FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Being Morbid on the Party Strip

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

More articles by:

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

Weekend Edition
May 25, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
A Major Win for Trump’s War Cabinet
Andrew Levine
Could Anything Cause the GOP to Dump Trump?
Pete Tucker
Is the Washington Post Soft on Amazon?
Conn Hallinan
Iran: Sanctions & War
Jeffrey St. Clair
Out of Space: John McCain, Telescopes and the Desecration of Mount Graham
John Laforge
Senate Puts CIA Back on Torture Track
David Rosen
Santa Fe High School Shooting: an Incel Killing?
Gary Leupp
Pompeo’s Iran Speech and the 21 Demands
Jonathan Power
Bang, Bang to Trump
Robert Fisk
You Can’t Commit Genocide Without the Help of Local People
Brian Cloughley
Washington’s Provocations in the South China Sea
Louis Proyect
Requiem for a Mountain Lion
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Israel: a Match Made in Hell
Kevin Martin
The Libya Model: It’s Not Always All About Trump
Susie Day
Trump, the NYPD and the People We Call “Animals”
Pepe Escobar
How Iran Will Respond to Trump
Sarah Anderson
When CEO’s Earn 5,000 Times as Much as a Company’s Workers
Ralph Nader
Audit the Outlaw Military Budget Draining America’s Necessities
Chris Wright
The Significance of Karl Marx
David Schultz
Indict or Not: the Choice Mueller May Have to Make and Which is Worse for Trump
George Payne
The NFL Moves to Silence Voices of Dissent
Razan Azzarkani
America’s Treatment of Palestinians Has Grown Horrendously Cruel
Katalina Khoury
The Need to Evaluate the Human Constructs Enabling Palestinian Genocide
George Ochenski
Tillerson, the Truth and Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department
Jill Richardson
Our Immigration Debate Needs a Lot More Humanity
Martha Rosenberg
Once Again a Slaughterhouse Raid Turns Up Abuses
Judith Deutsch
Pension Systems and the Deadly Hand of the Market
Shamus Cooke
Oregon’s Poor People’s Campaign and DSA Partner Against State Democrats
Thomas Barker
Only a Mass Struggle From Below Can End the Bloodshed in Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
Australia’s China Syndrome
Missy Comley Beattie
Say “I Love You”
Ron Jacobs
A Photographic Revenge
Saurav Sarkar
War and Moral Injury
Clark T. Scott
The Shell Game and “The Bank Dick”
Seth Sandronsky
The State of Worker Safety in America
Thomas Knapp
Making Gridlock Great Again
Manuel E. Yepe
The US Will Have to Ask for Forgiveness
Laura Finley
Stop Blaming Women and Girls for Men’s Violence Against Them
Rob Okun
Raising Boys to Love and Care, Not to Kill
Christopher Brauchli
What Conflicts of Interest?
Winslow Myers
Real Security
George Wuerthner
Happy Talk About Weeds
Abel Cohen
Give the People What They Want: Shame
David Yearsley
King Arthur in Berlin
Douglas Valentine
Memorial Day
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail