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Platinum is proudly self-described as “[t]he most visually impressive club in Washington,” according to its Web site. And the F Street NW night spot has 19 black-clad bouncers —er, “customer service agents”— on hand every night to maintain that impressive appearance.
If and when a situation does arise—say, an intoxicated patron disturbs the visually impressive vibe—security personnel quickly step in, escort the offender away from the other guests, and offer him or her two options: (a) chilling out in Platinum’s exclusive “recovery room” or, as Jessica Owens and Lizzy Asvestas found out back on Feb. 15, (b) sleeping it off in the slightly less comfy alley out back.
At least that’s where Metropolitan Police Department Officer Louis Schneider found the two Germantown, Md., clubgoers at 2:15 a.m. that day. Owens was unconscious, according to the police report. A less deeply inebriated Asvestas told Schneider how they got there: According to his report, Owens “became heavily intoxicated” and “was then dragged out of the club by employees and left in the rear alley.”
Owens, 27, had to be taken to Howard University Hospital for treatment; as the report notes, “[t]he club employees never called for medical attention.” Nor did they call the police—though the cops did report the incident to the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA).
Owens later told ABRA investigator Charles Woolridge that she remembered dancing in the club when she started feeling dizzy and passed out, apparently falling into Asvestas’ arms. According to ABRA’s case report, “[a] few minutes later, two bouncers, one who identified himself as a police officer, came over and grabbed them by the arms and put them out of the club through the back door.”
Platinum owner Abdul Khanu told Woolridge he was unaware of the incident. But the club’s Alcoholic Beverage Control–licensed manager, Deen Maweyia, explained to the investigator that the women had “refused the intox room” and “therefore, the patrons were put out of the club.” (Neither Khanu nor Maweyia could be reached for comment.)
Apparently, this kind of forced back-door exit was standard procedure at Platinum. In the report, Khanu told the investigator that “security staff offers the intox room to all patrons but if the person refuses, they are taken out of the club through the nearest door.” And the club has only two doors: front and back. The back door is the one closer to the intox room.
The fact that Platinum even offers a intox room comes as news to Masoud Aboughaddareh, the club’s promoter until 2001. “During the time that I was there,” he says, “we didn’t have a detox room. What we did if somebody got too drunk or got in a fight, we just kicked them out through the back.”
The heavily intoxicated are handled a lot differently over at Dream nightclub on Okie Street NE, where Aboughaddareh now runs events on Thursday and Saturday nights: All fitshaced and/or fighting patrons are taken to the detox room, which the club also calls its “care center.”
“We don’t kick anybody out immediately,” says Aboughaddareh. “If you do something wrong, detox is the next stop. Security is there. They make a report; they take pictures; they make you sign the report so it’s accurate. We have medical people back there taking care of people, and that’s where we decide whether they need assistance. Can they drive? If they can’t drive, we take their keys and we call a cab for them. The next day, they can come pick up their car. And to a certain extent, if it’s necessary, we bring in the cops. That way the liability is off our hands.”
And liability is certainly an issue when patrons get too drunk. “If you’ve served an intoxicated person, and let’s say that person got into a car and killed somebody, you could be on the hook for it,” says Jeff Coudriet, ABRA’s director of operations. Selling alcohol to “an intoxicated person, or any person who appears to be intoxicated” is a violation of D.C. Code—which is exactly what ABRA investigator Woolridge cited Platinum for after the alley incident. “Based on all available evidence,” he concluded, “the Platinum Nightclub served alcoholic beverages to an intoxicated person and permitted an intoxicated person to possess and/or consume an alcoholic beverage.”
Such violations can result in the club’s being fined. The club could also have its license suspended or even revoked.
But Platinum received none of the above punishments. Instead, on July 28, D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board ordered the club to turn in “a complete written security plan,” outlining “conduct and operational guidelines for bouncers and security; how intoxicated patrons are handled; plans to professionalize the security team; and the type of training to be provided to security personnel with regard to the treatment of patrons.”
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Last week, Platinum presented the board with a draft of that plan, prepared by its attorney, Dimitri P. Mallios. “We have increased our security, incorporated the incident into our training to prevent re-occurrence, and learned how to be better prepared in the future,” the document states.
And the part about the treatment of patrons? In the future, it seems, Platinum will be sticking to its intox-room-or-else strategy: “In the event that an incident involves an intoxicated guest there is a recovery room (‘Room’) available for them to rest,” the plan reads.
