Dance hall brawl cuts night short at Old Martina’s Hall


One of many musical acts scheduled for the summer season at Old Martina's Hall in Ranchos de Taos was disrupted Saturday night (July 8) when a fight broke out between at least two men, law enforcement confirmed this week.

The fight apparently alarmed an unidentified bystander, who dialed 911 as they watched the two men exchange blows in the midst of other showgoers, who also appeared to have been caught up in the fracas. "[Caller] advised that there are about 30 people fighting," a Taos Central dispatcher relayed on police channels. "[They] stated there is blood everywhere."

But Giorgio Vacatello, the general manager of Old Martina's Hall, said that the caller's description of the scene was exaggerated. "There weren't 30 people fighting," he clarified during an interview this week. "If there were 30 people, then there would have been no way to control that crowd."

Vacatello said the two men were quickly removed from the premises by three staff security guards on duty Saturday night. "We have the best security in town," he said, adding that the men were escorted outside quickly enough so that no damage was caused to the establishment and that law enforcement did not need to enter.

Once outside the restaurant, bar and dance hall, however, the fight flared up again.

When Taos County sheriff's deputies and New Mexico State Police officers began arriving on the scene, both men separated and allegedly fled - one mounting a motorcycle and crashing into a deputy's patrol car and the other heading in an unknown direction.

Law enforcement has not confirmed whether any suspects were apprehended or what charges, if any, will be filed. "On arrival, most involved had left or were leaving the area," Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said. "Combine that with the crash, it made it nearly impossible to identify the persons responsible."

Lt. Edwardo Martinez, Taos district commander, said that his office will be handling the collision with the deputy's vehicle - an incident, he said, that remains under investigation.

altercation, fight