Around the Scene: July 9, 2009

Big brother has arrived at the tony Baja Beach Club in Barcelona, Spain, where they have begun to inject small radio frequency microchips in the arms of VIP partygoers. The chips give members access to exclusive VIP lounges and the ability to pay for cocktails with the wave of a scanner that connects to a customer database where members pre-register their debit cards for easy payment. Simon Morton, a BBC Science producer who reported on the story, noted that it was an ideal concept for a beach club where bikinis reign supreme and pockets and handbags become cumbersome hassles. While microchipping has become commonplace for pets and eerily more accepted for small children and the elderly, it’s the first time that a nightclub is pushing the concept for guests to voluntarily go under the needle. Conspiracy bloggers were quick to write red about the concept, alluding to the evil intentions of the idea, but it seems the real-life, non-cabal drawback to the idea is that it only works at one venue, somewhat limiting the need and effectiveness of it. While it’s a pretty safe assumption that microchipping might become the next personal privacy debate, our credit card and cash remains waterproof and easily hidden in even the smallest of board-short pockets.

Nightclub and bar owners in Hong Kong are now encountering the same no-smoking issues as their brethren in many places around the globe, as a two-and-a-half year temporary exemption from a public-area smoking ban expired last week. The 2007 law made it illegal to smoke at offices, beaches, parks and shopping malls but granted an extension to bars, nightclubs and gambling halls to “prepare” themselves. While some owners had petitioned for further extensions, government officials balked, noting, “It’s time for the smokers to think about quitting.”

The co-owner of Rhode Island’s Station Nightclub, where a fire started during a Great White concert in 2003 and killed nearly 100 patrons, was released from a medium-security prison last week after serving three years of his four-year sentence. Michael Derderian was released one year early for good behavior. The fatal fire was started by a pyrotechnics display that went awry. He has committed to helping the children of fire victims through the development of the Station Education Fund and released a statement on the Station Education Fund web site that read: “The magnitude of what happened cannot be measured in words, and while my prison time was certainly difficult, I have always known there are others who have endured so much more on a daily basis. … Although my incarceration has ended, remembering the loss of life and pain from family members and survivors is something that will never leave me.”

We have to give some props to the St. Petersburg Times. It’s never easy creating a Top 100 list — something we here at NCB know very well from our always-anticipated list of Top 100 Nightclubs & Bars in America (you can read our most recent list here) — but the staff bravely took one on the chin and compiled a list of the Top 100 drinking spots in Tampa Bay. There don’t seem to be many qualifications and the list is pretty subjective, unlike the NCB list, which is based strictly on gross revenue, but check out the full list here.

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