A Night in the Life of a Sidewalk Nightclub in Hell Square
A neighbor living on Ludlow Street sent along the following dispatch of a late-night encounter during routine weekend partying in Hell Square. One thing seems clear, the situation in this “ground zero” is worse now than pre-pandemic times.
At approximately 12:15am Sunday (August 1), our 4th-floor apartment was suddenly overwhelmed by the sound of thumping music from below. The sheer volume eclipsed two air conditioners and a sound machine; it was as if the sound was coming from a system in our own kitchen or bedroom. Needless to say, our home was dominated by the party outside, our son woken and deprived of sleep for at least two hours. In effect, we became hostages in our own home.
Because of the horrific volume bombardment, I went downstairs to locate the source. Even with the additional chaos of the night, it was not difficult to locate it. There, parked at 159 Ludlow, just south of the shed for Ohk-Dog, was a black vehicle with all of its doors open, blasting the music. Around the vehicle, completely taking over the sidewalk, were dozens of people dancing.
When I returned, we made a 311 complaint, and later learned that several of our neighbors did the same. Because of the appalling nature of the situation, we also contacted the 7th Precinct directly and were assured that the situation would be properly handled.
After another 30 minutes of this lawlessness, we noticed that the music abruptly ceased. We assumed, correctly, that NYPD had intervened and we were grateful. No more than three minutes had passed, however, when the music returned, yet even louder than before. The direction and source sounded identical, so I again went into the street to find the samw vehicle, doors wide open, blasting their music at a greater volume that previously. I returned home and reported to my neighbors, almost all of whom were now awake.
I again called 311 and explicitly requested that they note that the NYPD had just “closed” the case as per a text about my 311 complaint.
I then again phoned the 7th Precinct and spoke to the same officer as the first time, who informed me that NYPD sis respond and requested that the music be lowered (not turned off). She also seemed surprised that the owners of the vehicle had not complied, but had in fact revived the sidewalk nightclub at even greater volume and even more participants.
I asked if blasting music at incredible decibels late-night was not illegal, and if it was, why no one was arrested or even ticketed. She replied that, “you just can’t around arresting people or giving them fines” and that it was “more complicated than that.” I replied that I was not asking NYPD to go around fining or arresting people but to fine or arrest people that were in fact breaking the law in the most public and obnoxious way possible. She then said she would sent another car. About 30 minutes passed when we noticed another abrupt and brief silencing of the music. A few minutes later, it again returned loud as ever. For the third time I called the 7th and spoke to the same officer about the same car in the same place doing the same thing.
She told me she would send another car. I told her I would be waiting on the street to film the encounter.
About 10 minutes later, an NYPD car drove south on Ludlow from Houston. The owners of the vehicle and their crowd saw it, too, and immediately turned off the music. I watched from across the street as the officers parked, got out of the car, listened a moment for music, then returned to the cruiser after hearing none. I ran across the street just as they were pulling out and asked the: Are you responding to a call about a black vehicle repeatedly blasting music? The officer answered that they were but that the problem was obviously resolved since they heard no music. I replied that the problem was anything but resolved and that the vehicle and persons in question were standing not 40 yards waiting for them to leave. The officer was professional and empathic but said could do nothing now because the music had been turned off and he could do nothing on “hearsay.” I found this answer astounding, since there had been numerous 311 complaints lodged which were not, in my understanding “hearsay.” I asked him if it was not against the law to blast music beneath the windows of residents at 12:30 am or 1:00 am or 2:00 am in the morning? Was not such an act a crime? He acknowledged that it was. I then asked him if crimes did not have consequences, if not an arrest than at the very least a hefty fine? He did not answer but told me he would handle it. In fact, shortly thereafter, the aural assault did not return.
Yet, the reality was it took three calls to the NYPD and two hours before it was dealt with. Why do people who would repeatedly pull such an illegal stunt in effect have more rights than we residents? Why are they being protected?