Washington Avenue Armory under the microscope

Posted at: 12/01/2012 12:24 AM
By: Dan Levy

ALBANY - The Washington Avenue Armory had something to prove on Friday night. In the wake of an ugly melee that broke out during a rave party last month, Armory officials say they've made changes, and confidant that Friday night's Masquerave would run smoothly.

Rave parties involving electronic dance music have occurred dozens of times over the past two years inside the Armory, but when a melee erupted in October, police officers were hurt, and arrests were made, the city hit the pause button, demanding immediate changes.

"We've done everything that's been asked of us," said Michael Corts, Director of Communications and Marketing at the Washington Avenue Armory. "We've been above and beyond and if the city asked us to do something, we're going to do it and we're going to show we can do it well."

At Friday night's Masquerave, everyone walking through the front door was searched, anyone misbehaving was thrown out, and zero tolerance policies involving underage drinking were strictly enforced.

They also managed to thin out the crowd, limiting the dance floor to no more than 2,100 people.

But even though Armory officials were able to limit the number of people allowed on the dance floor, what was more difficult to limit was what happens outside the Armory, and that has become a major concern of neighbors.

"These sorts of events were originally created in industrial areas, where no people lived around them," said Richard Berkley, president of the Hudson Park Neighborhood Association. "The one question we'd ask is: Is it better for these type of events to be carried out down in the industrial zones of Albany?"

Berkley says he has no problem with people having fun, but many of the party goers, he says, disrespect the neighborhood when the music stops playing.

"No one wants to put these guys out of business," Berkley says, "But they have to understand that this is a huge crowd of people that spills out into a large residential neighborhood in the middle of the night and no one controls the way they behave after they leave here and quite often they behave badly."