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Stony Pony Owner Holds Press Conference

Aired February 21, 2003 - 15:21   ET


ARTHEL NEVILLE, CNN ANCHOR: OK, everybody, we're going to go to Asbury Park, New Jersey, right now. The Stone Pony nightclub, where owner, Domenic Santana is talking about his experience with Great White.
DOMENIC SANTANA, OWNER, STONE PONY NIGHTCLUB: Before we go into advance mode, which is usually a week out, our general manager calls the tour manager and advances all the details. With that in details, we speak with lighting, you speak about sound, you speak about hospitality, you speak about accommodation, you speak about transportation, you speak about many issues and you try to get a handle of what exactly -- who, what, when, and where. On this event, on February 14, not once were we told that there were going to be any pyrotechnics whatsoever. Therefore, you move into your production date.

Your production date is when the stage manager meets -- you meet loaders, you meet the technical team, you get the show to roll in. You position everybody and everybody knows who, what, when and where. At that point, we still did not know that they were going to have any pyrotechnics. Basically, the final stage, when it's show time, when the show strikes and you see these flash pots, sparklers, pyrotechnics, whatever you want to call them, your stage manager and your security now becomes on high alert status.

I was in the back office myself and I heard through the radio communications, "What the hell is going on," for we did not know that they were going to have pyrotechnics for we would not have allowed them to have pyrotechnics. At that point, Chris, the stage manager for the night, ran over to the tour manager and asked him, "What the hell are you doing? You have to stop right now. We do not allow pyrotechnics." At that point, security was on the area ready to move in and stop the show. By that time, it fizzled out and the show went on without a hitch. Thank god that we're still here today to speak about that.

Basically, it's just very sad to know that right now, we personally are affected by it, for I've taken it as a terrorist threat that band members come in and allow position -- the safety of people's lives on the line without us knowing. So, after today, we'll have meetings on what to look for, for the future, not to allow this situation to ever happen again. At this point, I just want to invite Jim -- Jim, you want to take the mic first? Where's Jimbo?

QUESTION: Spell your name. SANTANA: Domenic, d-o-m-e-n-i-c Santana, s-a-n-t-a-n-a. I'll come back for questions and answers. But, I just want these guys to give you their side.

JIM MACDONALD, DJ: On that evening, I was here as a DJ. However in other venues, in other situations, I'm normally the one presented with these problems, such as if a promoter is requested to provide pyrotechnics or provide the situation for pyrotechnics; they'll call me to have a state license pyrotech on the premises. If they had, I could have had the guy from kiss here, but we did not know. I happened to be here, with no knowledge of what was going on, was walking away from the stage, noticed it was going on behind me, stopped dead in my tracks and just kind of hoped nothing would happen. If something happened, hoped I could field it properly. I do feel really bad for both the club industry as a whole and in particular, for all the people that were hurt in that fire, and I do hope that we all manage to recover from it. I kind of am speechless on the subject, it's one of those heavy things.

QUESTION: Say who you are, again?

MACDONALD: I'm Jim MacDonald. I've been part of this industry and this house for a great many years. It would normally be my problem to deal with these situations. Is there anything I can...


MACDONALD: MacDonald? m-a-c capital d-o-n-a-l-d.

SANTANA: All right, well, basically, Jim has a lot of experience. He's done various shows. He's a freelance production guy; he's one of the best out there, done mega, big, world class shows. So, you know, his expertise, you know, to a venue like this, you know, we count on people like him to be able to spot and, you know, check on things and you know, it's all by the wayside.

QUESTION: Jack Russell, the lead singer this morning said he'd gone to the club manager and got permission. Do you think that's diverting his responsibility?

SANTANA: In this venue, he did not get permission from nowhere?

QUESTION: He said he did.

SANTANA: Yeah, I'm speaking right now on this venue, they did do pyrotechnics and they did not have any whatsoever inclination as far as that we would allow such ...

QUESTION: He says he didn't tell you, but says he told the Rhode Island club.

SANTANA: All I know is that, you know, once I heard that this morning -- that he had told them -- to me as a club owner, if he had told them why didn't then the club have fire extinguishers to be able to extinguish it. So that to me, right there tells me; if you were to have told me that you were going to do pyrotechnics and if I didn't have fire extinguishers on stage, which they would have been able to extinguish it, something's wrong there.

QUESTION: More of the blame should be on the promoter and the band?

SANTANA: On the band.

QUESTION: Than the owners of the nightclub?

SANTANA: Absolutely. Absolutely.

QUESTION: So you really believe in your heart, that these owners did not know the band was going to use pyrotechnics?

SANTANA: From experience. You're looking at him. We did not know, and they did it right here. And we could have been in the situation that many people were last night.

So right now, the guy who I'm going to have his head for, because he was responsible for allowing this to slip by, and he's kind of nervous because he realized the pressure that we're going to be putting on the whole system in procedures here, he was the stage manager, so he's basically responsible for what happened on this stage. Chris?

QUESTION: Can you give us your name, and spell it, please?

CHRIS GLOWACKI, STAGE MANAGER, STONE PONY: Chris, C-h-r-i-s. Glowacki, G-l-o-w-a-c-k-i. My position that night was stage manager.

