Club tragedies

Nightclub tragedies in Chicago and Rhode Island have left students like Lakisha Thompson questioning whether Tallahassee’s local hot spots are safe.

“The club is just not what it used to be,” said the 20-year-old sophomore psychology student from New York. “You can’t be too careful these days.”

Charlie Banta, owner of Clyde’s and Costello’s located in Kleman Plaza, said that accurate security measures are taken at his establishment.

“The steps are well-lit leading to the entrances, and we make sure that the three exit areas and back stairwells are cleaned out during business hours,” he said.

Banta said five to six security guards patrol the crowds while two police officers guard the door during most club events.

The Department of Business and Professional Regulations issues guidelines to all business owners to make sure that their customers’ safety is a top priority according to the department’s website.

“The department says we can only hold 200 persons per a certain number of square feet,” said Banta. “We also have to have a certain amount of backup lighting in case the normal lighting inside goes out. Then there are, of course, certain health codes that deal with the bathrooms and the way we serve our drinks to our customers,” Banta said.

The band Great White held a concert at “The Station,” the Rhode Island nightclub that was destroyed Thursday. A blaze claimed 97 lives after the bands pyrotechnic show sprawled out of control.

Banta said that he does not allow light shows, or any performances that require electrical systems or fire.

Dave Quavillon, manager of Sloppy Joes’, said the DBPR sent a representative the day after the Rhode Island incident to ensure that the building was secure.

“They usually do monthly check ups, but they wanted to make sure that nothing like that would happen here in Tallahassee,” Quavillon said.

Quavillon said that Sloppy Joe’s has a staff of eight security guards. Two police officers work with fire marshals on Friday nights to ensure the number of people inside does not exceed the 750-person limit.

Quavillon said Sloppy Joe’s has fire extinguishers near both exits, although the chances of a fire are unlikely.

For some students, the nightclub tragedies haven’t made students fearful, but more responsible.

“You just have to make sure you’re aware of what’s going on around you, and be responsible for yourself and your own safety,” said Jonathan Grainger, 19, an economics student from Baltimore.

Aricka M. Foreman can be reached at