Political Dance

LOOK OUT—Mom's pissed! Seattle City Council member and strict mother Margaret Pageler has launched a vigorous defense of the Teen Dance Ordinance. The Joint Artists and Musicians Promotions Action Committee (JAMPAC), the chief opponent of the law, suffered a setback on April 30 when a federal judge upheld the Teen Dance Ordinance as constitutional, ruling that the city could reasonably regulate recreational dancing of any kind. Meanwhile, Mayor Greg Nickels and five members of the City Council have pledged to address the problem politically by passing a new, more liberal law to regulate teen nightlife—the All-Ages Dance Ordinance.

Pageler won't let that happen without a fight. On Monday, May 13, she will hold a forum called "Protect Our Kids" that will bring together "parents, community organizations, and residents concerned about commercial exploitation of teens." Her leaflet for the event states, "The nightclub and for-profit music industry is pushing a new All-Ages Dance Ordinance that will expose teens to new levels of exploitation in clubs and at all-night, all-ages events. . . . It's time to hear from the other side."

How will Seattle respond? For decades, the city has clung to standards of politeness, order, and social control that seem bizarre to newcomers—geographical or chronological. Seattle's voters don't like unruliness, noise, or disorder—just ask former Mayor Paul Schell, who let things get out of hand and found himself booted out of office. The kingpin of civility, former City Attorney Mark Sidran, just missed being elevated to the mayoralty by a few thousand votes. There is a large constituency out there for Pageler's point of view. They have money, children, and they vote. But are they really worried about teen dances?

Pageler is betting they are, and that her colleagues and the mayor are out of step politically with Seattle's silent majority. If anyone has the skills and credentials to fire up the civility crowd, it's Pageler, a former community activist who is legendary for her work habits. While her rhetoric seems like something out of a 1950s pamphlet warning about the dangers of rock 'n' roll, the success or failure of her effort will tell us a lot about where Seattle is politically in 2002.

Protect Our Kids forum, 6:30-9 p.m. Mon., May 13, Miller Community Center, 330 19th E., 684-8807.

George Howland Jr.


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