The line to get inside takes an eternity. Women shiver in their
club outfits as a night of dancing makes them more than willing to
suffer the elements. Legal drinkers complain to one another about
“losing their buzz,” and 50 Cent echoes from within.
That’s right, it’s 18-and-up night at the local clubs.
Numerous establishments throughout Fort Collins have taken
advantage of the highly demanded and lucrative market for night
owls who can’t legally drink. Long lines and cover charges have
made more and more club owners consider opening their doors to the
under-21 crowd, but the repercussions of allowing an18-and-up night
can carry a heavy price.
“I’ve got my life savings in this club,” said Tad Buonamici,
owner of Club Osirus, which opened last November. “I opened the
doors to the kids, giving them an upscale place to come to, and
they just destroyed the place. They were drinking in the parking
lots, bringing alcohol inside my club and vandalizing the
decorations inside. I got tickets for underage consumption and
On nights when a large amount of patrons are under the legal
drinking age, it can be nearly impossible to prevent both the
illegal consumption and purchasing of alcohol.
Underage drinkers consume 19.7 percent of all the alcohol sold
in the United States and without sales to underage drinkers,
consumer expenditures on beer alone would drop $17.2 billion,
according to a recent article from the National Center on Addiction
and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.
“We made a third of our revenue each week just on 18-and-up
nights,” Buonamici said. “We only hold around 300, but one Thursday
around 500 people were let in … and the line at the front door
was still huge.”
With such a significant number of Fort Collins’ population under
the age of 21, it would seem foolish for any club not to cater to
their presence. There are, however, many negative situations that
can arise during underage nights, including the possible retraction
of one’s liquor license because of club-goers who choose to drink
“I knew that the 18-and-up nights wouldn’t work out,” Bounamici
said. “I’d rather just permit those who come to enjoy themselves
and dance, not to cause trouble.”
Osirus was very successful at attracting a large crowd on its
18-and-up nights but recently has decided to cancel such future
events partially due to drawing in legal trouble caused by underage
Many other establishments think that Osirus’s situation could
have been avoided had proper security precautions been taken.
“We haven’t really had any problems with (alcohol) tickets. We
have a genuine concern for the safety of our underage patrons,”
said Chuck Jonz, co-owner of Suite 152. “We have different hand
stamps for under 21, added security on 18-and-up nights and wrist
bands … if anyone is even suspected of breaking the rules,
they’re kicked out immediately.”
For seven years, Suite 152 has hosted18-and-up nights with very
few problems. Many other clubs haven’t shared this same
“It’s really tough to hold a liquor license in this city,”
Buonamici said. “Whenever a club is doing really well, there are
always people looking for reasons to stop it.”
Other Osirus representatives said they share this opinion and
blame local law enforcement for the failure of the 18-and-up
“The county has made it apparent that they do not appreciate the
Thursday night at Osirus,” said Bryan Weiman, Northern Colorado
Promotional Manager and Osirus house DJ. “Thursday night admitted a
ratio of 70 percent over 21 to 30 percent underage. Despite the
club’s best efforts to keep the 30 percent from causing problems,
the younger patrons appeared to be too much of a strain on the
county’s law enforcement.”
Despite setbacks such as this, local clubs are still developing
plans for underage nights. The Avenue, for example, experimented
with its first 18-and-up night last Tuesday.
“The most important thing will just be to police the crowd
correctly. We have some of the best security in town,” said Farshad
Nojoumi, co-owner of The Avenue. “If you’re under 21 and leave for
whatever reason, you’re not getting back in.”
The added security and other necessary precautions that clubs
are forced to endure during underage nights are far from cheap, but
tickets for offenses such as providing for minors, underage
consumption and over-serving, can cost club owners substantial
amounts of cash as well.
But still there’s something about the 18-and-up nights that
makes it all worthwhile.
“With a decrease in age comes an increase in energy,” Jonz said.
“Having the underage crowd out on the dance floor creates a lot of
positive body energy. It gets the night moving much quicker.”