The mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando happened just hours before Philadelphia Pride, a celebration that brings thousands of LGBTs to Penn’s Landing, many of whom continue the festivities in the Gayborhood afterwards.
Police presence was noticeably beefed up at last year’s Pride and a number of local LGBT venues instituted enhanced security measures, which have largely remained.
Woody’s had long checked oversized bags such as backpacks and, after Pulse, extended the bag check to all carry-in items.
“We’ve always checked big bags for things like guns, knives, anything unsafe, liquor,” explained Woody’s co-owner Michael Weiss. “But then after Orlando, we started checking pocketbooks also.”
Before the shooting, the club allowed those carrying large bags to come and go with only one check, but has since tightened that rule.
“Sometimes you’ll have a situation where somebody will come in and leave to go out and smoke or meet a friend and they wouldn’t have gotten searched again. Before Orlando, they’d be let back in but now we check people every time they come back in,” Weiss said.
The club’s security team also conducts quick pat-downs on patrons, and Weiss said he has long hired a Philadelphia police officer to patrol outside the club for added protection.
“Acts of terrorism continued around the world,” Weiss said. “Airports, big venues where you see a performer, anywhere that has a large amount of people at once, all have these security measures. The extra second of inconvenience is worth it.”
Tabu has continued bag checks throughout the year, depending on factors like crowd size and security capacity, owner Jeff Sotland said.
“We may not do bag checks every night, but when we do them, we do them across the board for that night. We do not pick and choose amongst customers on those nights,” he said.
Sotland added the venue has increased the number of security personnel it hires and expanded the number of hours they work. All security staffers are certified, he said.
Most patrons are understanding of extra security measures in the wake of the Pulse shooting, Sotland noted.
“There are some people who are just not going to be understanding, period — whatever it is,” he said. “But we do the best we can and for the most part everybody understands.”