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Club owner denies overcrowding Says no truth to police fears of ‘R.I. incident’ on New Year’s Eve

Club owner denies overcrowding

Says no truth to police fears of ‘R.I. incident’ on New Year’s Eve

By Christine McConville  |   Monday, January 3, 2011  |  |  Local Coverage

Photo by Dominic Reuter
Cops and firefighters shut down a crowded downtown club owner citing a “Rhode Island incident waiting to happen” on New Year’s Eve, but the owner disputes the police report and fire-code violations.

Darrin Morda, owner of the club Rise, said Boston police’s version of its New Year’s Eve raid on his Stuart Street club “is full of so many untruths and half-truths, it’s astonishing.”

He said he wants the police department to retract its press release on the raid, then he plans to straighten out what he said is a mix-up with the Boston Fire Department over accusations of expired permits.

But police and fire officials said they’re standing by their reports, which say the club was “dangerously overcrowded and that in the event of a fire that patrons would be unable to exit the building and that lives would be lost.”

“We’re citing them for being overcrowded and having flammable decorations,” Boston fire spokesman Steve MacDonald said.

“We stand by our report 100 percent,” said police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll.

Boston police said officers showed up at Rise, a members-only dance club that is open to people age 18 and older, at about 11:40 p.m. New Year’s Eve. A police captain sent officers there after seeing a “dangerously large crowd and line extending the entire length of Stuart Street,” the police report states.

“Detectives observed several females in high heels fall to the ground as a result of having to walk in snowbanks because the sidewalk was blocked,” the police report states.

Then, when police entered the club, which is allowed to hold no more that 292 people, they reported “a crowd in excess of approximately 800 patrons,” including “numerous female patrons who were underage and in various states of undress dancing and girating (sic) provocatively.”

Inside, police said they found a “Rhode Island incident waiting to happen,” a reference to 2003’s fatal fire at The Station nightclub that killed 100 people. Police say their efforts to evacuate clubgoers were stymied by the owners, who “verbally disrespected and disparaged” the officers. Morda reportedly told Boston Police Detective Daniel Keeler, “I will have your job by Monday,” the report states.

Police said they found small bottles of alcohol, expired city permits and exposed wires and electrical outlets in the club. Flammable decorations, they said, were hanging from the ceiling.

Morda insisted yesterday that his private club has been operating legally and in compliance with all city requirements for 12 years. Of the accusations of more than 800 people, Morda said, “That’s physically impossible,” adding that people would have to be stacked “like firewood to get that many people in here.”

“There were about 300 people in the club,” he said.

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