If you decline, well, you still get kicked out—only now, those customer service agents might actually let somebody know about it: “If a guest refuses to use the Room they are asked to leave the Club and are turned over to a police officer to be aware of the situation and to help ensure this guest a safe trip home.”
For all his ranting about “bad” art projects in the District this past year, Washington Post critic Blake Gopnik hasn’t actually done much to stop them. In fact, the Oxford University–educated art historian has done just the opposite.
To wit: Last spring, Gopnik ripped the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities’ “exciting public art project,” PandaMania. In fact, he likened the task of painting blank panda statues to filling in a coloring book. “It would take a really skilled contemporary artist to turn a coloring book into something worth an art lover’s time,” Gopnik wrote in a May 30 Post critique. “There probably aren’t more than a half-dozen artists in this city who could do it.”
Oh, but Bethesda, Md., painter Marsha Stein thought she could find a few. So she formally challenged Gopnik to hand-pick a team of artists to compete against hers. Each team would paint a blank two-foot cube, with the public voting on the best one.
Gopnik politely declined the challenge. But that didn’t stop Stein: Her project has since evolved into a multiteam competition—albeit sans cubes—that D.C. filmmaker Nigel Parkinson is shooting for a documentary. Or maybe a reality-TV show.
“He just pushes people’s buttons,” Stein says of Gopnik. “He does my job for me. He couldn’t have fueled this competition any better than by writing that article.”
More recently, Gopnik issued a scathing critique of Artomatic 2004, the exhibition of works by some 600 area artists now showing in the former Capital Children’s Museum. In a Nov. 11 Post piece, he called the show “the second-worst display of art I’ve ever seen. The only one to beat it out, by the thinnest of split hairs, was the 2002 Artomatic, which was worse only by virtue of being even bigger and in an even more atrocious space.
“Artomatic isn’t only good for nothing,” Gopnik concluded. “It’s bad for art that matters.”
Again, artists responded. For starters, there’s The Official Artomatic 2004 Boo Blake Wall, an installation papered with angry letters from Artomatic exhibitors and dotted with Travis Miller– designed stickers that read: “Blake isn’t only good for nothing. He’s bad for art that matters.” And sculptor Mark Jenkins has posted a phony news story reporting
Gopnik’s kidnapping by “human figures made of packaging tape.” The wall is also splashed with red paint, some of which drips down into a plastic bag taped to the ground. “Somebody said it looks like bullet holes and blood,” notes Artomatic executive-committee member Jim Tretick.
A less ominous homage to Gopnik appears at Artomatic’s Overlook Bar: A case of warm beer wrapped in white paper and labeled “One vintage case of Icehouse from Artomatic 2002: The worst beer from the worst show.”
“That case of beer has been sitting in my basement for two years,” says Tretick. “We were saving it for a special occasion.”
Right beside the beer is a brand-new Clue game wrapped in a plastic bag for Gopnik. And the artists aren’t done yet. McLean, Va.–based graphic designer Jesse Thomas is now putting the finishes touches on a new collage inspired by Gopnik.
The tributes to Gopnik come as news to the critic. “I didn’t know about any of the Artomatic responses,” he writes via e-mail. Gopnik’s own response? Something in Latin about judges and matters of taste: “De gustibus non…I guess.”
Price Club: Stretching your dollar at D.C.’s night spots
Venue: Andalu, 1214 18th Street NW
Item: One jeroboam of Perrier-Jouët Reserve Belle Epoque champagne
Cost: $2,500 plus tax and 18 percent gratuity
Set yourself apart from the rest of D.C.’s jet set—and party like it’s 1999 all over again. This 3.03-liter jeroboam of Perrier-Jouët Reserve Belle Epoque is just one of only 2,000 bottles—No. 1421, in fact—of the vintage 1995 bubbly released just in time for turn-of-the-millennium celebrations four years ago.
As you “[o]verdose on glitz and fabulous music” in a dimly lit private booth adorned with ornate pillows, you’ll squint with appreciation at the intricate artwork on the bottle: Decorated with gilded anemones, the “[h]and painted 24 karat Gold label,” according to the club’s Web site, was designed by art-nouveau glassmaker Emile Gallé. And comes in its own “Custom Cherry Wood Box.”
And after its stunning presentation, you can rest assured that no one else among “the most interesting and mysterious crowd in Washington” will top you. The club has only one bottle, after all, which it shares with Sesto Senso restaurant upstairs.
Better to order it down in the nightclub, though: Upstairs, according to the menu, No. 1421 would cost a whopping $1,000 more.
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