Little more than a month after a similar event resulted in a near-riot with city police, Albany officials decided earlier this week to give the owners of the Washington Avenue Armory another chance, allowing them to stage tonight the “Masquerave” party that was canceled just after the Oct. 18 incident. Armory and city officials have since established new rules and procedures aimed at controlling the substantial crowds that attend these events, and we hope they’re effective. Certainly if they’re not, it will be time for the city to pull the plug on them.
We have to admit we’re skeptical that precautions of this sort can do much to keep events like these from spinning out of control. The 1 a.m. curfew city officials imposed for weekend parties (midnight for weekdays) wouldn’t have done much on Oct. 18; the incident that resulted in three cops getting injured took place around 10 p.m.
Reportedly, it started when large crowds that had gathered to get into the “foam party” were held outside and grew impatient. The Armory’s owners say they’ll open doors earlier and enable patrons to pick up their tickets ahead of time, which should help ease that problem.
But a limit imposed by the city of 2,100 people on the armory floor won’t do much: Only 2,000 reportedly attended the “foam party.” And the rule may backfire if it antagonizes any remaining patrons who will have to watch all the fun from the armory’s bleachers.
A big part of the problem with these events is the people who attend them: Many show up intoxicated (even though they’re under-age); thus controlling them can be a real challenge. If the armory’s security force shows it can’t do so peacefully tonight, or at any point in the future, then the parties have to go. They’re not only dangerous to the patrons, but the noise and mess they create in nearby neighborhoods is unfair to their residents.
In Schenectady, where a similar brawl — highlighted by two stabbings — took place last Saturday at the Club XI on North Broadway, city officials responded with a no-nonsense approach, getting the State Liquor Authority to pull the club’s license for 30 days. That may be the right message to send to the operator of any venue that attracts large numbers of people who repeatedly demonstrate an inability to behave themselves.