SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ – It was once the epicenter of nightlife at the Jersey Shore. The boulevard in Seaside Heights from the 1980’s through the 2000’s was the epitome of Jersey Shore’s “After Dark” party. Today, the Boulevard remains essentially abandoned. What once boasted a row of night clubs packed with partiers is now an abandoned district anchored by the steel hulk skeleton that is a reminder of days gone by.
Last month, the Bamboo was sold at auction for $1,200,000 but this week, the owners of that night club, Karma and Merge said the auction house was not authorized to sell the building for less than $1,500,000. So for now, the future of the three clubs remains uncertain. No bids were received for the former Karma building.
The two clubs were made world-famous during MTV’s hit television show Jersey Shore. Owners claimed the borough targeted their businesses and patrons. In 2018, John Saddy, who owns the three locations sued the borough of Seaside Heights for overaggressive law enforcement of his guests.
Saddy claimed the Seaside Heights mayor, council and police department had implemented and maintains an unconstitutional, discriminatory and racist policy, practice and/or custom of discouraging and limiting African-American and LGBTQ (Lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, queer/questioning) visitors to Seaside Heights after sub-culture themed events were held at their night clubs.
The lawsuit was filed after borough officials pressured Saddy to stop hosting hip-hop and rap based entertainment at his clubs. Saddy claimed that he and the town were at odds over the clientele the clubs were attracting and accused the borough’s “family town” position as being a cover for “straight” and “white” visitors only.
The borough responded to the lawsuit as calling it full of outrageous, false and inflammatory allegations.
Saddy blamed the failure of the nightclubs on the borough after a May 2018 police raid during a hip-hop event caused the promoter to cancel all future events. Police arrested four and accused the club of serving alcohol to underage guests. Police also claim they responded to six overdoses at the club that weekend.
Karma has been closed since 2018 after borough officials refused to renew the establishment’s liquor license.
Saside Heights has launched a serious effort to rebrand the town from an out-of-control party town to a family-friendly destination that can compete with the likes of Point Pleasant, Ocean City and Wildwood. So far, it has been an uphill struggle for the town to polish its tarnished image.
After more than 30 years of being a party town, changes won’t come overnight.
When the night-club scene on the Boulevard went through its heyday in the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s,families through almost two generations began taking their business elsewhere. The town catered for decades to the MTV crowd, hosting MTV”s Beach House, Jersey Shore, and outdoor concerts on the beach catering to the college-aged crowds…and wondered why families weren’t coming back.
In the days of Baby O’s and the adjoined Yakety Yak Cafe partiers of all ages mingled along the boulevard, each club with its own niche crowd. Teen nights at the bars were actually a thing back then as young high school kids were given an early taste of the bar and night club scene.
Underage drinking and drugs were a commonplace in Seaside Heights “back in the day” and even as late as 2015 when a huge heroin mill and stash house was shutdown in a massive operation known as “Tidal Wave”
The steel-framed hulk that replaced the two clubs was supposed to be the next generation of party venues at the shore, including a pool themed night club, but that project is dead according to the owner, but now it remains vacant as the owner is trying to sell the property.
For now Seaside Heights remains in a zone that has one foot trying to get the borough into the future as a family destination, but the other foot is still stuck in a concrete block of the past as the future of the Boulevard is wrought with uncertainty as the beachfront continues to rebuild in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy and the 2013 fire.