a charlotte street 15 year anniversary project considering the history and future of artist-driven pioneering in Kansas City and the changing nature of the city's "frontiers"
It is my turn to write the blog post for our Frontier project group this week. I had some ideas I was tossing around about the artificiality of the district, the architecture, the clientele. I was even going to talk about how I would have liked the place back when I was a college student and loud music, beer, and drunken dancing had some appeal for me. But on this past Friday the 13th, something happened….it seems that there was way too much “power” at the Power and Light District that night.
The story starts with three of us photographers (two ladies and one guy) meeting up to experience the Power and Light night life scene once more before we put together the final choices of images for The Frontier show opening April 20. We met at 10 pm and had fun walking around, observing people having fun, snapping their photos, and stopping for beers. No one seemed to mind having their picture taken and plenty of revelers even posed for us. The guy in our group was especially playful, darting here and there, charming the ladies into posing for his quaint plastic point and shoot film camera. Then he made the mistake of wandering into an “employees only” service area: not a closed-off space but an area to which the door was wide open. Being curious, he walked in but then quickly saw there wasn’t much of visual photographic interest so he turned around to leave. That was when the plainclothes “powerful” security guard grabbed him and shouted, “What the f*** were you doing in there?” An explanation about being a photographer and wandering in to look around evidently wasn’t good enough. A more polite representative of a business establishment would have informed a wayward patron that they were in a restricted area, and asked them to leave. Instead, the guard asked again, “What the f*** were you doing in there?” while pushing my friend into the wall, holding him with one hand and pinning him with the other arm. He radioed for help on his walkie-talkie. As my friend waited for the uniformed security to arrive, he called me over, saying, “Hey Deanna, I’m in trouble here.”
They took him into the service area and closed the door. The other lady photographer and I were uncomfortable with our friend being in there alone with all those security guards. So I opened the door and went in to ask him if he was all right and ask them what they were doing. They wanted to know if I was with him. I said I was, that there were three of us. They told me that we should go meet him by the car, that they were making him leave. We met outside on the sidewalk along Walnut Street. So the three of us walked away from the Power and Light District, and an evening that had started out as fun ended with sour, scary feelings. We were shaken and disturbed at how one of us had been man-handled. The guards that were supposed to have been protecting us from harm seemed to have been looking for trouble.
– Deanna Dikeman