by Victor Lopez
ODESSA-- Whether or not they sell alcohol inside, determines how these kinds of clubs are regulated. But it's the stigma that's associated with them, that has one local owner trying to set the record straight.
"What most people see as an after hours club is basically, I can go over there to smoke and drink and do whatever I want to do," Area 358 Owner Carlos Castro, said.
Area 385 has been open and operating for less than a year. Castro says, the way he runs his place sets it apart from other after hour clubs, "We have a strict dress code. We don't let certain people in. If you're arguing on the phone, you're out. You argue with my waitresses, you're out. If you even look like you're trouble, we won't even let you in the club. It's a very big difference."
Area 385 is a BYOB (Bring Your Own Beer) club, meaning you can bring in your own alchol, since none is sold inside. That also means they aren't governed by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
"There's just not a lot of regulation that governs these types of clubs that offer somebody to come in and listen to music or dance and bring their own alcohol with them," Ector County Commissioner Dean Johnston, said.
Licensed bars and clubs have security at all times to make sure people are cut off when they need to be. Johnston says, that could be a problem in B.Y.O.B. clubs, "The security problem, in my opinion, is a lot greater because you have people bringing in their own alcohol and therefore they're not controlled as to how much alcohol they can consume like they are in a licensed bar, if you will."
With six bouncers on duty nightly, Castro says he's got that part covered and then some, "We have an armed guard. Nobody else around here has an armed guard. That makes a very big difference on as far as how you control everybody and what you do."
With no real authorities enforcing regulations, some say you are just asking for trouble.
"Anytime that you have an environment where people are consuming alcohol and there's no regulation govening how much they can consume, you're definitely looking for problems somewhere along the line," Johnston said.
Castro agrees, "Most after hours clubs are not regulated. That might be where the actual problem lies. That and the management."