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Why is the Palladium Ballroom a magnet for underage controversy?

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Palladium Ballroom
The Palladium Ballroom has been the backdrop for at least three serious controversies involving underage drinking since 2010.  Photo courtesy Palladium Ballroom
Palladium Ballroom
The general admission policy at the Palladium Ballroom means there are no age-restricted areas. Photo by Katie Hutchison/Palladium Ballroom
Palladium Ballroom
Palladium Ballroom

Dallas is home to a variety of concert venues, but one seems to hog all the underage controversy. The Palladium Ballroom most recently made headlines for playing host to a Ghostland Observatory concert where Highland Park High School student Ryan Romo met up with a co-ed who would later accuse him of rape.

The situation is serious, but it's far from the first cloud of controversy to settle over the historic building turned concert venue. In May 2010, a 15-year-old Highland Park girl was hospitalized with a .40 blood-alcohol-content after attending a concert at the Palladium. She made a full recovery, but her activities prompted the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Secret Service to investigate fake IDs in the area. Apparently, the examination didn't get very far.

 This is far from the first cloud of controversy to settle over the historic concert venue.

In January 2012, the Junior Symphony Ball rolled into the Palladium Ballroom. Reports vary widely on what went down at the JSB, but underage drinking was definitely on the short-list for the evening, as were designated puke stations and hook-up zones. 

Fast forward to the October 28 night in question, and details are still rolling in. WFAA reported on November 5 that Highland Park High School has punished around 30 students believed to have attended the Ghostland Observatory concert at the Palladium. The band's promoter, Juan Lopez, described the scene to Channel 8's Jason Whitely thusly:

"These were tiny, 4-foot-nothing girls losing control of their bodies and not being able to walk on their own," Lopez said in the interview, adding that the concert was packed with high schoolers who appeared drunk or high. 

The Palladium Ballroom doesn't have an age restriction across the board, but neither does Gexa Energy Pavilion, Verizon Theater in Grand Prairie or the House of Blues. Palladium is a general-admission venue, meaning there are no seats or restricted areas. This does lend itself to a more chaotic concert environment, but it is far from the smoking gun.

Perhaps the biggest reason the Palladium rocks the pubescent crowd so hard is its choice of performers. Suffice it to say Kenny G isn't likely to grace the ballroom stage anytime soon.

Attending a concert is a rite of passage, and no one wants to see teens banned from live music. But when one venue consistently stands out as a magnet for mayhem, is it time to pull the plug? 

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