The Social back in business — for now

Troubled E Olive Way dance club The Social has won a battle with the state’s liquor control board. The war still awaits.

In a ruling made Thursday morning, the club has won a temporary restoration of its liquor license into early March allowing it to reopen this weekend. The Social has been closed since last weekend after the last in a series of temporary licenses expired and the club had thus far been rebuffed in its attempts to secure its permanent license to serve alcohol.

CHS reported earlier this week that The Social’s management sued the state to win its right to serve to serve liquor and is claiming damages of $75,000 for every weekend the club is closed. Meanwhile, CHS has learned that the state and city officials have collected information about the noise from the club and an October shooting incident outside The Social. The liquor board is also looking at possible discrepancies in the licensing application information submitted by The Social’s management.

The temporary license will cover the club until a March hearing on its case against the state, a liquor board representative tells CHS.

The news of the reopening will likely not be popular with many neighbors of The Social who have taken to the CHS comments to complain further about the noise and crowds outside the club. However, organizers of this weekend’s Academy Awards party to benefit Three Dollar Bill Cinema and Gay City Health planned to be held at The Social can now breathe a sigh of relief that their event won’t be further complicated by a last-minute scramble

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35 thoughts on “The Social back in business — for now

  1. This is very disappointing news. Just as my stress level as a neighbor for living next door has started to get back to normal, this news and the photo accompanying this post have raised it to astronomical levels again. That photo says it all: 600 or so people crammed into a building set amongst five residential buildings. Oh the reverberating bass which prevents sleep. Oh the yelling and the screaming, vomit, and noise from un-social, inebriated and jacked up people who clearly don’t live on the hill and come here only for fun neighborhood be damned. Oh the inconsiderate and obnoxious management of The Social who has clearly shown poor business judgement and is an ill-considered neighbor. Oh the traffic blocking crowds and the honking horns as people try to navigate around the congestion.

    It is clearly time that this city and others across the country with similar situations find a way to separate residential life from social/nightlife. I am not a nightlife person and I have no problems with people that do. However there needs to be due consideration for all types of people and find ways that we can both co-exist. Unfortunately this location is the worst-case scenario.

    I look forward to supporting efforts on all levels to get The Social closed down and out of business, at least at this location because it is inappropriate for the type business and clientele it serves.

  2. I’m all for nightlife, but The Social needs to figure out what do to with the mass influx of cars that clogs Olive. Valet parking along the road is ridiculous and causes huge traffic jams on weekend nights. Divert your traffic somewhere that isn’t a main road and keep stupid people from wandering into the traffic while they’re waiting outside!

  3. Firstly, the temp licensen is only good until March 4th. The Social won this judgment on technicalities only. Secondly, the reason The Social got their permanent license denied is because they knowingly misrepresented information about their business on their liquor license application. This type of behavior indicates the type of business that the owners are running. A business that does not deserve the right to continue operating and disrupting the lives of so many Cap Hill residents.

  4. The Oscar event for this weekend was not in jeopardy. They will be operating under Three Dollar Bill’s liquor license not The Social’s. The Social donated their location but the liquor and sales will all be from the sponsor.

  5. I don’t believe this is a location issue, I believe this is a pompous ownership group that doesn’t care about the neighborhood and doesn’t want to spend the money they need to in order to make this club work in a dense residential neighborhood. Why don’t you get rid of the outdoor deck area and use that as an area to keep your crowds off the public sidewalk? Very simple common sense solutions.

    But at this point, these owners have outlived their welcome. I live around the corner from this club and am fed up. I’m willing to do what it takes to get this ownership group out of that space.

    Maybe we should all picket this club on Friday/Saturday and Sunday to make it clear that they are no longer welcome on our block? Anyone with me? If enough people are willing to spend the weekend with me getting this club shut down I’ll post a way to get in touch.

  6. There is some separation between residential life and nightlife, but that area on/around olive isn’t it.

    even a few blocks north or East is a huge improvement if you need quiet at night.

    That said, i don’t really like going to clubs. I just disagree that the Social is in an inappropriate location.

  7. Maybe it’s time that you look for a new place to live. I mean I don’t care for the Social, but Olive like Pike and Pine is an area for Bars/Restaurants and other retail establishments. This is a growing city and the Hill is changing fast to keep up with the demands of its people. Complaining about does little. You have a choice where you live. Now with that said I think the Social needs to do a better job at noise control and end their stupid valet parking which blocks traffic.

