"Why don't you let the young people speak for themselves?"

So said Seattle City Council President Peter Steinbrueck to thirtysomething Stranger editor Dan Savage on Monday, April 8, after Savage asked Steinbrueck to repeal the Teen Dance Ordinance. (A pack of teens had just disrupted the weekly council meeting with a dance in council chambers.)

There are two incredibly annoying things about Steinbrueck's attempt to shut Savage down.

First, does Savage's age discount him from this debate about city policy? Following Steinbrueck's logic, teens should be the only ones with a say in city laws regarding teen dances. Hmmm? Perhaps Steinbrueck should resign his seat to a teenager--then maybe the TDO would get repealed.

Second, it was clear that Steinbrueck didn't want to hear from the teens anyway. Savage didn't start hollering until Steinbrueck railroaded underage protester and Stranger intern Brook Adam, who had asked if there would be a vote on the TDO. "Can't tell you," Steinbrueck responded.

After Savage relinquished the floor, the "conversation" between Steinbrueck and Adam went this way:

STEINBRUECK: "There is hope for your issues. It's been complicated by litigation."

ADAM: "But if the litigation could be declared moot by just passing the ordinance, and you support it...?"

STEINBRUECK: "Yeah, that's about all I can say at this point, so I thank you for coming today, and we're going to get on with the business of this council. Thank you."

Hmmm? Seems like Steinbrueck didn't actually want to hear from the young people after all. Well that's too bad, because they've got smart things to say. We've asked the aforementioned Brook Adam (a 20-year-old University of Washington senior) and Keenan Dowers (a 15-year-old rock and roller who was also at the protest) to speak their minds.--Josh Feit

Dear Mr. Steinbrueck,

If you're like me, you're already getting ill at the thought of stumbling through another article on the Teen Dance Ordinance (TDO). Trust me, a lot of Seattle is with you: This issue is old, old, old.

Myself, I've been hearing about the TDO for the last three and a half years, since I first moved to Seattle when I was 17. At the time, I was thrilled to leave the Eastside behind and dive into the cultural capital of the Northwest. But as I discovered, Seattle doesn't have any more all-ages clubs than, say, Redmond. In fact, Seattle kids were all raving about a club in Redmond and busing out for a good show there.

The reason for this, I learned, was the TDO. The TDO forces promoters to buy a million-dollar insurance bond and hire numerous off-duty police officers, neither of which are required at bars or other adult venues. Add some broad language about "dances" and "concerts" that encourages police to shut down clubs at will and presto--no teen scene!

So what's a kid to do? Me, I stopped going to shows. In 1999, Seattle had only two venues for all-ages concerts, and both closed that year, citing financial woes brought about by the TDO, among other things. For several months, Seattle had no regular all-ages nights. I moved on, whiling away my hours at keggers, house parties, and cafés. Good times, but I could do these things in my hometown of Duvall, Washington. For the underager, Seattle was no metropolis.

Some people in city hall agreed with me, and said the TDO had to go. In 1999, the city created a Youth and Music Task Force to reform the TDO. The task force proposed the All Ages Dance Ordinance (AADO), which promised to protect kids without bankrupting all-ages venues.

This proposal went before the city council, and the council blew me away by passing it. But Mayor Paul Schell shot it down in a fiery blaze of glory.

Okay, I thought, so much for that. But then we got youth-friendly Greg Nickels as our new mayor. Nickels, after some hemming and hawing, agreed to sign off on the AADO. After Nickels' election, every music-loving underager in Seattle drew his or her breath and... well, actually, that's where we are now.

Mr. Steinbrueck, this is where you come in: In order for Nickels to sign off on the revised ordinance, the city council has to pass it again.

So, um, what gives? From the look on your face last Monday when I and 20 other kids were dancing in city council chambers ["Dance Protest at City Hall," In Other News, April 11], I bet you're at least as sick of this rigmarole as I am. Could you pass the thing already so I could maybe see one good underage show (in Seattle) before I turn 21?


Brook Adam, UW Senior

Dear Mr. Steinbrueck,

One thing--the kids are always going to dance. It's just a matter of whether it is legal or not.

What lawmakers don't understand is that if a minor wants to go see live music, they will. Many go to such extremes as obtaining a fake ID, or even standing outside bars late at night to see their favorite bands. Kids are more determined to go out and dance than adults give them credit for.

After all, are we just supposed to sit around and watch the slurry that MTV feeds the youth of today? Am I supposed to patiently wait for the people in high political spots to take action?

Granted, there are a number of great all-ages clubs in the Seattle, but many are on life support because of the TDO. The only way to keep the all-ages scene running is to keep attending all-ages events and try and change this law.

My personal frustrations with the TDO lie in the fact that it's just not logical to me. The TDO says that no adults can go to an all-ages club, limiting concertgoers to 15- to 20-year-olds. What is so wrong about dancing and age-mixing?

Frankly, I have quite a few friends over the age of 18. I play in a mixed-age band, and I wouldn't change a thing.

The only way kids can deal with this is to take action: Try volunteering at the Vera Project and other all-ages clubs, or attending events that keep things like the Vera Project afloat.

Otherwise, maybe we'll be out in the streets again.


Keenan Dowers