Blue Haze of Doom

Sunday night, I met with some friends over at Chuy's. (Link to flashturbated web site mercifully omitted.) We were meeting with an out-of-town visitor, who was going to be sitting in with Guy Forsyth later that night. He was going to try to get us on the guest list.

Is this shaping up to be the perfect Austin evening or what?

The show was at Antone's and it started out great. They had plenty of tables out, there was room to dance and Shiner was on special. Guy was cooking. Best of all, the ceiling fans were churning, moving the air about, keeping the smoke to a tolerable level.

Then, midway through the first set, I started getting a headache and my eyes began stinging. I looked up and--oh oh!--they shut off the fans. The air was still and the club was filling with thick, hazy blue smoke.

We probably should have left, but our friend hadn't been on stage yet. When I asked the waitress if the fans could be turned back on, she said the smokers were complaining they were making the place too cold. I explained it was making me sick. Unfortunately, Austin clubs don't really care much for their non-smoking patrons.

So we waited it out, our friend finally went on, did two numbers, and kicked some rock-n-roll ass. Moments after he strummed the closing chord of his last song, the non-smoking half of our group was out the door and off for environs less smoky.

Up until last night, I had mixed feelings about extending the city's non-smoking ban to clubs. Not anymore. I now see clubs such as Antone's are not going to show consideration for their non-smoking guests unless it's legislated. Just as we needed laws to legislate access for the handicapped, we need to legislate access for non-smokers.

I've always been concerned that prohibiting smoking might hurt the business. Well, screw that. Regardless of whether it's due to toxic blue haze or a boarded up front door, the result is the same: I can't listen to music. On the other hand, maybe the non-smokers returning to the clubs would offset any losses.

Either way, I pretty much don't care. When a club such as Antone's can't do something so simple as run the fans, it's clear non-smokers won't breathe easy until an ordinance is in place.

Comments

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re: Blue Haze of Doom

I appreciate people who want to ban smoking, and it's probably inevitable, but in this case wouldn't your concerns be quelled by regulation on ventilation?

I've been to some places that have such great ventilation that if someone two seats next to me is smoking, I can't smell a thing. If all bars had decent ventilation, they wouldn't become these smoky deathtraps you describe.

re: Blue Haze of Doom

Thanks for your comments, Chip! I couldn't agree more. I've had the same experience in Antone's and most other clubs in Austin. As a result, I don't go out as much as I want to because I dread breathing secondhand smoke.

I shouldn't have to sacrifice my health to go out in public. More importantly, secondhand smoke is a serious workers health issue. No worker shoould be exposed to that polluted air night after night.

I support a 100 percent smoke-free ordinance in Austin because everyone should have equal access to public places and workers should not sacrifice their health for a paycheck.

Owning property does not give you the right to hurt people that's why we regulate business on food quality and fire safety. We should mandate clean indoor air as well.

Smokers are the minority. If they don't like taking a few steps outside to smoke at a club, they can stay home.

But my hunch is that smoking outside is a minor inconvenience and most smokers are respectful enough to understand that their habit hurts others and noone has that right.

Smokers will continue to go out just like they go to movies and fly in airplanes and the 75 percent of the population that doesn't smoke will come out in droves to enjoy Austin's nightlife without the cancer-causing toxins.

Thanks again for your comments, Chip!

To support a smoke-free Austin visit smokefreeaustin.org.

re: Blue Haze of Doom

I can understand the urge to ban smoking, but I don't view that choice as a really a viable solution. It's an extreme response to temporary environmental discomforts, much like the ongoing battle over Austin noise ordinances. While I appreciate your sentiment, comparing access for non-smokers to handicapped patrons is not a valid comparison. By leaving the bar, you are making a choice to depart - but you were never denied access. Still, here's hoping Antone's keeps the fans spinning next time.

re: Blue Haze of Doom

Jeremy - if an air handling system can produce the desired effect, that's great with me. I understand, however, those systems are really expensive. I've seen too many clubs that won't pay to replace a blown speaker cone. I doubt they would (or could) install one of these.

re: Blue Haze of Doom

While I've always been a rock-ribbed non-smoker and semi-enthusiastic music-club patron, I've always been willing to put up with the smoke and to leave bars as a "smoke-full zone." Once in a while it does get to me, yes.

I've actually been pretty impressed by the smoke scrubbers that many bars seem to have these days. It's a shame that Antone's apparently didn't have enough/any.