QUESTION: Can you tell us what happened then?

GLOWACKI: During that night, as you've already heard, I was not informed that there were going to be any pyrotechnics involved in this show.

I feel that in a situation where there are pyrotechnics, since I am generally the contact between the band and the club, if the club has not already been told, then I definitely should be told by the band, in which event I would then go to the club owner or manager and say, "Is this OK?"

QUESTION: Describe what you saw and your surprise when these pyrotechnics began.

GLOWACKI: My surprise is very, very inexplicable. I had absolutely no expectation that there would be any pyrotechnics that night.

And my shock was, you know, oh, my God, what's happening? What's going to happen next? You know, how is this going to have an effect on us?

You know, is the ceiling, is the stage, anything going to happen, or is this going to go on without incident and thank God, that night, there were no incidents. We were lucky.

QUESTION: Was this right off the bat when the show started? Describe how it all began.

GLOWACKI: Great white takes the stage and during their first song, they come on stage just as they did last night, as already seen in the videotaping. They come on stage, the music starts, and the sparks, the pyrotechnics are somewhat of an introduction, a crowd thriller, like you would see on a professional wrestling show or something else. Very similar.

It's just, it's basically to excite the crowd at the beginning of their set.


GLOWACKI: Yes. I was afraid that something is going to happen by those sparks coming off the stage, because I have never dealt with pyrotechnics in this club. I have never, honestly, dealt with pyrotechnics in any other club.

Yes, I have seen pyrotechnics before, but in a much bigger arena. And again, had we been informed that there were going to be pyrotechnics, we could have taken some necessary precautions to either make sure that everything was going to be safe, that the pyrotechnics were going to be limited, or get rid of the pyrotechnics altogether before they were even set off. Which would have most likely been the course of action.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) might change rock 'n' roll. Can you guess how it might change?

GLOWACKI: Unfortunately, because of a lack of, lack of age and in-depth experience, I would not be able to predict how anything would change. All I can say for myself is only time will show me what will happen.

That may be a question better addressed to one of the older people on site.

QUESTION: I don't quite understand one aspect of your description. If the band started with pyrotechnics, at the beginning of their show, why wasn't it stopped right then and there? Why was it allowed to continue?

GLOWACKI: Why was the show allowed to continue?

QUESTION: The pyrotechnics.

GLOWACKI: There were no other pyrotechnics throughout the show. It was that one incident of pyrotechnics. There were no returning pyrotechnics throughout the show.

QUESTION: How long did it last, seconds, minutes?

GLOWACKI: Seconds.

QUESTION: Somebody may have asked this already. Did they sneak this stuff on? How did you miss it? GLOWACKI: During a set change like that, there are many things that need to be done.

The band that is on the stage before the headlining act, in this case, needs to be removed from the stage. Their equipment moved out of the loading area, directly to stage right, because we need to make room for the headlining act to get on the stage, bring some extra equipment onto the stage that we needed to do move earlier to make room for opening acts.

QUESTION: Are you saying it was probably brought on between sets, between acts?

GLOWACKI: Yes. And in the course...

QUESTION: And it was overlooked?

GLOWACKI: Yes. In that course of action, during that time, during those few minutes of the changeover, there are many responsibilities that I am going through, like I said, getting the other band off the stage, getting the headliners' gear on the stage, making sure that the artists get from the dressing room to the stage.

There are many aspects that I'm looking at that one time. And the piece could have easily been snuck onto the stage without my noticing.

QUESTION: What do they look, a couple of stands, flash pots, or sparklers? Or what?

GLOWACKI: It would be...

QUESTION: You must have seen them after the fact, right, what they looked like? Are they short stubby things? What came out of them?

GLOWACKI: That I cannot describe very much. Because I did not -- I did not, before the pyrotechnics happened see the piece that projected them, and after the show, also, really did not get a good look at what was launching the pyrotechnics.

QUESTION: When it went off, what did it look like to you?

GLOWACKI: There were just sparks flying in directions, up from the stage. Towards the ceiling, bounced back down a little bit. Again, we were very fortunate.

QUESTION: Bounce into the crowd at all?

GLOWACKI: No, down on to the stage. Similar to the video you saw this morning.

SANTANA: We actually, unlike the video did have less than Rhode Island had. We only had the centerpiece that you see in that footage, which was placed in front of the drums. We did not have the two outside pieces that you see in that. I guess that the ceiling was a little higher up in Rhode Island and they thought that they could do it.

This morning, I spoke with a professional pyrotechnician who handles the Meadowlands and many other venues.

And he let me know one of the requirements, before they enter the state of New Jersey or any other state, they are required to notify the state authorities that they are carrying that magazine with them, and then, you know, also notifying us to take the proper precautions.

One of the things about it that, you know, when I first noticed it I thought that that band were putting themselves at great risk. Our ceiling's just over ten foot and the sparks were bouncing back, you know, quite feverishly. And between, you know, their hair, their clothing and their eyes, I thought that they themselves were putting themselves at risk.

NEVILLE: We've been listening to a news conference coming out of Asbury Park, New Jersey. The club is the Stone Pony. Domenic Santana, owner of that club, said Great White performed there February 14, used pyrotechnics in the show, and did not get approval.


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