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Parties to end early for conventioneers

The party designer is all lined up, the $1,000-a-head guest list is rounded out with Ben Affleck, Billy Baldwin, and Sean Astin, and the superchic Louis Boston is finalized as the setting. But there's one thing this convention bash won't be doing, and that's rocking into the night. Not in Boston.

The city denied its application to let the Red Hot Chili Peppers play until midnight. They have to quit at 11. And they're not the only ones being told they can't go late. Parties around the city are being turned down for requests to go into the early morning during the week of the Democratic National Convention.

Nightclubs like Felt and The Rack asked to stay open later than the city's 2 a.m. bar and restaurant curfew and were denied, as were Stephanie's on Newbury Street and Jacques in Bay Village. Several North End cafes, hoping to serve cappuccino to sleepy delegates after hours were also told no.

In a city that sprang from Puritan roots, even John F. Kerry apparently doesn't have the juice to keep a celebration going. A request to let a party in his honor at Avalon continue until 3 a.m. was denied.

''There will be nothing past 2 a.m.," declared Patricia A. Malone, director of the Mayor's Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing. ''There are public safety issues. The city doesn't have the resources to allow for the operation of a licensed premise after the legal closing time."

To some delegates and other out-of-towners expecting to let their hair down at the convention -- many of them accustomed to later closing times in their hometowns or no closing times at all -- Boston's prohibitions seemed almost prudish.

''We're used to a 24-hour town," said Adriana Martinez, chairwoman of the Nevada Democratic Party, ''especially since most of our delegates are from Las Vegas." With the three-hour time difference between there and the East Coast, she added, Boston's 2 a.m. closings will feel like 11 p.m. to her delegation, and some may be just getting warmed up.

Shutting down early is, according to Patrick B. Moscaritolo, president of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, ''part of the Boston package."

''It's what you get when you choose Boston," he said. ''You get the history, the uniqueness of Boston, the fact that it's an easy city to get around and has great museums and attractions. But you also get the 2 o'clock closing -- that kind of continued overlay of 300 years of the Puritan ethic."

Not so in New York, of course. Republicans meeting in August will be free to hit bars and clubs until 4 a.m.

''So what?" said Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who said he considered letting some restaurants and clubs stay open past 2 a.m. but decided against it, partly because he didn't want to be accused of favoritism. ''Boston is unique; our commercial districts abut residential districts. We've done well with the hours in the past."

Talk of history and Puritan ethic notwithstanding, nightspot owners chafe at the restrictions, especially during a week when some 35,000 visitors are expected and wallets will be open.

''For the size of our city and the pride with which we regard it, we have very early closing hours," said Alan Eisner, spokesman for the Massachusetts Hospitality Association, which represents more than 100 bars, clubs, and restaurants. ''This has been something the industry has been pushing for a long, long time. We've met with neighborhood and, therefore, political opposition."

Meg Mainzer-Cohen, executive director of the Back Bay Association, a business organization, said extending the hours would have been ''good for business and good for Boston."

For their part, convention party organizers say they are presented with a challenge in staging sophisticated celebrations that can't really get going until convention events conclude at the FleetCenter.

At Louis Boston, the Red Hot Chili Peppers planned to play outside the Berkeley Street clothing store starting at 10:30 p.m., but with the city enforcing a permit that allows them to play only until 11, the rock band will have to go on before many of the guests have arrived, said Debi Greenberg, the store's owner. ''It makes it very hard," she said.

Mindy d'Arbeloff, vice president of the Lyons Group, said she asked city officials to let Avalon stay open late July 29 for a party after Kerry accepts the Democratic nomination. The party, in Kerry's honor, will feature musicians James Taylor and the Grateful Dead, according to city officials. She thought she improved the club's chances for an approval by asking only to remain open, not to serve alcohol.

''We were told they don't extend," d'Arbeloff said. ''From what was explained to me, the mayor felt he's putting residents through enough [during the convention] and they shouldn't have to put up with more. Everyone has been friendly about it. We asked, and the answer was no."

Meanwhile, some other convention events are being canceled, though not because of late hours. Rock the Vote had hoped to stage an outdoor concert at City Hall Plaza on Thursday night, but was turned down for security reasons. The organization is now planning a smaller concert at the Roxy.

''It's unfortunate we were unable to secure an outdoor venue to have a concert where we could accommodate a large number of people," said Jay Strell, communications director of Rock the Vote. ''We're going to have to adjust to the realities of the situation. We've done shows at places like Roxy or Avalon, and we're confident it will be a great show anyway."

And if, as rumored, hip-hop group Outkast shows up at a party at Vinalia honoring the Democratic National Committee chairman, Terry McAuliffe, and sponsored by City Councilors John Tobin and Michael Ross, the band better not decide to play.

According to Malone, the restaurant has no entertainment license. It may not even have the capacity to accommodate the hundreds of guests the party is hoping to attract.

''They asked to use the lobby outside their restaurant," said Malone. ''They've been told that unless [the] Inspectional Services Department and the Fire Department [approves it], they won't have a party." The party's organizers couldn't be reached for comment.

Globe correspondent Heather Allen contributed to this report.

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