Musicians playing gigs at all of Seattle's concert venues—from the Tractor Tavern to the Paramount Theatre—share a complaint: Why can't I enjoy a fucking drink while I'm performing?
"It really hurts goodwill with performers," explains Tractor owner Dan Cowan. "And it puts staff in the uncomfortable position of having to remove drinks and police that behavior."
But as bar and club owners repeatedly explain to musicians, comedians, and burlesque dancers, it's the law—a law uncommon in the United States. "We've always considered entertainers to be employees of venues, which means they can't be disorderly, appear intoxicated, or drink while onstage," says Anne Radford, a spokeswoman for the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB). The first violation results in a $500 fine or a five-day liquor license suspension. The fourth could cost a club its license. Radford says she doesn't know of any other state that enforces a similar law.
But the rules could change, thanks to a bowling alley and casino owner in Richland who filed a petition last spring to allow entertainers to drink on the job. On October 12, the WSLCB will hold a public hearing on the issue. Entertainers would have to drink from "nondescript" containers and refrain from promoting alcohol. These are caveats club owners can work with. "We're pretty self-policing," says Cowan.
For more information about how to change this idiotic rule, see Granted. The board will vote on the rule change on October 19.