To quote my own novel: “It’s so wack and it happens all the time: places get hip on the strength of their nightlife and independent vibe then corporate types move in and make it mediocre faster than it takes a Starbucks chump to drink his frappé.”
The novel is set in the US, where big cities have cool neighbourhoods sprinkled all over the place. They might start out grimey, with abandoned warehouses and disused factories just waiting to be converted into lofts and clubs. A couple of years down the track and more people start moving in, then independent businesses that match the tone, then finally businesses that want a piece of the action but don’t want to pay the price: noisy bars, clubs and a wayward street life. Before long all that’s gone and you’re left with another sanitised, gentrified district.
In Auckland, we don’t have many areas with a thriving nightlife. I’ve heard there are some bars and clubs on the Shore but I never go there. Gig guides usually mention one or two places out in Pakuranga. Ponsonby and Parnell have loads of restaurants, cafes and boutique bars. But most of our nightclubs (what few are left) are in the city or, of course, K Rd.
Queen St and K Rd don’t look particularly enticing late at night, with drunk cretins crawling about looking for a dime or a fight or someone to holler at. But these people don’t tend to be attending one of the venues where you pay to hear specialist musicians ply their trade. Maybe a DJ or a band, maybe local, national, or international: the music is the main drawcard.
It takes just one resident or one business to call noise control but the ramifications can be huge. It starts with fines, then expensive gear gets confiscated, then you run the risk of being shut down if you don’t take drastic measures to meet the complainant’s tolerance level.
But if we play a quick numbers’ game, how many people would enjoy a nightclub on a typical night, and how many people depend on the income they gain from working in one? Then consider how many people live in the apartment building, or occupy the business that’s got the issue. Why don’t the complainants choose somewhere else to live or set up shop? What do they expect when they’re located smack in the heart of a famed nightlife district?
The council should come on board with the K Rd and City venues which are providing a legitimate public service, and tell residents and business owners that noise comes with the territory and they can like it or leave.