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Villa Park asks that you not dance on the bar, please
By Kathryn Grondin | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 8/27/2008 10:17 AM

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Patrons in Villa Park taverns may have to think twice about how they dance if a new local law is enacted.

The village board once again is considering prohibiting tavern patrons from dancing on the bars, tabletops and chairs. In addition, a companion measure would penalize bar employees caught intoxicated while on the job.

A somewhat different village board considered and rejected the same restrictions two years ago.

"Do we want to give the image of the tattooed person dancing on the table?" Trustee Richard Illian said. "We're trying to clean up the village. We have an image to protect."

Village President Joyce Stupegia said she revived the measure because she believes it is an issue of safety as well as community image.

When Stupegia initiated the measures in 2006, she said she was concerned in her capacity as the village's liquor commissioner when she saw a tavern employee with a beer in his hand while he was checking patron IDs at the door. She said she also saw patrons dancing on the bar at another establishment.

Illian questioned how an intoxicated bartender could be expected to judge whether a patron should continue to receive alcoholic drinks. He and Trustee John Davis suggested the board amend the measure to heighten the restriction further to zero tolerance for employees drinking.

Trustees Al Bulthuis and Tom Cullerton disagreed with the proposed restrictions.

"I wouldn't want anyone dancing on tabletops, but is this something we should regulate?" Bulthuis asked. "If a bar owner wants to subject himself to the liability of someone getting hurt ... that's a liability that's up to him. It's intrusive to an extent on the village's part."

Resident and former bar owner Scott Shepard also spoke against the proposal.

"Dancing on the bar -- you're taking away their freedom of expression," Shepard said. "I don't think this board or this town should walk into a business and tell them how to run their business."

Shepard said he agrees that it's "irresponsible" for a bar owner to allow employees to drink while serving: "They should have their wits about them."

But it should be up to the business owner to manage his or her business, Shepard said. Bar owners already must adhere to a plethora of regulations and don't need to be micromanaged, he added.

The board is expected to take a final vote on the proposed restrictions at its Sept. 8 meeting.