Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bar has a "no photography" sign -- a thrownback to the 50s, or a future trend?

Last night, after dinner at KammerBooks on Dupont Circle – this bookstore has to serve the function of Lambda Rising, which closed at the end of 2009, but it’s still going strong  -- I walked down P Street toward the West End Cinema and poked my head in to the Fireplace Bar out of curiosity.  It has been at the corner of 23rd and P for decades and I don’t go there often.
I saw a no photography sign at the entrance.  I don’t think I can recall seeing such a sign in a bar before.  The website doesn’t mention such a policy. 
However, I recall seeing a “no cell phone use” sign at the Eagle.  That may be the point of such a sign. In New York  City, at the Black Party in March 2012, I overheard announcers on the street telling attendees that they would have to turn in cell phones, as I walked past and went to a “free” party at the Therapy nearby in Hells Kitchen.  In 2011, in a popular bar and dance floor in Minneapolis called the Saloon, I noticed a no photography sign that appeared to apply only to the dancers in a wet stall.  It was interesting, though, that the dance floor was always enshrouded in artificial fog. In Dallas, at a bar called Suellen's  (on the Cedar Springs strip, in 2011), there is a sign warning about uncivil behavior, but I don't recall that it mentioned photography (which could hardly work because the place often has small rock and jazz concerts in place of a dance floor, next door at the Station 4).  
Photography has long been common at drag shows.  There is a general courtesy that people consent to appearing in “group” pictures taken in bars.  There is sometimes a belief that it you dance or show off on an elevated stage in a disco, or somehow deliberately attract attention you can expect to be noticed and photographed.  People in costumes expect to wind up in social media.  But since about mid 2011 or so, people have become more sensitive to simply appearing in random or targeted photos from strangers, probably because of increasing concerns over online reputation and possible tagging of photos in social media.  For several years before 2011, there seemed to be little concern over photo courtesy. That’s a little bit ironic, in fact, when you remember that the official repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” for military members occurred in 2011.
The sign at the entry of the Fireplace may be a throwback to the 1950’s, when people feared showing up in newspapers.  I “came of age” publicly in 1973, after the worst was over; but when I lived in Dallas, raids on bars to nab people occurred as late as 1980. 
The area around 23rd and P doesn’t seem as popular for clubs (the “Pop Stop” is there), with the loss of the Omega and Apex; activity seems to move East, toward U Street.

One other note about Kammerbooks. I bought a couple of policy books, and noticed with some glee a book called "An Unofficial Dictionary of Snark"

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