Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Ritz

Once every month or two somebody calls the paper to complain about getting roughed up in a rock club by security guards (bouncers, they used to call them). Even when these incidents involve firearms (an abortive reggae concert at Bond's) or artists getting pushed down the stairs (which I saw happen to Klaus Nomi a few years ago at the Palladium, where the same guard is still employed), my journalistic response is always the same: dog bites man. Rock and roll is a rough game.

But now maybe the men should bite back. Over the past two years I've gotten more such complaints about the Ritz than about all other venues combined, and witnessed more privately funded police violence there myself as well. A Burning Spear concert was the worst--I saw three or four muscleheads gleefully beat up on a kid who'd broken a partition when they'd started dragging him out, while downstairs a friend watched a would-be line-jumper left dazed in a pool of his own blood. The Ritz makes much of its nonelitist door policy, and I'm in sympathy. But unless the club calls off its goons it will give all the snobs who refuse to go there--and there are more and more of them--just the excuse they need.

Apr. 25, 2005

Postscript Notes:

Manuscript, no publication information.