Underage music lovers excluded from shows

Column by Donald Mason. E-mail at [email protected].

So, you are an undergrad looking for something to do in Lexington.

You round up your friends and head downtown. There are people running around in the street, bands playing and good times are in store. You get to the venue to check out some music you heard about and the dreadful words are asked, “Can I see your ID?”

You only want to listen to music, not drink or get too wild (at least not in public), and your birthday doesn’t agree with the bouncher. You are turned away.

While there are a handful of places that do offer 18 and over entertainment, those places typically are the restaurant/venue establishments.

Unless your favorite band is playing at the 18 and over venues, you will miss out on them. If they continue to play at venues that aren’t 18 and over, you might miss them during your time at UK.

As a long time Lexington resident and front man in a band, I see this as a solvable problem that could benefit the venues as well as Lexington.

First of all, students who have an enriched experience in the city during their time in college have an increased chance that they will be holdovers when they graduate.

This exposure will increase the educational level, revenue for the city and have advocates for UK, based on their experience.

Young, progressive and educated people help this city grow into the next phase and become a viable destination for young professionals.

If someone doesn’t get to delve into the culture and nightlife of Lexington until 21, Lexington has a hard time competing with Louisville, Cincinnati, Nashville and other surrounding cities in those areas.

That same person will be ready to leave Lexington upon graduation, for something “bigger and better”

Second, students will be able to find local music and latch on for several years. This helps the bands survive with not only the cover take from the door, but crowd support and fan feedback.

Supporting local music is more difficult than supporting national acts.

Local acts have about an average of three years, meaning if a band starts your freshman year, you may not get a chance to see them before they disappear. National acts have large ad campaigns, considerable followings, promoted music, etc.

For local acts, you have to be in the know, referred to a band or stumble upon one when you are out and about.

Lastly, the venues could profit from this as well. Granted, the underage patrons would not be able to stimulate bar sales, but if they paid a premium cover ($10 instead of $5, for example) and possibly a two non-alcoholic drink minimum, they would be making up for some of that difference.

Instead of putting the big black Sharpie “X” on the hands of the underage, put it on those who are of age.

Chances are that a 21 and over patron will not wash the X off.

The main reason why venues are not as friendly about this more often is the insurance/licensure liability. If one bad apple came in and was served drinks, the venue would face heavy fines and possibly lose their liquor license. The only way for it to work is for the underage respect the privilege.

Once venues lock into a system and have safeguards built in to protect them, this would be a great way to draw the entire campus, instead of 25 perecent.

Until things change, you can always stand outside. DRM signing out.