When Prince George’s County Council Rep. Karen Toles (D-Suitland) led the fight three years ago to close nightclubs and strip bars in the county while banning dancing in restaurants and nightclubs that failed to get permits under a controversial law called CB-18; it was designed to curb violent crime which was often associated with Go-Go Music and late night partying.
In the months that has passed, the new law has essentially shut down dancing for a few select minority-owned businesses in the county, but for the most part, late night partying and Go-Go’s are a thing of the past in the county even though it has done little to curb violent crime as the law was intended to do.
The independent club owners have now taken their business to nearby jurisdictions such as Charles County, Montgomery County, and Northern Virginia. Some like, Doc Hayes, longtime owner of Club Elite in Oxon Hill, Md. and Martini’s in Fort Washington, Md. simply got out of the nightclub business.
In a county that is overwhelmingly Black for all intents and purposes, dancing is a thing of the past although you can still go to a place like Half Note in Glendale, Md.; Martinis in Fort Washington, Md.; Bay Street in New Carrollton, Md., or the VFW Post in Suitland to work up a good sweat. Fast Eddies and Infuse in Camp Springs, Md. have also become a popular spot for Go-Go Music and Hip Hop Entertainment.
It’s an interesting dynamic in a county where the King of Go-Go Chuck Brown once thrived and independent nightclub owners made a living with parties and special events. It’s all politics and to some degree racial, says Doc Hayes, former owner of Martinis and other successful nightclubs in the county for more than 20 years.
“Yes, things have changed,” Hayes said stoically. “It has narrowed the availability of Black-owned businesses. It hasn’t made the county any safer. There is no impact. Black-owned businesses, in particular, are easy targets.”
Local DJ “Supa” Dan Richardson, a member of D.C. Music, an organization dedicated to preserving Go-Go and Music in the Washington Metropolitan Area, says the pickings have become mighty slim when it comes to holding events in the county. “We lost 20 clubs. Have about four or five clubs. We have couple of places. Right now, you can’t find a venue. You need a lot of businesses to come back. Fast Eddies is the new kid on the block,” Richardson said. “They are the only new business that have come to the area. We haven’t been doing much in Maryland. I would like to compare the crime from then to now. We weren’t the problem. Crime has gotten a lot worse. “