The fascination with such mortality has, however, gone one step further.  The news reports are drawing the corpse counts out of the morgue with fitful relish.  “Deadly blazes: Nightclub tragedies in recent history,” CNN seems to shout out over the others.  Not to be outdone, Canadian news discusses “6 deadly nightclub fires around the world” wishing to give the partying departed a more worldly focus.  The CNN piece is characteristically inaccurate in its accounting – “A look back at U.S. nightclub fires” only to mention an international smorgasbord that avoids the U.S., in the main. To take a few examples: Caracas, December 1, 2002, where 47 perished; and an unnamed dance hall in Luoyang, China, where 309 people lost their lives on Christmas Day in 2000.

The CNN report makes mention of the death of 100 people occasioned by a similar pyrotechnics fiasco in West Warwick, Rhode Island on February 21, 2003.  This is America’s proud donation to the numbers of dead.  Even in death, there is a pulsating ego waiting to be promoted.  We were the first at the scene of slaying.

These places should be mausoleums to the carefree – Quito in Ecuador; the Santika nightclub in Bangkok, Perm in Russia.  Instead, they reveal an increasingly morbid fascination with the casualties of entertainment.  The young will die, and this is the price of curiosity.

The business of night entertainment, and to be specific, nightclub entertainment, is precarious.  Everyone has the potential to be bloodied when the sun goes down and the party animal emerges for fun.  Yes, the patron is at risk, but so is the bar tender who earns the poor wage. The half-wit bouncer, hired for his misdirected brawn, is also at risk, not merely from poor judgment but patrons who should know better.  The management are also under the microscope for squeezing their patrons into intolerable spaces in the name of entertainment and profit.

Dangerous conditions need not come in the form of a fire display that goes terribly wrong.  They can occur in every day interaction on the ground between guests and management.  Let’s take a more recent example of English common law in action.  Everett v Comojo (UK) Ltd (2011) involved a discussion whether a duty is owed by a nightclub to their visitors for the criminal actions of third parties.  A waitress at the club was allegedly assaulted by two guests.  A patron, on witnessing this, sent for his driver while asking the men to apologise.  The driver subsequently attacked the alleged assailants, causing them injury.  They sued.

The English Court of Appeal found that the management of nightclubs regulates entry and removal of individuals to and from their premises.  Those present are entitled to expect no occasion of violence, a safe environment and for those reasons, there was sufficient proximity between management and the guests for a duty of care to exist.

For those familiar with the nightclub scene, such expectations are often the stuff of fantasy.  True, many managers do abide by statutes and bylaws, some painstakingly so.  But a party nullified of danger is often devoid of flavour.  It is morbid, but humans need their flirt with Thanatos, their insensible moment of fun.  And that is what keeps the likes of Kiki and the pyrotechnic deviants in business.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail