Night Life

Fear and Loathing in the Warehouse District

he Nightfly has always had a special bond with Hyperia (2001 Commerce). After all, the first piece ever written in this space was about the Warehouse District nightspot ("Taking Clubbing Too Far," July 13, 2000). I praised the club for its wide-open spaces ("The dance floor is even big enough for the most 'white' white dude doing 'The Running Man' to slip and fall and not even brush up against any other dancer's Armani sleeve") and respectable atmosphere ("The venue is basically a rave but…there aren't any assholes selling aspirin as X"). And even though the club's owner, Neil Heller, hated the article and told me that we should try our damnedest to avoid each other in public places, I still gave occasional shout-outs to the club. Hyperia is too damn cool to despise.

And it looks like the dance mecca is going to need all the help it can get these days, considering that the city is looking to slap some padlocks on its doors. Citing "patterns of criminality," the Harris County attorney's office and the city attorney's office are seeking an injunction against Hyperia that could prompt the club's closing.

According to Harris County attorney Roberta Lloyd, the club has racked up 250 calls for police and a total of 70 drug arrests in the past two years. "The number of arrests there are significant for the time period they've been open," says Lloyd. "And the calls for services are pretty astronomical, frankly, for the period of time." Lloyd also claims that city officials have tried to contact Heller, who has been unresponsive. It was Heller's lack of cooperation, she says, that forced the lawmen's hands.

Heller could not be reached for comment by the Press either, but supporters of the local club scene are pissed. DJ/promoter Mike Snow, who has performed at Hyperia countless times, is very vocal about the club's situation. Recently Snow e-mailed folks with the news, along with a link to a petition (www.petitiononline.com/hyperia) to save Hyperia.

Snow disputes the arrest total cited by the Harris County suits. "There have been a couple of drug arrests," he says. "There hasn't been that many. Now, the club has been raided, where the cops go into the club, and they had not come out with anybody. They have had 20 cops go in there and not bring one person out, because the club has been very strict. They search people when they go in the club and everything. They do everything they can to keep that element out of the club."

Snow also has a vague conspiracy theory or two. "Maybe they're being pressured by a certain interest group that says, 'Well, this club is being detrimental to this,' " says Snow. Or maybe officials are getting pressure from parents about the club's 18-and-up policy. "It can be a million different things," he says.

Lloyd says it's not her fault that Hyperia has been on the business end of a bunch of complaints lately. Furthermore, her office would investigate and, if necessary, shut down Hyperia's competition as well. "We received complaints, we did investigations, we found these numbers that, frankly, are a great concern to this office," declares Lloyd. Of the competition, she says, "I've invited [Hyperia's supporters] to let us know where these clubs are that have these problems. We would be happy to investigate them as well."

Despite his indignation, Snow remains optimistic. "The city makes money off of tax dollars that the club takes in," says Snow. "And they make a lot of money off of nightclubs. The city doesn't want the clubs to shut down. The taxes are outrageous for the clubs that have to pay the city for liquor and everything else."

But even a temporary injunction could close Hyperia for a year, an upsetting thought to all nightflies. With the eradication of many underground-dance clubs (the nearby Club Space) and club nights ("Trippin' Tha Love") over the past few months, and with the rave practically as extinct as the sock hop in this town, Hyperia has become the only spot in town where the young ones can convene and dance to various forms of electronic music. And with the venue's burgeoning rep as the local clubhouse for touring superstar spinners (Paul Oakenfold will play the club Tuesday, September 24), the closing of Hyperia could very well be the final nail in the downtown dance scene's coffin.

Last Call

A quick note: "Privilege," Houston's favorite traveling, downtown, after-hours experience, has moved once again. After a spell at Lotus Lounge (412 Main), it's now at Paesanos Lounge (213 Milam), where, in all likelihood, it will have a successful, short, alcohol-free run before it moves someplace else. To all the folks at Boaka Bar (1010 Prairie), don't be surprised if you see the "Privilege" caravan on your doorstep one day soon, looking for a place to perch.

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Craig D. Lindsey
Contact: Craig D. Lindsey