As Geneseo prepares for the opening of its first electronic dance music nightclub Bada Bing on Saturday Feb. 8, controversy over the content of the club’s themed party nights has caused some students to organize a boycott in protest. The new club is owned by James Spero, from Long Island, and has opened up nightclubs all over the country. Bada Bing will be Geneseo’s first bar to allow in students 18 years of age and to host themed after-hours. These factors have proved controversial in the community.
Employees of the club, such as promoter junior Aaron Murphy and bartender sophomore Anna Bertoldini, spent the last weekend handing out fliers around town, which detail party themes such as “Mobsters and Mistresses,” for which women are encouraged to “dress provocative enough to catch the eye of a taken man.”
According to Spero, the themes presented are much less intense than themes he has opened with at his other establishments. He said, “With the mobsters and mistresses theme, there is nothing there that I feel is too sexual. Maybe the word ‘provocative’ was over the top. But the main idea is dress to impress, both guys and girls.”
While Murphy said he understands why there is opposition, he feels a large part of it has to do with the failure of both sides in seeking out more information.
“There has been a lack of research by both sides. If [the students organizing the boycott] would have come and spoken with us first, they would know that themes are only 10 percent of our business model and easily changed,” he said. “But you can take any detail of something and find something wrong with it.”
Bertoldini feels that the fliers are poor promotional material for the club.
“I’m from Italy, which is a very male-dominated society, and I still felt the fliers were sexist,” she said. “However, I know that is not what [Bada Bing] is about. The fliers absolutely misrepresent the club.”
Several students created the Facebook group “Boycott Bada Bing: Stop the Objectification of Women,” coupled with a petition, encouraging students to boycott Bada Bing on the grounds that the fliers and promoted themes objectify women.
Seniors Deven Coulter and Kaitlyn Wegman are two of the organizers of the boycott. They both said they don’t want to eliminate Bada Bing from the community but rather draw attention to the atmosphere the sexualized promotion creates.
“We’re not trying to destroy a business; we just want men and women of this campus to be aware that this isn’t acceptable, especially when this is a large option for freshmen and sophomores who can’t get into other bars,” Wegman said. “They might not know enough to not be taken advantage of.”
Coulter said she stresses the importance of educating students and making them aware of their options.
“We want to break the mold and change the discussion,” she said. “But we want to keep it a very friendly discussion for the purpose of educating people and building a relationship with Bada Bing. We just would like them to change the way they’re promoting their night club.”
Since Sunday Feb. 2, the petition has accumulated more than 350 signatures.
In response, Murphy said that Bada Bing is taking steps to rectify the situation.
“We’ve reached out and we are working actively to come to a common agreement. We plan on dropping the themes and picking up new ones,” he said.
According to Spero, no official agreement has been reached, and he has yet to meet with the boycott organizers.
“Any agreement my employees spoke about were [discussed] behind closed doors. But I’ll be honest and clear; I don’t want to make any students uncomfortable,” he said.
Bada Bing has not scratched the idea of themes, as Spero said that keeping themes is an important part of the club’s appeal.
“We can’t compete against the [Inn Between] fully because they’ve been established for 30 years; we have to be an alternative,” Spero said. Bertoldini mirrored this thought.
“The themes get more people to come because it is more fun, and it makes it different because we don’t want to be a direct competitor to the IB,” she said.
Junior Jordan Fulcoly is the DJ for Bada Bing. He said they will be pursuing less “sexualized” themes for the coming weeks and will not have themes every week.
“We’re thinking about themes like glow parties – things that are much more general and less one-sided and sexualized. Ultimately, dropping the elaborate themes saves us money because we don’t have to purchase a ton of decorations,” Fulcoly said.
The group was updated on Tuesday Feb. 4 to reflect the cooperation that occurred between the establishment and the protesters. The page reads, “We’d like to announce that the staff of Bada Bing has been extremely responsive to our views and our online petition. Many staff members immediately reached out to us to let us know that they would try to rectify the situation.”