This winter, the International Party celebrated its 10th
anniversary. The popular party is held at The Local in Rutland this
year after being hosted in Killington the nine years prior. But the
18+ dance party may now be at risk due to the recent interpretation
of a city ordinance. The city Aldermen are looking to clarify an
existing policy for disallowing students 18 and over in 21+
nightclubs. If successful, it would leave the party homeless, and
legions of international workers from Killington, Okemo and
Stratton very disappointed. The Wednesday gathering has become the
highlight of the week for workers from dozens of countries who
flock to the bar to dance to music from their homelands.
International party founder and DJ, Craig Hahn, feels like the
International Party is being threatened unfairly. "This seems to
have become a personal issue for some of the city Alderman and the
Chief of Police, but there is no reason for these kids to be the
one who are hurt. The International students mostly live in Rutland
and Chip has created a safe environment for me to continue my 10th
season," Hahn says.
The recent controversy can be traced to this summer when the
Rutland board narrowly defeated an amendment to the City's
Entertainment Club Ordinance that would allow for 18+ events at
"over 21 clubs." The catch is that the ordinance provides the
following definition for such a club: "Over Twenty-one club: Any
entertainment club which restricts its admission to persons age 21
years and over."
The Local owner Chip Greeno says they are not an over 21 club
because they do not restrict admission. The Local invites patrons
under the age of 21 to pay a cover charge of $150, except on
Wednesdays, the night of the International Party, when it is
reduced to a $5 cover.
Alderman Charles Romeo is the chairman of the Charter and
Ordinance Committee and he said that some were under the impression
that the Entertainment Club Ordinance banned underage patrons from
bars. It does not, he explained. It only bars persons under 21 from
an "over 21 club." Romeo said "I think some members further thought
that, by defeating the amendment, it was clear that the board did
not support 18+ events."
Romeo submitted a proposal at a meeting last week in order to
clarify in the ordinances the city's policy of banning persons
under 21 from Rutland bars. He says "the new ordinance is a
standalone proposal. It is not an amendment to the current
entertainment ordinance. That will stay as it is. Last summer the
issue came before the board and the issue of an under 21 ban for
bars was put on the backburner as other issues were dealt with. I
wanted to take care of it before the election coming up in March.
For me, this is an issue of 'what is the public policy in the City
of Rutland?' A number of board member said last summer that it is
the public policy that people under 21 are not allowed in bars.
This proposal was introduced to clearly state and enforce that
A public forum involving the Ordinance and Charter Committee saw
supporters of the International Party pleading their case. Chip
Greeno pointed to the fact that little problems had arisen from his
under 21 gatherings at The Local. "The majority of the people
coming to these are over 21. There's only a handful who are under.
The point is, they can all go together." The Local hires many
security guards to ensure no one under 21 has access to alcohol or
causes other problems.
However, Police Chief James Baker was also there expressing his
concerns. In a phone interview with The Mountain Times Chief Baker
said, "Vermont leads the country in binge drinking and underage
drinking." When asked about the International Party specifically he
said, "Since I've been here for a year, we've had no issues, but
we've had limited exposure. As I understand it, before I got here
there were a couple of establishments that tried it and there were
a lot of problems," Baker said, adding "As the Police Chief, I
don't support underage clubs where alcohol is present… It's not a
good policy to have underage kids mixed in with adults that are
drinking alcohol. It's not a good policy from a public safety
Hahn, feels like the International Party is not the problem and,
actually, has something important to offer: culture. "There are
many young adults who are from Rutland who are well-behaved and
attend the party. They have been exposed to a whole new culture,
musically, and that can't be so bad. The International Party is not
the problem... city's time and money could be better spent in other
It seems that there may be hope for the International Party and
other such 18+ events in the City of Rutland. There is interest
among certain city officials to allow for a permit process that may
grant temporary 18 and up status to a city bar or club. Such an
allowance could be viewed on a case-by-case basis and reevaluated
if problems arise.
As it stands now, the Ordinance and Charter Committee voted to
submit the above mentioned proposal to the full board at its next
scheduled meeting, Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.