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Sarah Tomlinson

Light up the night before smoking ban

If you happen to be in Cambridge or Somerville next Tuesday night, here’s some advice: Smoke ’em if you got ’em. It’s the last night before the citywide smoking ban, in effect in Boston since May, extinguishes cigarettes for good at the roughly 100 restaurants and clubs on the other side of the Charles that still permit smoking.

At T.T. the Bear’s Place, the Cambridge rock institution, you’ll have company. The ban’s arrival will serve as an excuse for a memorable, musical party.

“It appealed to me because we’re a rock ‘n’ roll band, and I like rock ‘n’ roll in a traditional sense, in the drinking and smoking sense,” said Marc Pinansky, party organizer. “In addition, of course, to the music.”

Pinansky’s band, Runner and the Thermodynamics, will play a set bursting with wiry guitar and frenzied drumming in a lineup that includes good-time rockers American Car, whose bassist Andy Guthrie first suggested the party. Also on the bill are the Spaceshots and classic rock revampers, The Damn Personals, who can be expected to throw down acrobatic rock riffs and knowingly crooned vocals during a thousand-watt live show that earned them the 2003 Boston Music Award for Outstanding Club Band (Best Live Show).

You don’t have to greedily puff smokes as you listen to loud music at this shindig: nonsmokers will be given candy cigarettes. A smoke machine will be in action and screenings of vintage television cigarette ads will add to the atmosphere, “to get your historical whatnot in,” as Pinanksy said. “I grew up here and spent my whole life here, so I found it interesting, like a quasi-historical event.”

T.T.’s talent buyer, Randi Millman, liked that the French bistro Les Zygomates threw a cheeky soiree, with a menu of smoked foods and lots of smoking, the night before the Boston ban went into effect.

The new ordinance has set off worries that bar business will suffer from a decline in smokers’ patronage, and that noise from smokers who light up outside of clubs will create neighborhood problems. Others say they hope nonsmokers will venture out more.

Pinansky enjoys smoking at rock shows, but hopes the ban will help him quit. Millman, who is allergic to smoke, spends many hours at the club and is ready for a smoke-free workplace, but she’s torn on the civil liberties question.

“I made an investment in the company that makes Febreeze because I would have to go home and de-smoke myself, so I’m kind of happy,” she said. “We just kind of have to live with this. The ban is going to happen, so why not have some fun ushering out the old? I think it will be really fun, sort of like an Irish wake.”