Is a permit required to throw a large private party if there is no sale of alcohol and people do not pay for admission? 1 Answers as of November 19, 2015

Some friends and I want to start putting on private concerts at various locations (warehouses, sky scrapers, art galleries, etc) but I've been lead to believe that the laws surrounding this are really vague. We wouldn't be selling alcohol or tickets, but perhaps we would provide alcohol for free to people 21+ and the attendees would be members of a group we'd establish from our followers who pay a recurring monthly membership fee. Provided we're in good standing with the owner of the property, have full written permission to use the space, abide by all alcohol laws and don't rack up any noise complaints is there any reason we'd expect to get shut down?

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Lawyer for Independent Media | Sue Basko
This is a good question. I have answered questions on this site that are very similar to yours. You may want to look those up. You should work closely with a lawyer on your business project. Your exact needs will depend on the exact county, city, state and building where you will hold each party. It will also depend on whether your organization is a for profit, a nonprofit, a church, a school, or some other type of entity. It also depends on what sort of entertainment your group is providing, particularly if any of the entertainment is considered adult or sex entertainment. Any adult or sex based entertainment creates many more limitations and requirements. For any sort of gathering, two major factors are parking and insurance. In many locations, you will need to provide for parking nearby. That can be anything from letting the guests know where they can find nearby parking lots, to providing valet service, to shuttling guests in from a distant parking lot. In almost all locations, you will need to buy insurance to cover the event and name the owners of the building as being co-insured. Many buildings have an insurance company already and will be able to connect you up with a policy for a few hundred dollars. Other locations will require you to have insurance, but will leave you on your own to find it. Typical insurance amounts are one or two million dollars, which, depending on the nature of the gathering, will range from several hundred dollars on up. Insurance companies will refuse to insure any event or group that sounds too risky. Most places will require you to hire the security company that they work with regularly. Most locations also limit catering to companies they have approved. Buildings develop exclusive contracts with specific vendors for security, catering, bartending, valets, coat check, sound and lighting, and other such services. All of these considerations I have listed sound complex, but are not really. Work with a lawyer. Once you get the hang of running such events, all these considerations will come easily. Most potential venues have an events person on staff and that person can work it all out for you. In places that are experienced venues, it may be very simple and all you need to do is provide enough money, while the venue will provide everything you need. Consider calling a few potential event venues and speaking with them about what you want to do. They can give you an idea of the feasibility and costs involved. That sort of information gathering will be very valuable to you in formulating your business plans. Your events should be so well-planned and well-organized that they appear to the guests to be effortless.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/19/2015
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