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Women sue Spin nightclub
by Sam Worley
2010-03-10

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The Boystown nightclub Spin became the subject of a lawsuit last week regarding a contractual dispute. The suit, filed Friday in Cook County Circuit Court, alleges that representatives of Spin failed to fulfill the terms of an arrangement made when plaintiffs Andrea Cruzatti and Maria Christina Wiesmore—acting as A&C Productions—booked and promoted a February show by Kid Sister.

Both Cruzatti and Wiesmore are former employees of the nightclub; Wiesmore worked there briefly around two years ago and left on good terms, and Cruzatti left following the Kid Sister show.

The defendants named in the suit are Spin's owner, David Gassman, and general manager Robert Hoffman. The suit alleges that Wiesmore and Cruzatti were not paid their part of the show's revenue, which had been previously agreed upon. In addition to court costs, the suit seeks an unspecified amount of money for breach of contract and "damage to the reputation of the Plaintiffs."

Cruzatti left Spin last month alleging that, in addition to the specific contractual dispute, the nightclub was hostile to women and people of color. Though both plaintiffs declined to talk to Windy City Times, Cruzatti told blog writer Kate Carolan that Hoffman had disagreed with the promotional activity the pair had done for the Kid Sister show; after they promoted the show on the west side, for instance, Cruzatti said that Hoffman told her, "Those west side lesbians can keep their money."

Carolan's article also quoted Hoffman as telling another employee—after that employee, Melissa Benge, had promoted the show at a largely Latina venue—"We don't want those kinds of lesbians in our club."

A "Boycott Spin" group on Facebook, which has more than 600 members, contained a raft of complaints against the nightclub, largely critical of the way that its staff and management treat women and people of color. Many comments on the page say that Spin has discriminated against those communities for a long time. Kate Carolan, in an interview with Windy City Times, said about her impetus for writing the blog post, "I've been hearing these stories forever about how Spin was screwing the lesbian community. ( Windy City Times attempted to contact the administrator, but has received no response. )

"The management is exploiting our community," Carolan said, "but we give them our business."

Owner David Gassman was critical of the public way in which controversy has played out. "It's a contract dispute," Gassman said, though due to the lawsuit, he wouldn't comment on the specific details of the disagreement. "If you have a contract dispute, you take it to the appropriate venue."

Gassman characterized the controversy surrounding Spin as "bullshit."

"I don't even care what they say," he said. "I know who I am and I know what I've done."

Although Spin manager Hoffman wasn't available for comment after the lawsuit was filed, he told Windy City Times earlier last week that the disagreement was "basically a contract dispute."

"That's not something that's anybody else's business," Hoffman said.

He also rejected complaints that Spin is unfriendly to lesbians, calling the Facebook boycott a "smear campaign."

"Our reputation speaks for itself," Hoffman said. "Spin has been the only bar on Halsted that's embraced the lesbian community."

The plaintiffs' attorney, Nicole Bashor, said that the lawsuit her clients had filed was not related to the charges of racism and misogyny. "It's possible that there are other things going on with that," Bashor said, though she declined to comment further.

The boycott of Spin marks the second high-profile boycott of a local LGBT nightclub in recent memory: last August, activists targeted Hunters Night Club, in Elk Grove Village, after it instituted a policy that required patrons' physical appearances to match the gender identity on their identification. Activists said that policy served as a de facto exclusion of trans people.

Kate Sosin, who worked on the Hunter's protests, wrote a blog post last week contrasting the amount of attention the Spin boycott had received vis a vis the Hunter's protests.

"In the end," Sosin wrote, "just over 300 people joined the [ F ] acebook group over the course of four months. I sometimes ask gay, lesbian, and bisexual identified people if they support the Hunters Boycott. They usually ask me what that is."

Sosin told Windy City Times that, though the amount of attention the two boycotts have received has varied widely, the issues are similar: "You have people who are running these spaces that are not actively thinking about issues of privilege," Sosin said.

In the interest of full disclosure, Spin Nightclub is a regular advertiser in Windy City Media Group's Nightspots.


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