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When Joe Ragni moved to York County from New York, he saw a need for teens to have a place to hang out and socialize. He said there were no teen clubs like one he had frequented in Queens.
A lot of high school kids, theyll just hang out in the parking lots, said Ragni, 25.
Ragni has attempted to fill that need by opening the Sound Lounge, a safe, nonalcoholic lounge for ages 14 to 18 at 114 S. Congress St., York, in the space previously inhabited by a Community Cash store.
I wanted to open something and I wanted it to be for the kids, said Ragni, who opened the lounge on June 1. If more kids had things to do, they wouldnt be getting into trouble.
Ragni and his father, Jeffrey Ragni, who has helped with financing for the project, spent months renovating the teen club space with a new dance floor, carpet and a bar where food and sodas are sold.
Everyone who came into my spot said this is amazing, it came out beautiful, said Joseph Ragni. I have nothing but a positive outlook from this point. In a few weeks, my place will be the No. 1 spot for teens.
Ragni said the clubs attendance the first weekend was light, likely because of graduations, beach vacations and just getting the word out. But he said interest in the project is growing in the community.
Jeffrey Ragni, a retired electrician who lives in Fort Mill, said Sound Lounge has hired York police to provide security. He also said theres a dress code, which he said is standard for teen clubs, that bars gang colors and handkerchiefs to prevent issues related to gang influences.
Once youre in, youre not allowed out, because we dont want kids hanging out in the parking lot, Ragni said. If you want to leave, you can, but you cant come back in unless you want to pay again.
Ragni said when his son became interested in opening a teen club last year, the two began looking for space in York County.
We started driving around and realized in York theres no movie theaters and no bowling alleys, Jeffrey Ragni said. Theres nothing for these kids to do, nowhere for them to go. Theyre all hanging out on the street.
Joseph Ragni said he plans to hire different disc jockeys to provide music and hopes to eventually use some high school talent as well. Hed like to launch a karaoke night and maybe a country night if theres interest.
The 8,000-square-foot lounge has a large, open area with a spacious new dance floor and lots of couches and tables where teens can gather. A food bar with seating at one end of the lounge sells sodas, hot dogs, burgers, chicken tenders, cheese fries, chips and candy.
Admission is $10 and hours are 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with more days to be added as demand increases, Ragni said. The lounge is also available for private parties. Ragni said hes already booked a Sweet 16 party and received an inquiry about a fashion show.
Ragni said he would like to work with local high schools when classes resume in the fall, perhaps hosting a battle of the bands competition or partnerships with local sports programs.
Want to go?
Sound Lounge, in the old Community Cash store at 114 S. Congress St. , York, is a teen lounge for ages 14 to 18. Admission is $10 and hours are 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Gang colors are not permitted.