I’ve been DJing in Prague clubs for several years now, and it’s always amazed me that there haven’t been more tragic fires like the one that occurred over the weekend in Ostrava. A man lit fireworks in the middle of the dance floor, and decorations on the ceiling caught fire, killing one woman and injuring 61 others.

I’ve seen fire code restrictions in every club I’ve worked in: paper decorations everywhere, most clubs with only one entrance/exit (and that up a long flight of stairs), and minimal ventilation. In short, some real death traps.

I appreciate the situation club owners find themselves in. They’re operating on tight margins, and frequently have to make difficult decisions about where to put their limited funds; nobody wants to waste money planning for occurrences that have a 1 in 10,000 chance of happening (or less).

In many US cities, the fire marshals wage war against nightclubs, and have the ability to close them down on the spot, which is one of the reasons many US cities’ nightlife is as dead as it is.

There has to be a balance somewhere, and my own hope would be that club owners would take a greater interest in safety on their own. Because if they don’t, the state will.

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