Hudson Lounge Comes Under Fire For Supposed Racist Practices (UPDATED)
Last Wednesday, the Houston Press Twitter page was inundated with quick terse statements from our followers calling out the chic Hudson Lounge in Rice Village for being overtly racist after a party of African-American revelers was shut down early the night before, without any warning by the management on duty at the time.
We made a call to the bar soon after the business hit Twitter and spoke with manager Keith Thompson, and we were also in contact with a handful of partygoers through email and our personal Twitter account. Both sides had obviously radically different tales to tell.
The bar's management said it was told a few days before that a small party of only 20 would be coming in on Tuesday night, December 28. Thompson said that the bar made preparations to have two bartenders and a waitress on hand to service the crowd.
As the night progressed, this promised crowd of 20 grew to at least 150 people as Thompson stated to us on Wednesday afternoon.
At a bar as small and generically genteel as Hudson, on a Tuesday night, this is a recipe for disaster.
The story from the Hudson folk goes that once the crowd hit extreme capacity and Hudson couldn't handle the rush, they decided to shut down early, at 11 p.m., an hour earlier than their quoted last call tolling at midnight on Tuesdays.
This was contradicted by the posting on the Hudson website and on Yelp, which lists 2 a.m as their usual closing time on Tuesdays through Saturdays. Sundays are noted as early nights, closing at midnight. This was an oversight according to Hudson management, which claims that the listed times were incorrect. The sites have still not amended the hours.
Thompson told us that the owner, Adam Kliebert, made the call to shut down the bar early due to the crowd, not because they were scary black people, but because his bar couldn't handle the business. He further stated there were verbal complaints in regards to the closing, but that no one got violent or outwardly aggravated, aside from the understandable frustration. Most of the party would later move on to The Flat off Commonwealth to finish out the night.
In the wake of the incident, CultureMap's Caroline Gallay spoke with Kliebert, who defended himself from racist accusations by saying "My fiancée is Latina. I am not a racist person and I had nothing to do with the booking of this party. How can I be racist if I'm marrying a Latin girl?"
CultureMap's coverage of the incident was surprisingly straightforward, considering how much the site's team had trumpeted the opening of the bar for the past few months, even going as far as proclaiming in the late fall "like a Palm Spring mirage, the bright-eyed Hudson Lounge has emerged as the Rice Village warehouse district's den of all things posh."
KRIV's Emily Akin gave Kliebert a laughable cellphone browbeating on camera with a patron from Tuesday night. Kliebert and his staff went into damage control mode with Facebook apologies and the usual words of regret everywhere else on every channel of social media. You can read their epic-size apology here.
Everyone who was at the bar and the abruptly canceled party repeatedly pleaded on social media and even to this writer that they were "upscale black patrons" and thus were not to be of any trouble to Hudson. That in itself seems awfully backhandedly racist, coming from the very people who are alleging racism.
One commenter, named JS, says "The owner just saw black people. What the owner was too stupid to realize is that about 20% of the black people there that night were lawyers. Some are even partners in law firms."
That very well may be, but that in itself is a tick inflammatory. If they were black postal workers or bike messengers, would it have made it more understandable to shut the bar down? No, because it would still be racist, their vocations not withstanding.
On Wednesday, Hair Balls came across a flyer for the event, which doesn't quite match with the party planners' official line to Hudson that only 20 people were to show up at the soiree. It lists five promoters, a claim of no cover and no line, and even lists a number to text in your RSVP.
If you are planning a small event with a dozen and half people, you don't make a flyer like that unless you are planning something much bigger in scope. Take it from someone who works with party planners and bands: if you put out a flyer, it's for maximum draw and effect.
At the end of the day the whole incident seems to Hair Balls to be a big ball of misunderstanding wrapped in a juicy layer of hurt feelings. Hudson Lounge and the party planners both seem to be at a stalemate. As of this time, Hudson has made their apologies and seems to be going about business as usual, judging from their Facebook.