One of the more exciting ways to spend a night, is to go see your favorite band perform live at a local club. You then spend an hour deciding what to wear, wait two hours in line to make sure you can stand in the front, and when you get to the door, the bouncer asks you to leave as you are not yet 21. This is the reality of many clubs and venues in Greensboro, as well as around the country, and it’s a restriction which simply seems unnecessary.
The age restriction is about as old as live music venues themselves. While some gracious clubs hold all ages policies for bands, a large amount of clubs don’t allow those who can’t drink to enter the premises. While some brave individuals arm themselves with fake ID’s which can get them through the door, the majority of under-21 patrons simply have to wait for a birthday, or wait for the band to tour elsewhere.
This can be a major inconvenience for younger audiences, many of which have no interest in drinking at a venue, but rather want to see their favorite band. Younger audiences may be more inclined to buy merchandise as well, as many of them still have parents to help fund their expenditures than their full-time job holding counterparts. Even without alcohol, clubs can make a good amount of money from a young audience.
Alcohol and live music are often associated together, which isn’t entirely necessary. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a few drinks and enjoying a show, it isn’t what gigs are about. People don’t usually spend their hard earned cash at the local music venue just to get drunk, they do it to enjoy the musicians that they paid to see. Alcohol sales are important to clubs, but are not necessarily vital to the health of the clubs at large.
Many bars and clubs do rely heavily upon alcohol sales to fuel their business, however the covers to get into all ages or 18+ shows tend to be steep as it is. Customers who rank below the legal drinking age typically have to pay significantly more than their legally drinking friends. This means that the bars and clubs are still making money off of their clientele regardless of alcohol sales, especially if the show sells out. It could also mean less drunk and rowdy patrons at shows, assuming that underage patrons aren’t drinking prior to their arrival.
Selling alcohol to minors is a legitimate fear for businesses, as losing their liquor license could spell disaster for any venue. However, there are many ways to mark underage guests and to avoid this problem. Bars and clubs often use wristbands or mark X’s on the hands of patrons to avoid selling alcohol to minors. They can also ID customers at the bar at smaller shows, which are typically the venues which instate the 21+ rule in the first place.
Venues are not always the ones deciding to have such a high age limit on the particular shows. Often a band will ask the venue to establish the limit to have a more adult-oriented show, typically meaning a more drunk and rowdy one. Unruly crowds can be dangerous for patrons, and can create a liability for a club, especially if a minor gets hurt. Yet, patrons who are 18+ are legally responsible for their own welfare. Having slightly younger crowds could decrease the excessive drinking found at some of the rowdier shows.
Often the age requirement, whether established by the band or the venue, is to keep out young teeny-boppers who could create the wrong kind of rowdiness and bring trouble to shows. Younger audiences are, perhaps unfairly, associated with bad decisions and the kind of immaturity which you can only find in teenage dramas. Yet, younger audiences are typically no more rowdy and high energy than older patrons.
In truth, bringing in an 18+ crowd will bring in more ticket sales which benefits the band, as well as the venue which is hosting it. It can bring in a lot more exposure from a crowd who is likely to continue spending spare money on concerts rather than other forms of nightlife, as alcohol and concerts don’t necessarily have to be enjoyed together. It gives college aged students an option besides dance clubs to visit, without having to be intoxicated to enjoy the experience.
Clubs, bars and other live music venues should have a 18+ age requirement, rather than a 21+ one. While the desire for older crowds can be understandable due to liability issues, it doesn’t make sense to block out older audiences who are responsible for their own autonomy, and are willing to spend good money on a show. Music should be for everyone, and not solely patrons who can purchase alcohol at a venue.