Hudson Lounge Racism Allegations Continue To Fly
Last Wednesday, as everyone around here was gearing up to leave for the New Year's holiday, 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.
Photos by Marc Brubaker
Rocks Off 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. Earlier today we spoke with two of the organizers of the party, Ray Odom and Vonn Butler.
Obviously, both sides had radically different tales to tell.
Hudson management said it was told a few days before that a small party of only 20 would be coming in on the night in question, 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 told us last Wednesday afternoon. On a Tuesday night, this is a recipe for disaster at a bar as small and generically genteel as Hudson. The Houston Press' Shea Serrano gave Hudson high marks for his weekly Nightfly column not long ago. Earlier this afternoon, Serrano told us that he was not hassled during his visit, and that no one was minding the door when he went.
The Hudson folks say that once the crowd hit extreme capacity and the bar couldn't handle the rush, they decided to shut down early, at 11 p.m., an hour earlier than the stated Tuesday closing time of midnight.
To add a further layer of grime to this whole mess, angry commenters on CultureMap claim that Hudson reopened after the party left and was back in business until closing time early Wednesday morning.
We discussed certain aspects of last Tuesday with Odom and Butler, and clarified some of the matter from their side. Needless to say, if what Odom and Butler are saying is true, the plot has considerably thickened and gotten worse for Hudson.
The duo claims that they had spoke with Hudson's event director, Jarrod Klawinski, to iron out some details almost two weeks prior to the party. This is contradictory to what Thompson told us: That the first he heard of the party was just two days before, and it was only supposed to have to have 20 people.
Odom and Butler, however, say they looked over a bar calendar with Klawinski, and decided on an evening for their event. At this time, they say he told them that the bar's capacity was 400 people and it closed at 2 a.m., not midnight. (Hudson's Web site says the bar closes at 2 a.m. every night but Sunday, when it closes at midnight, and Monday, when it's closed.)
At this point, claims the pair, bottle service was talked about, but the bar would not budge on prices. Odom says he told Klawinski that his crowd would be "urban."