  8. So many ignorant comments on your last post about The Social. It’s a shame that whomever writes this blog clearly has a vested interest in seeing not only The Social fail, but to see other venues succeed (which has nothing to do with The Social’s issues). It’s not hard for me understand complaints about noise, but to say that The Social’s management and staff haven’t taken every single complaint seriously is just completely FALSE. The owners are in fact working with both condominium owners and apartment renters with noise meters as well as preparing to install a new roof to further dampen any sound leaks.

    The reason that they have a lengthy line at times is that the security team takes the proper time that it takes to make sure that the wrong people are turned away and that the people that come to have a good time and be a part of the dance community and culture are safe. As far as when they leave at 1:45 A.M., people out on the side walks and getting in cabs, etc is nothing new, anywhere that has a bar/nightlife community. People must be able to leave and go home at their own pace accord.

    The Social has experienced a very quick growth in popularity and with that comes some growing pains, which the owners and staff have worked tirelessly to deal with. I can guarantee you that if the neighbors would be courteous to the staff and owners that the complaints about noise and trash would not be taken lightly. Capitol Hill is in fact NOT the setting for the movie Footloose. It’s a melting pot of everything that is good in Seattle. It’s loud at times, dirty at times and most definitely DIVERSE, especially on the weekends! So to have the comments and broad sweeping statements out of anger from some of the readers and replies on here is BEYOND disappointing. The patrons of The Social do not come to disturb others, they come to have a good time and dance and be social. Have some class and thoughtfulness about your comments people. There are better ways to express yourself.

    If you have complaints, email the managers and owners, they WILL work with everyone that is willing to work with them. There are in fact good, hard working, honest and decent people that work with and for The Social. I know I do not only speak for myself, but speak for many in saying that The Social has been a great place to gather and have fun and I hope that cooler heads prevail, problems are solved and that harmony can be reached by those concerned about and those in support of The Social.

  9. I agree. It’s time to protest!

    The residents and business owners of East Olive Way have been patient in their approach to the multitude of problems the Social brings to our neighborhood.

    We have tried to have dialogue with the owners Laura Olson and Chris Pardo, but they made it clear that they are only interested in making money at the expense of their neighbors.

    We met with city officials to point out dangerous flaws with the Social’s building permit, but the city would rather put hundreds of club-goer’s lives at risk than admit they made a mistake. Or was it nepotism?

    We call 911 by the hundreds with noise complaints each weekend, but turns out Seattle’s noise ordinance is enforceable by only one (1) person!

    After 10 months of review, the Liquor Control Board finally denies The Social’s liquor license (they have been operating on temporary month-to-month licenses since May 2012), and yet they are still open!

    Time to (peacefully) protest!

  10. Capitol Hill Charlie, with all due respect, you’re full of shit. Had you read the 50 or so comments on the previous thread, people DID go out of their way to contact the management of the Social and got NOTHING.

    The club opened as a gay bar. Gays found it lousy and went elsewhere, only to be replaced by the same crowd that precedes gang fights in Belltown and SODO. That was NOT what the neighborhood was promised and not what we want in this hood.

    The Social needs to go, period

  11. I’m with you, seriouslyCapHill, they have MORE than outlived their welcome.

    I suggest each and EVERY person on the hill pick up the phone and dial 911 the minute this club opens if you see traffic plugging up Olive, noise gets out of hand, even ONE person gets acosted or shoved around by the folks who clog the sidwalk.

    I’d rather we drive them out now, than have the protracted legal battles and violence that is sure to come if they continue to operate the way they have been.

  12. Nope, not full of shit.

    Majority of the spineless, gutless, arrogant and divisive comments on the last thread are full of shit. The crowd is in no way a group of thugs that fight. I am there regularly and I know for a fact that 99% of the attendees are happy, law abiding, hard working tax paying citizens and a bunch of them DO live on Capitol Hill. For you to compare them to gangs/gangsters is irresponsible and reckless and 110% untrue. Have you been to The Social since it opened or ever? Just because every single person in there is not gay or a hipster, doesn’t mean that all of them are gangsters and looking to fight and puke and be assholes. The Social is staying. The noise will be fixed both inside and outside, the people that are looking to solve the problems will do so.

  13. Too many people! Too many cars! Too noisy! Too much puke! Not gay enough! Protests!

    When you moved to the hill, didn’t you look around and try not to find an apartment so close to a commercial space? If you plan to stick around for a few years, don’t assume that space will continue to be a quiet office. And I would worry about smelling the fumes from the buses and cars going up Olive 24/7 than hearing the once a week noise from the club.

    This is a big space. To be successful means it needs to be crowded and that means, lots of people inside and overflowing onto the sidewalk. Yeah, let’s have 20,000 sqft of quiet space. How about an art gallery? That’s quiet and orderly. I am sure the rent for this space can support those kinds of quiet business.

