Police Shut Down 1,000-Teen Dance Party

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (STMW) — DJ and party promoter Ryan Levin threw the party of a lifetime Saturday night in Highland Park.

But the party got too big. Six teens were found to have consumed alcohol, and police were forced to shut it down early.

Nearly 1,000 North Shore teens, ranging from 14 to 18 years old, were reported to have attended, packing Highland Park’s Warehouse Gym and Boxing Club from wall-to-wall. About 800 teens were inside and another 150 were waiting in line outside, at 1660 Old Skokie Valley Road.

Levin, a 26-year-old local disc-jockey who graduated from Glenbrook South High School, provided the sound, lights and security after organizing the event with two Highland Park teens and their parents. Levin’s entertainment company, Mobile Teen Dance Club, charged $20 at the door and only water was sold inside.

He explained that the weekend teen parties began last year after a Wilmette teen approached him at an eighth-grade graduation party he was working at the Glencoe Beach. The idea turned into two backyard parties last year in Wilmette, one on Halloween, in which the host teen charged classmates to attend.

The concept expanded this year when Levin organized teen events at Stash’s Restaurant in downtown Highland Park. About 225 teens showed up on Jan. 21, Levin said, and a capacity crowd nearing 350 attended the most recent Stash’s party. Needing more space, Levin held his first party at the Warehouse Gym on April 26.

Word of the parties quickly began circulating on Facebook, and the two Highland Park teens and one from Wilmette began promoting them at school, setting the stage for Saturday night’s unpredictable turnout.

“Freshmen have nothing to do on weekends,” Levin said. “They are good kids that aren’t drinking or doing drugs, so I thought why not throw parties where they can come. Only (six) kids were found to be bad apples. The whole idea behind it is to promote a fun, safe party, without the use of alcohol or drugs.

“This isn’t Charlie Sheen’s type of party,” he continued. “It’s a Chuck E. Cheese’s type of party. It’s a kids party, not a night club.”

Levin hires security, encourages adult supervision, and does not allow attendees to bring bags or purses into the dance area. Attendees were also not allowed to come back in if they leave.

“It just got kind of out of hand,” Levin said. “We were prepared for 600 to 800 kids, not over 1,000.”

Police were ultimately notified of the party at 8:30 p.m. Saturday by a parent concerned about the size of the expanding party after dropping off a child, said David Schwarz, Highland Park’s deputy police chief.

When officers arrived, they found the place to be packed beyond a safe capacity and a handful of teens allegedly under the influence of alcohol. Six teens were taken into custody and released to their parents. Their punishments will be adjudicated through the Police Department’s juvenile officer, Schwarz said, and no arrests or citations were made.

It took nearly an hour to clear the place out.

“It was dangerous,” Schwarz said of the crowds. “There were kids and youth throughout the building to such an extent that the officers found it difficult to move through the crowd to locate the adults who were on the scene and to have the DJ turn the music down. There were a number of youth outside the building, too, waiting to get in. They weren’t unruly but it was still a significant number of people and near the road enough that there was a concern there, too.

“That is why we felt it was necessary to shut the establishment down,” Schwarz continued. “Due to the overcrowding, and it turned out there were six underage youth that displayed signs of intoxication from alcohol. There was no indication that it was sold or served there, but they were under the influence nonetheless, so there were some safety concerns there, too.”

The city’s Fire and Community Development departments are investigating whether building codes or acceptable use restrictions were violated.

“We are reviewing the situation to see if there are violations or other things that they need to correct if the establishment can be utilized again in the future,” Schwarz said. “We hope to have that finalized and evaluated by the end of the week.”

Levin, still proud of the safe parties that his company has hosted, plans to throw another at the Warehouse Gym this weekend.

“The whole goal is to do this on a weekly basis to give the kids an outlet,” said Levin who has been disc jockeying since he was 15 years old. “There has to be a place for kids to go and have fun.

© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2011. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

  • Neat

    I think this is a great outlet for kids, how neat! The DJ seems very responsible and concerned of safety and no alcohol/drugs hence the security guards, doorcheck and parent supervision requested. They just didnt expect so many kids and probably never thought of doing a head count.

  • Martha Davidson

    I am sorry you did not want my comment. You erased my typing when you gave me the reject. page.

    Hence, only a short comment this time. This is absolutely great and I agree with Neat. My original comment had detail about how this kind of event was available to me every Friday night in my Chicago public highschool, and in a family’s basement every Saturday night. All safety precautions were in place at each venue and we had a safe place to go every weekend.

  • Mark

    That’s 2000 irresponsible parents who say, but really don’t love their kids. Over crowding can kill in a crisis like a fire outbreak or a simple drive-by shooting. $20 bucks at the door for a kid is criminal. I can’t imagine any insurance company willing to cover such an event. As for the six bad apples, it only takes one as you know to cause a stampede. Then there are 1000 law suits and the tax payer loses again. Where are the fines for breaking numberous zoning codes????

  • gee-reg

    Easy to to tell that the party goers were white——–NO GUNS —NO FIGHTS—NO SHOOTINGS——NO RAPES—– JUST A PARTY

    • Gregg

      Excellent point, gee. If this had been black teenagers, the violence would have been out of control. Someone would have certainly been killed.

  • law abiding citizen

    gee-reg you are right on the money but let me tell you these kids will be clients for the drug dealers in the future. Do you know who are the no. 1 drug users in this country?Yes you are right white people,they have the money, the cars and police do not bother them. If Hollywood gets tested for drugs would anybody pass a drug test? I doubt it very much.

    • Gee-reg

      Do you know who is the number one race to be sitting around all day and night doing nothing but drugs and drinking ????? That’s right—them black folks !!! You say them white people have the money and cars, well you are right because they WORK you know a J-O-B. Something them black folks can never find and never want to because the government supports them from cradle to grave…..

  • Greg

    I think the comments on this topic took a turn for the worst. But, let’s cover the tangent first. It doesn’t matter the color of your skin, white, black, yellow, orange, red etc… It’s the area the EVENT is held in and the type of party it is advertising. This event was held in a Suburban area with secured cards and parents supervisor it’s not a normal party where the BAD Apples normally like to go too.
    I believe this is right on the money of an event that needs to be held for Teens. There is a lot of free time on the weekends for teens to get into trouble. Providing an event that is meant for them to have a little freedom and fun is nothing short of a GREAT THING.
    For the person that says parents then do not care. That’s 100% crazy. Teens will do what they want no matter what. They will lie to your face if need be. The best parents are those that are able to have open and honest conversation with their young adults. So grow the up Parents and learn a little bit about your teen ages.
    Twenty dollars is nothing for the cost of renting a place like that. Paying for lights, security, and insurance for anything that might happen on the sight of the party. Trust me; providing entertainment for teens is not a cheap matter.

  • Gee-reg

    So if this was held in the suburb of Ford Heights, Robbins, Harvey etc…etc…etc… then nothing would have happened right ??? Because we all know nothing happens in the suburbs . P.S. It’s Gee-reg — not greg

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  • Helen

    FYI WAAAAAAY more the 6 kids were intoxicated looks like the north shore has more than a few bad apples

  • megan

    Helen, that’s 6 kids out of over 800 kids. You wouldn’t find odds like that at those underground raves that are held in chicago, it would be more like 6 kids that are clean and sober out of 800 kids high on drugs and or drunk.

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