Under Siege: Navy Week in Boston

Navy Week brings an influx of sailors seeking fun—naughty and nice. Will we deliver?

Sailor and ship illustration

Photo Illustration by Jesse Lenz

On June 29, thousands of sailors will arrive in Boston to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812. It wasn’t long ago that an invasion of men in uniform meant big business for our city’s less-than-reputable joints. To wit, the Combat Zone — that seedy collection of storefronts in Chinatown — which earned its moniker not just from the violence that plagued the area in the ?’60s, but also from the legions of soldiers wandering about, looking for a good time. The licentiousness has simmered down (credit the Navy and Mayor Menino for that), and now our den of sin consists of two puny “gentlemen’s clubs.” This is a clear moral victory, but is smut really all that bad?

It’s been argued that cities need a darker side. The biggest convention destinations also have the largest markets for strip clubs. If the two are related, maybe we should reconsider our position on X-rated activities. Why? Well, in Vegas last year, 4.9 million conventioneers spent an estimated $6.3 billion, while the adult entertainment industry raked in a total of $8 billion.

No one’s advocating for returning the Zone to its former glory. But when the boys in blue come to town later this month, will we be able to show them a good time?