Wilmington bars relieved after private club membership law repealed

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A 40-year-old law requiring bar patrons to pay for memberships to get into private bars has been repealed, and many local bar owners and goers say they’re relieved.

“I mean I think them getting rid of it is a good thing,” said bar goer, Lindsey Kidd. “I mean, who does it benefit?”

Thursday, Governor Roy Cooper signed bill 768 into law after it was approved by the general assembly, appealing the rule. The 1982 law has affected Blue Post since it opened.

“Nobody wants to stand in a really long line to fill out a piece of paper with their name and address and why they want to be a member of your bar,” said Blue Post part-owner, Barbara Weetman. “It feels invasive, it’s a big waste of time, it feels inhospitable.”

Kidd visits Wilmington for the Fourth of July every year, but didn’t want to wait in the line as it rained.

“Especially down here, it’s such a nice little town,” she continued. “People just want to pop in a bar and grab a drink. You don’t want to fill out a membership just to sit down for five or ten minutes.”

Weetman says the North Carolina specific rule often puts her bouncers in uncomfortable situations with angry out of towners.

“It absolutely put a lot more stress on what is already a stressful position.”

After filling out forms, bar patrons would be issued a card with the bar’s rules and their name. Weetman says private clubs had to document every single member and their information. She and her staff are thrilled about the change.

“We had to keep all of that stuff on file. I had to keep boxes and boxes of that stuff in the office! I hope we make a bonfire and burn it,” she laughed.

While a number of Wilmington bars said they were happy about the change, some told us the old membership rules helped management keep track of those who have been kicked out, keeping staff and customers safe by keeping them from coming back in.

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