  14. shoot, I thought I would have a weekend when I wasn’t woken up at 2am by super drunk people fighting and screaming as they head to their cars. I live in the Heights and each week the police are called to break up a fight by some super drunk people leaving the Social. I have witnessed four fights in two months in front of Bleu Bistro and the rest of the drunk crowd filmed it on their phones. I have had to walk in the street and avoid traffic while some red bull party coordinator let no one walk on the sidewalk past the club because it might mess up the line.

    I have never seen a club so poorly run and the trash smell right in front is disgusting – this is what you expect from a warehouse club in a less populated area…

  15. Charlie (and others): Once again, let me make it clear that the Social was a totally fine and unproblematic establishment for the first few months of its existence. So, clearly, the owners are currently NOT doing all they can to keep noise levels, trash issues and other things impacting the neighborhood to a minimum.

    Obviously, if you live in this part of Capitol Hill, you can’t expect peace and quiet at all times. Having hundreds of drunk kids screaming, fighting and vomiting 15 feet (or less) from your bedroom window every Friday and Saturday night from 9 pm to 2 am and then having to wade through the disgusting results of this circus the next morning is a different story altogether though.

    If the Social were committed to good relations with their neighbors, they’d have team clean up they sidewalk in front of the club and they alley just off the side on Saturday and Sunday morning. They’d invest whatever it costs in insulation to ensure that noise ordinances are met. They’d have Security not only at the door, but outside, in front of the club, until 30 minutes after closing time, to make sure patrons outside keep the noise the fuck down. Other clubs do all of these things, and their neighbors pay them back with acceptance and tolerance. The Social doesn’t do any of these things, and management in fact refuses to even sit down with neighbors and listen to what they have to say. This attitude is what will eventually drive them out of business. We can handle a few more weeks.

  16. Well CH Charlie I can tell you that while I do not believe the patrons of The Social are thugs or will necessarily precede gang fights, they are not “nice tax paying citizens.” They are loud obnoxious and as far I can tell likely underage. They are by and large drunk when they get there, making them even louder. They fill the sidewalk without regard to passersby or the people who live nearby. While I agree with your quiet and subtle assertion (“DIVERSE”) that many of the people who are disappointed or want to the the social to go have engaged in subtle racism which they cover up using words like thugs and gang fights pointing to the shooting incident in an attempt to cover that racism, I am not. What I am is upset that the owners and mangers of the Social refused to meet with building tenants who are affected by them. I am upset that the Social definitely turned up the volume of their music and few weeks into existence in violation of the noise ordinance. I am upset that they make no effort to quiet their patrons as the wait outside to get into the club during the four hours they have a line which also violates the noise ordinance (it is city ordinance 25.08.500 paragraph E, just for starters). This noise violation is not about the end of the night like many Social supporters attempt to make it. It is all. night. long. If the staff took the complaints seriously, they would organize their line, quiet patrons down, post signage like every bar in the world requesting quiet and respect for neighbors, and meet with neighbors to be open to their concerns. I would request that the Social and its patrons have some thoughtfulness and class when they visit their favorite club, and I will continue to thoughtfully and “classily” despise them. Having “a choice where you live” is ridiculous. Everyone should respect everyone’s ability to live and exist where they like, can afford, are established and feel comfortable. This obligation flows to the Social as well. You are simply wrong that the Social is trying hard enough. It has been months of constant problems. Hire the staff to keep your crowd in line or get shut down. I would love to see a a great dance club in the space, one that controls its line, enforces rules and respects the fact that it in the middle of residences established long before it was.

  17. Plenty of other businesses in this area that don’t cause so much disruption. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you have you are still required to obey the noise ordinance and you are responsible for the crimes of your patrons, that’s the law when you have the privilege of serving alcohol. This is 100% about a bad management group. Nobody is throwing up or blocking traffic in front of Highline, CC’s, Tommy Gun, Bus Stop, Hillside, Clever Dunnes, etc. etc. etc. This space needs responsible owners. This is all about the owners, not the patrons.

    Yes we have all chosen to live in a densely populated area with a mix of businesses and residential. But these apartments have been here a lot longer than The Social. And the law requires all property owners to allow their neighbors “quiet enjoyment” of their property. That’s the law. The Social must obey or go away. That’s it. It’s not a gay/straight/hipster/black/yellow/white thing. It’s a respect of your neighbors and respect of the law thing. Something that Laura and Alex have shown they have none. And from Laura’s other ventures I can tell this is par for the course for her. Po Dogs is a disgusting dirty pit. Grimms is another disgusting place, fortunately not in as densely a populated neighborhood. And yes, I’ve been to both all of these places. And they are all terrible.

