September 18, by Nathaly Pesantez
As a Long Island City strip club that was a magnet for crime announced this weekend that it was closing, community leaders are saying that similar clubs in Western Queens may end up seeing similar fates, too.
Aces, the gentlemen’s club located at 32-10 37th Ave., announced last week that it was shutting down via a post on Instagram. “The Aces family would like to thank everyone…for one hell of a run,” the club’s post reads. “There will never be another Aces New York.” Later posts also signal that the club would be reluctantly shutting its doors.
Several violent incidents took place at the club over the years–from shootings to assaults–and the police were often called to the troubled venue. A May 2016 incident saw a gang-related shooting outside of the club; that same year, more than 250 “911” calls were made that were associated with the club.
State Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria), who had long called for the club to close and was outraged when the State Liquor Authority (SLA) reinstated Aces’ liquor license earlier this year, celebrated the strip joint’s closing after the SLA ultimately canceled its liquor license on Sept. 12.
“It is a success for our neighborhood to get this source of community unrest shut down, but we must remain vigilant,” Gianaris said in a statement.
The owner of Aces could not to be reached for comment.
But Aces’ closing, coupled with the site of the former troubled Club Purlieu in Astoria turning into a retail locale after its closure last year, could signal the demise of other problematic strip joints in Western Queens.
Antonio Meloni, head of the Public Safety for Community Board 1, said that the SLA is finally listening and taking note of the public’s opposition to these clubs.
“When it’s a troublesome location, it’s very good that the SLA is paying attention,” he said. “We have found that the SLA is more responsive.”
At nearby Community Board 2 where strip clubs have also been an ongoing issue, Patrick O’Brien, the chairperson for the Public Safety committee, says Aces’ closing is “a very good sign”, and hopes that the recent events mean a crackdown on similar problem sites.
“I don’t think any community wants these kinds of establishments in their midst,” O’Brien said, adding that gentlemen’s clubs, while allowed to operate as long as they’re within the law, almost always bring problems to a neighborhood. O’Brien referred to Show Palace, the strip club on 21st Street in Long Island City, that has operated without a liquor license since its opening, but still sees periodic incidents.
“When you have a residential and vibrant upcoming commercial community, it’s only a matter of letting out enough rope [for strip clubs] to hang themselves because this activity almost universally seems to follow.”
“When they overstep the boundaries of what is safe and appropriate, they are writing their own epitaphs,” he added.
Nevertheless, O’Brien does not think strip clubs will ever be eliminated from the district despite the apparent clampdown.
“You can compel them to be in line, and this is a sign of exactly that—if you don’t operate in an appropriate manner, you’re going to lose your business.”