One of the board members for Tabu Social Club in Baltimore, Maryland, shares her perspective as a lifestyle club during a pandemic.
July 2020 | Baltimore, Maryland
Let me introduce myself. I am Vicki, and one of the board members for Tabu Social Club in Baltimore, Maryland.
People keep emailing me asking if we are open or when we will be opening. I do understand the want to return to normalcy; believe me, so do we, but here is some food for thought.
Maryland Regulations as of July 2020
Right now, in Maryland, you cannot legally do things like:
- Go to a movie.
- Eat inside a restaurant
- Go to a sporting event.
- Go to an inside location, like a grocery store, without a mask.
- Visit loved ones freely in a nursing home without restrictions.
- Go to an entertainment venue or dance club.
- Go to a large religious gathering.
- Get closer than 6 feet away to people outdoors.
- Go to large social gatherings.
- Go to high-capacity bars and restaurants.
Legally, you cannot go to a swingers’ club here. Every state is different, so I reflect on my home area of Maryland.
Tabu’s Choice to Operate Legally
I know friends and other club owners here have really tried to ‘tip toe’ around this publicly. I can’t continue to do that. If you are going to lifestyle events, clubs, or paid house/hotel parties right now, you are attending an event that is not legally open. PERIOD! It is your choice to attend events, albeit an ILLEGAL choice.
It is our choice, Tabu’s, to operate LEGALLY and to protect our members and our community. We will be quickly approaching 5 months of being closed. YES, 5 months is a lifetime to have zero revenue as a business. Let that sink in if you haven’t grasped the true financial impact. Our landlord came to an agreement with us and hasn’t been paid since April. In over 15 years, we have not ONCE missed rent nor been late on a payment. When we can reopen, that debt is not forgiven; it has yet to be worked out.
Typically, most bars and nightclubs only survive 3 to 5 years of business, if that long. If we were to open today, just what we’d have to pay the landlord in back rent alone would take months to repay. With that, probably being limited to a severe capacity cut when we do enter Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan, it will likely equate to years to pay any arrears.
The state of Maryland has mandated that low-capacity bars and restaurants only be open with guests seated. I repeat, seated dining and visits only, with masks required when you are away from your seated table. No standing, mingling, or dancing would be permitted. Guests would not be allowed to break social distancing during their visit. The business owner takes on the legality of enforcing this and is subject to being closed and losing their business license to operate if they don’t enforce this fully.
The emotional support we have received from the community has been huge! We love our members. We sent them every penny they donated to them. We love that we were able to pay our staff with the support of members for a few months and a Cares PPP loan, which paid them for an additional 8 weeks. Unfortunately, our DJs are self-employed and were unable to receive the Cares PPP funds.
As I am sure most of you know, I try to be extremely hard to be transparent with our members. This may be an eye-opener for some, and many understand how painful this is for me (us). I am not sharing this for any other reason than to be open with you all.
The Uncertain Future
I don’t know what the future holds. I do know that we will ONLY operate legally, and we will put our staff and members’ health and safety first and foremost. I am hopeful that most of us will get through this physically unharmed. I’m an optimist at heart, but I’m not a psychic. I don’t know how this is all going to play out. I wish everyone well, and I hope to see you back at the club someday soon.
I do want to note that every State and each county around the United States has different guidelines that are also ever-changing. As club owners, I hope you are doing what needs to be done to maintain a healthy community. As patrons, I hope you do your research and know that you are attending events that are following your local authorities’ restrictions. It may not seem like much but being reckless in these times can have lifelong impacts on the lifestyle events as well. Our reputation as a community is at stake.
To the club owners such as “colette” that have gone above and beyond, I commend and respect you. Thank you for your sight as we are developing our opening plan for when the time does come.
I do know there will be clubs around the country that do not recover from this. I only hope that after 16 years, Tabu is one that survives and thrives once again.
Again, always the optimist!
Rick and Vicki
This letter originally appeared in the August 2020 issue of ASN Lifestyle Magazine.