Dateline Fort Lauderdale...
Nine people were arrested on Friday, February 11, 2000, at the gay dance
club Lord’s ‘Knightclub’, which advertised only last week in HotSpots!
that they were adding ‘chicken’ to their ‘beef’. “Young Dancers,” their
ad read, “Wanted.” Apparently, law enforcement thought so too.
The club, located at 4200
North Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale had only opened in December of
1999, in the same location where Moby Dick’s and Russell’s had failed.
On Friday, six male dancers, two patrons, and one bartender were hauled
off in handcuffs and booked into the Broward County jail on charges of
indecent exposure, lewd and lascivious acts, and serving alcohol to minors.
The customers were charged
with fondling and masturbating dancers, the bartender with serving a minor,
and the dancers with committing lewd acts. If history is a pattern,
like 825 and the Haymarket before it, the club faces charges against its
liquor license for allowing a series of illegal acts to occur within its
doors. The state agency responsible for supervising alcoholic beverage
licenses is the Department of Alcohol, Beverage, and Tobacco.
While nominal fines are generally
imposed for first time violators who serve alcohol to minors, more serious
sanctions can be imposed for knowingly allowing illegal activity. In most
undercover operations, police observe thealleged illegal activity
for a number of weeks before actually conducting a raid.
The undercover officers apparently
entered Lord’s Knightclub after witnessing illegal activities occurring
in their presence. Fort Lauderdale has an extremely strict law that
bars dancers from touching customers, exposing themselves, specified sexual
areas, or coming into contact with patrons. Additionally, all dancing
must be on a specially constructed stage set aside for that purpose, with
dimensional requirements to prevent direct contact with patrons.
Upon raiding the bar, police
ordered the music shut off, the lights raised, and had all the dancers
line up on stage. All but two of the patrons were asked to leave.
The officers advised the
owner, Skylar McGee that his dancers were breaking the law. He reportedly
stated that : “We are running a cleaner show than most clubs. A lot
of our dancers just did not know all the rules. This seems wholly
unfair.” Police officials scoffed at the remark. : “This is a licensed
alcoholic beverage establishment and the rules are well known to them as
they have been to others. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”
Male strip clubs in Fort
Lauderdale have been met with strong opposition from the gay community
and law enforcement. In June of 1999, the Haymarket on Federal Highway
was raided and shut down permanently, with a score of arrests that included
drug dealing. Before that, the once popular 825 on East Sunrise
Blvd. was raided and charged with health code violations, fire violations,
and numerous illegal acts by dancers. Its owner, Ed Cosman, was convicted
of allowing lewd activity on the premises, and ordered to pay a fine.
The club never reopened. In both instances, various gay leaders of
local civic associations supported the law enforcement activity.
“We have not had any problems
at Lord’s with our neighbors,” Skylar reportedly told the police.
But law enforcement officials pointed out that Lord’s borders residential
properties and would have to follow the law, “just like any straight club.
They just flaunted the law. ” Officers involved in the raid in fact pointed
out that neighbors had complained frequently about loud music and noises
at the club.
As the Express went to press,
names of the arrestees were unavailable. The club, however,
was not shut down by Alcohol, Beverage and Tobacco agents. After
the raid, it remained open as customers gathered at the piano bar, comisserating
together about the law enforcement activity. “It was scary, scary,
scary,” said one patron, who refused to be identified. “We came to watch
young men strip, not be strip-searched,” he joked.
Send your editorials to Publisher@expressgaynews.com