There have been many responses to the goings on at Azul in the past few months; the club has been the center of a heated though much needed debate over how the people of Salisbury should respond to youth and youth centered businesses. The most popular trains of thought on the shore tend to go as follows:
1. Under 21 clubs never work, especially in Salisbury. On top of the fact that they are a terrible idea, they attract local thugs and gang-bangers. Azul was always going to close, good riddance to it.
2. Azul was just in a bad location. A historic downtown is an inappropriate venue for any nightclub, let alone a club aimed at the under 21 crowd. People with real jobs and real families have to live and work Downtown- its not the place for underage shenanigans. If they had picked a different spot, Azul would have had a better chance of succeeding, otherwise they were doomed to fail.
3. Downtown is a sinking ship. And for that matter, so is Salisbury. Any business that opens around here is going to close. Azul, and anybody else with vision is wasting their time. They never had a chance.
4. Azul was a great idea. They gave kids who are normally bored something to do and brought foot traffic to an otherwise empty part of downtown. Azul had a lot of potential and should have been a success. What went wrong??
On our bad days, The Other SBY News hovers around opinion Number 3; we get worn down by the constant negativity that seems to permeate Salisbury's business climate and dream of moving away to a place that actually likes young people and encourages new ideas. But every other day, cock-eyed optimists that we are, we support opinion Number 4- we liked Azul, and we wanted to see it do well...and we weren't alone. So why did it close after only a few months?
Here at The Other SBY News, we have a theory. Maybe the problems that surrounded Azul were never really about Azul at all, but were indicative of a much bigger, much more deep-rooted issue regarding the way that Salisbury handles its young people... or rather, the way it doesn't.
What upset us in reading the local responses to the going-ons at Azul, was that many of our fellow citizens seem to hold the opinion that providing an outlet for active young people is in itself, a recipe for trouble, while denying them said outlet is somehow a remedy for it. Worse still, was the shared sentiment echoed in so many of the comments on the Grinches site, that the "problem children" who frequented Azul would go away, and leave the City of Salisbury alone, if only Azul were closed. The Other SBY News would like to ask the people who left those comments a question: Where do you think the "gang-bangers" and "thugs" will go now that Azul is gone? Do you really think those kids will be less of a drain on police resources now that they are left to their own devices, than they were when they hung out downtown, making too much noise?
The most alarming revelation to come out of the Azul debate for us, was that as a community, we are more concerned that hoards of at-risk youth are bothering us, than we are about the fact that we literally have hoards of at-risk youth. We have had 4 under 21 clubs close in Salisbury due to gang-related violence, but instead of asking ourselves "why are all of our violent gangs under 21?" we shrug our shoulders and look the other way. We just don't understand how the City of Salisbury can expect to hold it's teenagers responsible for their actions on Saturday night, when Monday through Friday, it pretends not to see them.