"18 to party, 21 to drink" could soon be back, baby

" 21 to drink" could soon be back

Remember the days of hanging out with the cool kids at all-ages clubs and getting your older brother to buy you beers?

Well, unless you're at least in your late 20s now (or went to clubs that may have bent the rules), you shouldn't remember those days. That's because it's been nearly a decade since Atlanta banned under-21 customers from the city's bars and nightclubs.

(Keep in mind that the city defines a night spot by what kind of license it holds. Therefore, Tongue & Groove is a "nightclub," but the Masquerade is a "restaurant" and Opera is an "event facility.")

Anyway, the city appears to be getting ready to repeal the section of its code that prohibits young'uns from venturing into nightclubs and bars. Now, before you late Millennials get too excited, I should point out that state law already makes bars off-limits to anyone under 18.

In fact, it's because of the state law that Atlanta is forced to repeal its code section. Here's the short version: In 2001, Atlanta passed an ordinance prohibiting anyone under 21 from entering a bar unless he was employed there. In a 2007 measure aimed at underage strippers, the city removed that exception, rewriting the code to prohibit anyone under 21 from entering a bar for any reason.

Five 19- and 20-year-old Cheetah dancers soon filed a lawsuit challenging the ordinance and the case went all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court. Last September, the justices ruled unanimously that the city code was in violation of state law, which explicitly allows 18-year-olds to work in bars and nightclubs — even pouring booze that they're too young to legally drink. (Hey, we never said state law made sense.)

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