While standing in the basement of The Lafayette Church last evening, listening to Elmwood villagers battle it out over whether Acropolis was a nightclub or not, I came to a realization. Elmwood villagers are divided into two camps. The first camp lives in the Elmwood Village because they are either raising a family or are retired. These are the people who talk about issues such as lack of parking, loud music, drunk people, etc. The second camp is clearly a younger demographic who live in the ‘village’ because it is located in a city where they can find eclectic live music, bars that stay open late, lively patios, etc. The first camp attempted to paint Acropolis as a nightclub with pounding music, drunk patrons walking the streets, windows rattling, sleepless nights… while the second camp recounted with impressions of an older, subdued clientele who would not be caught in a nightclub atmosphere and who were genuinely appreciative to have a place in the city where they could relax, have drinks and listen to live music.
If I sound like I’m on the side of Acropolis, it’s because I am. I am in that second camp. I appreciate what Acropolis is offering to a middle-age clientele, and truly enjoy spending my time there listening to music that I find is far from loud and obnoxious. This past summer I listened to one of my young neighbors practicing his drums every evening (without fail). The drums might have been a bit irritating if I didn’t tell myself that this was city living. Eventually I began to embrace the sound, as apparently all my neighbors did because he played until it was too cold to leave the windows open. I’m sure that he’s still playing, but winter is a quiet time as windows are shut and upper decks are empty. Just like the patios on Elmwood. Come spring I will open my windows again, and will listen for the sounds of the city, as I have my entire life. I will also be one of the people on Elmwood looking for places where my wife and I can find live music on any given night. That’s why we live in the city. We don’t need parking. We aren’t looking for nightclubs. We enjoy spending time with our friends and neighbors at places that embody city living.
When I stopped in for lunch at Acropolis on Wednesday, I was greeted with low conversation and no music playing on the radio. Can you believe that until Common Council decides on the issue, the restaurant can’t even play the radio? There was NO music playing, and all of the patrons were talking about the issue. At the same time, Acropolis’s opponents are also saying that the restaurant shouldn’t be able to open the bar on the second floor, and that servers should have to have to walk up a flight of stairs every time someone orders a drink. Insane? That would pretty much kill all of the banquets, events and fundraisers that Acropolis has been counting on. No music. No drinks served on the second floor. The first camp contends that they live in the Elmwood Village because it’s quiet, and that’s the way they like it. I still remember when it was decided that the name ‘The Elmwood Strip’ was going to be rebranded as ‘The Elmwood Village’. I didn’t agree with the change for the very reasons that we are fighting this battle before us today. We live in a city that should be vibrant, not dead. We should be embracing Acropolis and the investments that are being made. Same with Blue Monk and all of the others that contribute to the cosmopolitan atmosphere that so many city dwellers desire. There’s a big difference between nightlife and nightclubs.