Marietta Police said certain bar owners in the city lease their floor space to club promoters for the evening, who then host a foam party there. The establishment is filled with waist-deep foam, which the attendees dance in. Trouble is, minors as young as 13 show up and mix with the adults, often ending up drunk and engaging in sexual activity.
Lt. Steve Kish and Maj. Cliff Kelker gave council members a flier from the El Texano Nightclub on Franklin Road near Delk Road. The flier advertises a foam party for this Friday. It shows a woman decked out in a bikini dancing in foam. The flier also advertises that no IDs are required, that the dress code is “booty shorts, bikinis and beach clothes,” and that there will be a $100 “booty shaking contest” at the event.
Police say the minors learn about the foam parties through such social media outlets as Facebook.
The officers said that after the foam parties close for the night, the minors will congregate outside the bar, sometimes in the hundreds, which attracts gang recruiters and leads to gang violence.
Police say one offender is Runaround Sue’s, located on Church Street Extension just off Cobb Parkway near the Canton Road Connector. Several arrests were made there after two rival gangs shot at each other, Kish said.
Kish said cities such as Savannah and Columbus have already passed ordinances banning minors from bars.
Councilman Philip Goldstein said it was one thing to ban 13- to 17-year-olds from bars. But Goldstein objected to banning 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds.
“That goes too far,” he said.
Mayor Steve Tumlin said he didn’t see a distinction between 13- to 17-year-olds and 18- to 20-year-olds in the context of the conversation they were having because Georgia law prohibits anyone younger than 21 from drinking alcohol.
“They are minors as far as alcohol,” Tumlin said.
But Goldstein said the 18- to 20-year-old set may want to be in the bar to dance and therefore shouldn’t be prevented from doing so.
“They can’t drink but they can dance,” he said.
Goldstein said there were bars and lounges in the city that didn’t host foam parties, and adopting an ordinance banning anyone younger than 21 from attending those places would penalize them.
“You’re painting everyone with the same brush,” Goldstein said. “Don’t adversely impact legitimate businesses.”
Moreover, Goldstein said state law allows people younger than 21 to work in bars. He urged his fellow council members to continue to allow minors to work in bars regardless of what changes they made to the ordinance.
Tumlin said state law may allow minors to work in bars, but that doesn’t mean the city has to allow it, a statement city attorney Doug Haynie said was correct.
Councilman Anthony Coleman, who had requested the subject be placed on the council’s Judicial/Legislative Committee agenda for discussion, said he sided with police in wanting to ban anyone under 21 from bars.
In the end, Goldstein and Jim King, the only two members currently on the committee, advanced the agenda item on to the council’s Aug. 6 work session, asking that the proposed ordinance is written so as to ban minors under 18 from Marietta bars, but that it continues to allow minors in bars if they are working there and if they are older than 17.