Watching Pageler get up from her seat and chase 24-year-old guitarist Rocky Votolato around the floor of Capitol Hill's Miller Community Center--her arms outstretched like Frankenstein, grasping at air trying to get the singer to stop thumping out an acoustic version of an old Elvis Costello rock number, while 70-plus kids clapped and danced--was the saddest, funniest, and most embarrassing moment in Pageler's irrelevant attempt to block a mayor-endorsed repeal of the Teen Dance Ordinance (TDO). Indeed, Pageler organized the meeting, but her opponents far outnumbered Pageler's pathetic showing. The Stranger organized a teen-dance protest, and 100 angry teenagers (some with their parents!) showed up and shut down Pageler's Monday, May 13 meeting for a 10-minute dance break.
"Okay, young people," Pageler said mid-conniption fit. "We know you can dance. Thank you. There will be a 10-minute recess!"
Pageler, however, was the only one who took a break. Votolato (an indie rock singer/songwriter) kept playing while Pageler attempted to wrest his guitar away from him and teens danced. Keenan Dowers, a 15-year-old Vera Project member, topped off the performance with a statement pointing out that Pageler's meeting was "unnecessary"--there'd already been an 18-month public process, and both the mayor and a majority of council members are on the record in support of replacing the TDO with the All Ages Dance Ordinance (AADO).
Pageler's meeting, touted as a step toward "saving teens from commercial exploitation," failed.
For starters, there were more teens than parents at the meeting. A group of kids from the Vera Project (a city-funded all-ages club in the International District) showed up early to pass out their homemade posters--Osama bin Laden wagging his finger with the phrase "No Goddamn Dancing!" By the time Margaret "Taliban" Pageler showed up, it was standing room only. Teens took up two-thirds of the seats, and were standing three deep around the room.
Pageler's panel was a disgrace. She invited folks from downtown, the north end, Pioneer Square, and Central District community groups, plus crime prevention groups and representatives from the King County Prosecutor's office. A lot of the neighborhood gripes were off-point, running the gamut from Pioneer Square street noise problems to Mardi Gras violence.
Meanwhile, everyone (except the lone Vera Project rep who squeezed his way onto the panel) told horror stories of kids being kidnapped from clubs, preyed on by older folks, going out to the parking lot to do drugs, and nearly dying at shows.
Thurston Muskelly, a Central Neighborhood District Council member, said he was "very upset" with the teens' dance protest.
"I was in the Korean War," Muskelly said. "Is this what I was fighting for?"
"Yeah! It's freedom of speech!" someone yelled from the crowd.
"I don't care anything about your freedom of speech," Muskelly retorted, earning himself a round of boos.
Time after time, Pageler and her panel was upstaged by the 100 passionate and pissed-off kids she didn't invite: They flustered her with dancing, spoke more eloquently than her panel, and even stayed until the end to clean up.