  18. Capitol Hill Charlie is obviously out of touch with the community and is either in denial or just doesn’t care about the rest of us.

    To say that the crowd is a loving group is to not have been called a fat ass and jeered at just for wanting to walk down the sidewalk on your way home.

    To say that the actions of this crowd at closing time is just part of the bar/nightlife community is to ignore mention after mention of other places on the hill that do not foster that kind of action.

    I suppose it’s fair to say those coming to have a good time aren’t intending on causing problems and vomiting all over the place, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

    Sure, it would be great to have some kind of harmony between a club and the people it’s right in the middle of, but we are not the ones keeping said harmony from happening. I mean, I haven’t kept you from being able to enter your home by blocking your front door. I haven’t been loitering around and blowing smoke into your windows.

    If we were the real troublemakers, you’d have a point. If every other bar/club treated it’s neighbors this way, you might have a point.

    Instead you’re the one sitting behind a keyboard calling us “spineless, gutless, arrogant and divisive” for sticking up for ourselves and each other when a bully has entered our community and stirred up strife. All this in the guise of this being the melting pot that is Capitol Hill and not part of Footloose. Well I’ll let you know that there will be dancing like you’ve never seen before when this place is finally shut down. It just won’t be the kind of dancing that…
    read more
    kes on your sidewalk and spits in your face when it’s over.

  19. For those in this thread who are complaining that people need to choose not to live on Olive or Pike/Pine if they want to have a little measure of quiet at night–obviously if there are apartments in these places they are zoned to have a mix of commercial and residential. As a single person, I live on a busy street because it’s safer to walk at night. It is not unreasonable to believe that clubs should be required to keep the noise down (it can be done–walk by the Cuff on a Friday–loud inside, quiet outside!) and that patrons shouldn’t disrupt the sidewalks or constantly puke in the streets. Businesses need to be good neighbors to those of us who live here–we shouldn’t be asked to move away from the businesses. If this is the way the city wants it, they should zone a strictly business (no residential) section, and then we can consider what the rules should be for that area. In the meantime, there are laws such as noise ordinances that are meant to make the neighborhoods good for both uses, and businesses should adhere to those standards or be forced to close their doors.

  20. I’m fortunate to live on a reasonably quiet street on Capitol Hill, but I really feel for the neighbors of The Social….they are experiencing a living hell.

    And for those few who think that this is an appropriate location for a loud dance club, think again! It is surrounded by FIVE apartment buildings that have been there for a long time. How could there not be problems? The Social should never have been licensed in the first place, and should be shut down now.

  21. With all due respect, and with the interest in keeping this discourse civil and even-tempered, up yir jacksie — I’ve lived on the Hill for decades, and where the lower Hill used to be a calm residential area that people could sleep throughout the night in, now it’s loud and full of party people from off Hill who think the area is their personal Tijuana. New bars and clubs are fine, but they’re being opened by people who have no clue about the area they’re moving into — cf. that place on U Way that opened a couple years ago and pissed off their neighborhood with a giant loud first night party. They’re closed now. The Social will go, eventually, and maybe somebody will get that misbegotten space and turn it back into offices — with no parking or walkthrough, that’s about what it’s good for.

  22. Those other places aren’t dance clubs and have a mellower crowd. As for laws, plenty of them are placed in low priority or ignored by law enforcement.

    Apartments were here long before, you were here long before, etc. etc. Areas change. People change. There are many areas that don’t change over the years. Do you want to live there? No, the good outweighs the bad, you like the hill enough to stay.

  23. The traffic jam caused by their valet parking is ridiculous and it’s very perplexing that the city doesn’t stop this shit immediately. Why is it ok for a business to cause a bad traffic situation for fucking valet service? The first time I encountered it, I assumed there must be a traffic accident up ahead on Olive/John…only to discover that the mess was caused by one business for the benefit of its customer base. How is that acceptable?

  24. The Social would make a terrific theater space. Ideally, it leaves and some local theater company with money can take it over. That part of the Hill could certainly use an entertainment space that is arts related.
    Win/Win for everyone.

  25. “I know for a fact that 99% of the attendees are happy, law abiding, hard working tax paying citizens and a bunch of them DO live on Capitol Hill.”

    That’s great. Good for them. However, that doesn’t mean they are respectful of the neighboring buildings around The Social. I live in a neighboring apartment on the ground floor, and I am SO sick of having people puking on the sidewalk, people PISSING and placing their bare asses (yes, it has happened MORE than once) on my window, and hearing the crowds yell until 2:30am. Things have only gotten worse since the shooting, and every time I hear angry yelling coming from outside The Social (which is most weekend nights…), it freaks me out. They may be happy, tax-paying, law-abiding citizens, but the majority of the people who crowd outside The Social are assholes. I’m not expecting complete silence because, yes, it’s a busy part of Cap Hill and comes with living there. But having Tommy Gun/Bleu Bistro/CC’s nearby has NEVER been a problem.

