YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — With airmen, dependents and civilians clamoring for more nightlife choices due to the lingering partial restriction on “Bar Row” outside the base, the Yokota Enlisted Club’s Shogun and Spectrum lounges soon will remain open an hour later on weekends and holidays.
Closing time is being pushed back Friday nights to 4 a.m. Saturday, hours that also will be in effect on nights before major holidays. Saturday evenings now will roll on until 3 a.m. Sunday.
The change is to begin Thursday night, when the club will close at 4 a.m. Friday. Friday is a “family day” holiday, one of a handful scheduled annually, when most personnel are off.
“We want to give people more of an option,” Michael Byrd, the Yokota Enlisted Club’s special events coordinator, said Saturday. “They need something to do after work to get their minds off their jobs.”
Byrd said Saturday the move comes in response to the 1-6 a.m. curfew covering an entertainment district outside Yokota in the town of Fussa.
The curfew was put in place indefinitely on May 9 after a string of incidents involving airmen on the base. It prohibits all Yokota servicemembers from being within a block of Akasen-dori — which lies near Honcho-dori and Fujimi-dori between the base and Fussa Train Station.
Since the curfew, many people have inquired about later hours for the enlisted club.
“We want to be the new ‘Bar Row,’” Byrd said. “Maybe this will keep troops, civilians and family members on base, and there won’t be so many problems off base as far as drinking and driving, getting into it with local nationals, things of that nature.”
Additional revenue for the club certainly was a consideration, he said. The change also means increased hours for some employees.
Club officials said they hope to attract customers by offering more drink specials, hip-hop nights, country and western nights and ladies nights. Live bands will play until lights out each weekend and the popular Tuesday night “Football Frenzy” gathering starts Sept. 13.
Yokota’s facility recently was named the 2005 Air Force Enlisted Club of the Year.
Yokota officials say the “Bar Row” curfew has produced the desired results: There have been no incidents or injuries involving a Yokota community member in the area since it took effect.