News » Glbt

Gay Pride Weekend Brings Club Raids

by Steve Weinstein

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Saturday June 28, 2008

On Friday, June 27, tens of thousands of men were pouring out onto the streets of Manhattan from all over the country expecting a citywide party. The last weekend in June is not only a celebration of Gay Pride, but also a lucrative weekend-long festival of gay dance events. But this year, something else happened.

The City of New York, which has been cracking down hard on gay sex venues, moved in with a vengeance on nightclubs. Splash was reportedly overrun by police, although no one from the city or the club returned calls for comment. The club has, however, remained open.

The other club was shut down. Pacha, the megaclub on the western edge of Hell's Kitchen, was scheduled to hold two major dance parties for Gay Pride: Victor Calderone's Pride Evolve on Saturday; and the Saint at Large's Champions on Sunday night.

Champions has been moved to Capitale, a large space on the border of the Lower East Side and Chinatown where Saint at Large has held parties in the past. Mike Peyton, of the Saint at Large, said that anyone with a ticket for Pacha party should simply show up at Capitale, which is the Bowery a few blocks above Canal Street, and the ticket will be honored.

Moving the party has cost the Saint at Large probably much, if not most, of the proceeds, which were to go to Heritage of Pride, the organization that runs the march down Fifth Avenue.

A notice at Pacha gave the following information for the club shutdown. There has been surveillance of the club since Aug. 11, 2007. Since that time, the warrent said, there have been drugs bought that included Ecstasy in various quantities for about $20 per pill; cocaine, up to as much as $750 worth; marijuana; and "alleged" ketamine (which could mean it was sold as Special K, but might have been a substitute).

The warrant cited drug buys within the cub on dates from August 2007 into June 2008, but the big drug buys only started occurring around December of last year.

The club remains closed as of this writing. According to some reports, Marquee, a straight club on the "club strip" in West Chelsea, was also shut down by authorities. But many people, both New Yorkers and out-of-towners, are wondering about the timing of these incidents on the biggest all-gay weekend of the year.

Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early '80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007).