Is the War on Fun over, or do we still need to fight for our right to party?

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Past crackdowns on nightlife have created spirited Entertainment Commission hearings.
Steven T. Jones

On Monday, the Entertainment Commission brings together a slew of City folk and party people at its fourth annual Nightlife Industry Summit. The three-hour affair includes speeches from Police Chief Greg Suhr, Sup. Scott Weiner, and perhaps Mayor Ed Lee, as well as a panel of speakers, and break-out sessions where club owners, security officers, and outdoor event planners can respectively brainstorm, said commission director Jocelyn Kane.

Past summits have resulted in legislation and policy changes, Kane said, pointing to loitering laws and Sup. David Chiu's parking lot security legislation last year. This year, Kane thinks there aren't any pressing problems to address or big controversies that have roiled the commission in past years.

"There's very little violence and our security staff is much more professionalized than they've ever been," she said. "For me, it's a year when we can raise the bar in terms of programming inside venues and diversifying the patron experience."

Club owners and event producers will have some free time to swap tips when the structured portion of the day ends. Kane thinks all neighborhoods should attempt to mimic the Mission, where the wide variety of venues allows a partyer to buy a "big fat martini at Blondies, roll down and eat a burritto, and catch some music at the Elbo Room" as opposed to those who spend the evening on Broadway, where "everyone's offering the same thing."

Though Kane couldn't identify any negative issues on the Summit's agenda, Opel event producer Syd Gris has plenty of grievances he plans to address on Monday. Gris, who will be speaking on the panel for the first time, said what the Guardian coined as the "War on Fun" in 2006 wages on in 2012.

Gris plans to bring up June's Opulent Temple Massive on Treasure Island, which was designed to be for visitor aged 18 and over, but the San Francisco Police Department captain that oversaw the event insisted it only allow in those of drinking age, "despite ample precedence of events in the city being 18 and over.”

"For them to deny us the ability to do something that happens all the time in the city just because one captain didn't like it was unfair and had a huge economic impact," Gris said. "It's a great example of what's wrong with how certain things work in the city. Arbitrary decisions that are inconsistent, unfair, and have a deleterious impact on an event producer can be made by small groups of people."

His was not a stand alone experience, but part of a broader, Gris said. The mellow Fillmore Jazz Festival had to have beer gardens for the first time this year, Power to the Peaceful was cancelled last September, as was LovEvolution this year after the SFPD places onerous restrictions on it.

"I am certainly glad that the conversation is happening with people that need to be hearing about it," Gris said of the Summit. "Will a real change come out of it? I'm not optimistic but I certainly hope so."

The event -- held in the Main Library's Koret Auditorium -- is free and open to the public, so come fight for your right to party 1-4pm. 

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