Clubs: First, The Safety Spiel

Before a band takes the stage at Jaxx, a rock club in Springfield, Va., owner Jay Nedry takes the microphone for some announcements. And since last month's Rhode Island club fire, he's been starting off with a speech that sounds familiar to anyone who's been on an airplane. "Here are the exits, we have four," he says, pointing, flight-attendant style, to the front and back of the club. He tells the crowd about the backup generator that will keep lights burning in an emergency, and the glow-in-the-dark arrows on the floor. "You don't want to put a downer on things, but you also need to ratchet up the attention level here," says Nedry, whose club routinely hosted the band Great White. (In fact, the band had been scheduled to play at Jaxx the night after the Rhode Island fire.) As they do on airplanes, some people ignore the safety talk, but many pay attention. "A lot of people come up and say, 'This is really cool, we appreciate it'," says Nedry, who's considering holding fire drills to see how quickly the 500-capacity club can be evacuated.

Other nightclub owners say they may copy the safety announcements. Among them: the club 9:30 in Washington, D.C. In suburban Boston last week, one venue posted a sign on its door: "Due to recent tragedies, please take a moment to identify all fire exits." Robert Plotkin, president of the National Bar & Restaurant Association, calls the here-are-the-exits speech "a marvelously well-conceived safety idea," and says his group will discuss it at its first-ever safety conference in Las Vegas on March 26. "I can't imagine why anybody would not [do it.]"