Show & Tell

Bottled Up Frustration Noise outside a Penn Quarter club leads to an outpouring of anger.

(Illustration by Kyle T Webster)

A couple of weeks ago, Leah April decided that she’d had it with the noisemakers standing below her window. April lives in the Cosmopolitan, a condo building next to RNR Bar & Lounge on 6th Street NW. As a development consultant, April travels to places like Afghanistan and Eastern Europe, and she likes a little peace and quiet when she’s home. So after being awoken yet again by the crowd outside RNR, she decided to let them have it. Sometime after 1 a.m. on Jan. 28, she cracked open her window and poured a bottle of water on RNR’s revelers. “It was just a little bottle of water,” she says. “It was water from the tap.”

April’s January offensive was the second time RNR folk have received an unexpected shower from their next-door neighbors, says owner Chris Sanders. This time cops witnessed the incident and wrote it up, though April wasn’t charged with an offense.

“There’s a limit,” Sanders says. “When she threw water on our customers, that seemed to be a direct attack on our business.” For the time being, “We just demanded an apology [and] for her to cease and desist that type of behavior,” he says. “We like to handle things civilly, not by throwing water on people.”

Things weren’t always so contentious between the bar and its condo-dwelling neighbors. In fact, just last spring they were breaking bread and sipping brew together. When the bar owners announced that RNR would be replacing Coyote Ugly, the neighbors were excited about the transition. They expected “a local bar, not a destination bar,” says Miles Groves, president of the Cosmopolitan Condominium Association. To celebrate, the RNR’s owners threw a party on their rooftop, inviting residents and members of the Penn Quarter Neighborhood Association to come by and hang out. “It was just a pleasant afternoon,” Groves says.

But the bar’s new incarnation has been too successful for some Cosmopolitan residents. There’s been a steady stream of noise complaints, Sanders says, and now the smoking ban has added to the sidewalk hubbub. “The smoking ban causes a lot of in-and-out traffic, a lot more than usual,” he says. “People are going to be loud. It’s cold outside. They’re like, ‘Whoa, it’s cold.’ It’s not like they’re singing soccer songs.”

He says RNR has worked hard to tamp down the noise levels. “We’ve hired extra staff, got police presence and an audio engineer at significant expense to ourselves.” For example, the engineer recommended that the bar reposition its speakers and install a door in the back stairway, which it did, Sanders says. “We’re trying to be a good neighbor.”

Sanders has sympathy for the people next door, but he thinks they should have anticipated noise when they decided to move to the neighborhood. “You live at the cross street of an arena. When the Wizards fans come out hooting and hollering, do they call Abe Pollin? It’s like moving in at the end of the runway and complaining about the planes.”

Pee Party?

At its weekly meeting Feb. 7, venerable members of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board paused to consider an unsavory subject. According to an Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration case report, at about 2:15 a.m. on Sept. 16, 2006, a Five nightclub patron named Sasha Ramdeen was escorted out of the establishment. What happened while she was being kicked out, however, is up for debate.

In an interview with administration investigators, Ramdeen said that, following an altercation between patrons she did not know, security ejected her from the club, led her down a staircase, and sent her out the back exit. She was kicked out so swiftly and forcefully, she says in the report, that she fell down.

Then, Ramdeen says, a guard peed on her.

Not only that, friend Ryan A. Vicente claims in the report, but other guards cheered him on, shouting obscenities and saying, “This is what you get.”

Ramdeen did not appear at the hearing Feb. 7 and did not return calls for comment, but Tim Sherman, the club’s vice president, did address the alcohol board. He said he was “blown away” by the accusations. “It was disgusting. And I couldn’t even believe it would happen.”

Upon learning of the urination allegation, he said he immediately convened his staff to find out what happened. “What’s this about, this story? The girl said you peed on her,” he remembers saying. But security denied the incident, Sherman testified. He speculated that Ramdeen’s pants may have been wet because of fluid in the alley behind the club. After all, “The alleyway is used by six different nightclubs who drag their trash around out there,” Sherman said.

Board members plumbed the story to locate the source of the leak. Board member Peter Feather asked, “Is there anything you heard that indicated that the area where she was standing was wet? It would seem to be difficult to hit just the bottom of her pants.”

But board chair Charles Burger said figuring out who peed was not the point. “The issue of urination is intriguing to people,” he said, but reviewing Five’s procedure for ejecting patrons was more important. “If you eject anybody from the club, you should escort them right to a police officer,” he said.

Got something for Show & Tell? Send tips to show@washcp.com. Or call (202) 332-2100, x 455.

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