Saturday, September 29, 2007

Early Bar Closing Times: Underrated

Bars and clubs must close at 2:00 a.m. so night-life hot spots in downtown
Minneapolis, Uptown and near the University of Minnesota get crowded
relatively early.
That's from a profile about the Twin Cities here. The article seems to be saying places getting crowded relatively early is a bad thing. I beg to differ.

Here's my theory, which I wrote in the Arizona Daily Wildcat not long ago in response to Arizona moving back it's closing time from 1 AM to 2 AM:

Sometimes, laws that seem to restrict people actually help them out. Take traffic lanes, for example. Similarly, an early closing time for bars just makes sense. Bars are a unique good in that, unlike Disneyland, Wal-Mart or the golf course, patrons want to go where everyone else goes. And what is the only way for people to reliably find lots of other people at bars? Go between zero and three hours before closing. So pushing back closing only makes business start an hour later, but it forces a lot of people to mess up sleeping schedules even more.
Basically, what time to go out is a prisoner's dilemma. We would all benefit if we went out earlier. People could get to bed earlier, which would distort workers' and students' lives less. But because everyone else coordinates the same time around the closing time, we need to go out later to be out with everyone else.

I've seen this vary all over the world. In places without closing times like Rio, people start going out as late as 1 AM or 2 AM. On the other hand places with earlier closing times have people go out earlier. The biggest potential losers of an earlier closing time would be business owners, which might lose more business. But you might think it's also just as likely that with an earlier closing time you bring it closer to dinner eaters, and could increase the number of people that stay after dinner for drinks.

Just a with everything else, I would be interested to hear what friends/readers think about this.


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