    The management/owners have not given ANY indication they care or will even bother listening to complaints, not matter how nicely neighbors go about trying to engage them in productive dialogue.

    I’m not happy to be rooting for a local business to close its doors, but I will be so relieved when The Social finally bites the dust.

  26. “The Social would make a terrific theater space. Ideally, it leaves and some local theater company with money can take it over. That part of the Hill could certainly use an entertainment space that is arts related.
    Win/Win for everyone.”

    YES! When they were originally doing construction last year, I thought I saw a sign that said something about vaudeville or a dinner-theater, and I was excited about that! Minimal noise, relatively non-disruptive demographic, and it sounded awesome. I was kinda excited to live next door. But then it turned out to be this shit show… Hopefully the next owners will consider this as an option when The Social is (inevitably) shut down.

  27. “some local theater company with money…”

    Hahahaha. Yeah, right, that’s funny. Do you KNOW of one of those? If so, I suspect it would be news to any of the various small theatre groups around CapHill.

  28. uh, actually I do. There are smaller theater companies around with some money and there are certainly organizations that know how to raise funding. Whether there is one currently with assets looking for a home, I don’t know, but there are certainly many small companies that would love a new venue on the Hill…there aren’t very many at present.

  29. The soon-to-be-built development on 12th Ave will have two performance spaces and, I believe, will be home to three small theater companies. That’s wonderful, but probably there are other small companies which could move into The Social’s space, once it (inevitably) is toast….the only barrier would be financial.

    No matter what, the new tenant will be a huge improvement over the current noisy, rude, and intolerable situation. And maybe this time, the City will pay more attention and not license a business there which would be an insult to the neighbors.

  30. I don’t necessarily like the Social but it is not my business to judge another business that is operating in a location that is permitted for it’s use/capacity in a building that is not mine. We definitely have some morons in our building that have been on a relentless witch hunt regarding this business from the get go. As a small business owner I feel their pain (ironically the douche that sends out a majority of the witch hunt emails is a small business owner too…even more ironic is his Dali Lama quote on the bottom of his email). Below are the type of things we receive to our condo forum before their events even begin…this is not fair to any small business. I guess I knew what I was getting into when I moved into one of the most commercially dense neighborhoods on the hill. We have a train station coming in a block away folks…it ain’t gonna get any better so move out while you can. Why make your lives miserable by fighting a loosing battle whether the Social makes it through this or not. If you want peace and quiet Shoreline is 10 minutes away. We will be one block away from what will be the busiest intersection on the hill in one year. Consider the Social a training ground for what’s to come or get the fuck out. Sorry to disagree with a majority of my Plaza Del Sol cohorts.

    Here are the type of emails that are sent to our forum:

    “From: Scott Souchock

  31. Looks like your message got cut off. And you miss the point. No matter what the business you must obey the noise ordinance which the Social never ever ever has. It doesn’t matter how dense or busy the area is, you still have to obey the law. And liquor establishments by law are responsible for their patrons, especially the ones who do drive by shootings. No club where a shooting occurs has ever been allowed to continue operation since I’ve lived here (19 years) and Social shouldn’t be any different. The train station will be deep under ground and won’t be open past 1 am. There are plenty of similar businesses in the neighborhood that are not anything near the blight that Social is and their owners, Chris, Alex and Laura have refused to do anything to mitigate any of the problems. Nothing. That is not acceptable. Quiet enjoyment of one’s property is a right. Having a liquor license is a privilege. That’s the facts.

  32. I think you’ve misunderstood and missed the point here. You are right that we have chosen to live in the city, and therefore cannot expect complete peace and quiet all the time. However, you are wrong to think that it is ok for the nightclub next door to be hugely successful at the expense of all of its neighbors. Business owners, condo owners, renters and passersby are all distressed by the noise and disruption caused by such an enormous nightclub nestled between so many residential buildings. While I have seen that the club owners have made some efforts to remedy some of the disruptions to the neighborhood, it just isn’t working. Please understand that we are not on a witch hunt. We are just hoping to take out our ear plugs, put away our white noise machines, and continue enjoying our urban lives.

    It is not unreasonable to assume that the city zoning and permitting laws should protect homeowners and renters from having a nightclub in their bedroom with them. If this situation sets a precedent for how nightlife is allowed to grow, then our city and neighborhoods are in big trouble.