There’s always been an undeniable tension between New York City’s music and club scene and the residents of the city itself. Until recently, the wall-rattling paradises of drink, dance, and play were relatively confined to Manhattan. It was part of what kept that pulsating energy alive in the city itself, and it was perhaps somewhat expected that if you move to the city, you were signing up to bask in that thriving bustle. But now, with rising rent and the ever expanding tendrils of gentrification snaking it’s way through the outer boroughs, club culture and the noise it drags with it have found themselves set up out in the residences, to become a headache to those who had left—or had never made their way to—the city, seeking to escape that very scene.
How does the city navigate these waters? Should it restrict the nightlife that continues to make New York one of the primary sources of culture in the nation? Can it afford to leave its populace, the ones already needing to fight to keep their homes and their jobs, to a loss of sleep?
Now, NYC Council Member Rafael L Espinal Jr., who was integral to the repeal of the stifling and discriminatory Cabaret Laws, has introduced a bill that he hopes will make peace between the two. The Agent of Change legislation, forms of which London and Melbourne have already adopted, requires any new residential developments to have soundproofing installed in the units. New nightlife establishments opened near residences will be required to follow suit. “My Agent of Change bill brings nightlife, an important part of our City’s cultural fabric, into decisions being made about city planning,” Espinal said of the new bill. “When nightlife venues start to move into residential communities, neighbors often find themselves moving away because of frustration with how loud the venues can get. This bill is going to mend fences between neighbors, and further our effort to create an environment that allows both communities to thrive.” With Brooklyn the certifiable hotspot for all things loud and “cool,” despite being mostly residential, this new bill will hopefully allow the two to live harmoniously—pushing the bounds of all things cultural while maintaining a respect to those that have to live through the noise, waking up early the next day, off to another day of work.
Read our profile of Rafael Espinal and the others who worked to repeal the Cabaret Laws.