Hudson Lounge: Still No Agreement On What Happened

Hudson Lounge. Again.

Yesterday on Hair Balls and on the music blog, Rocks Off, we summarized the Hudson Lounge ordeal that has gripped Houston nightlife patrons, with accusations of racism and exclusionary practices strewn all over the comments section on both blogs, and on a few blogs written by other sites like CultureMap.

Michael Berry touched on the issue during his afternoon drive-time show on 740 KTRH, rapper Bun B picked up the Rocks Off story and retweeted it to his thousands of followers, and we started hearing whispers, some louder than others, of similar instances of alleged discrimination at other clubs around Houston.

One of the party's planners, Ray Odom, did say during a follow-up interview Monday afternoon that a Houston Police Department officer was on the scene last Tuesday night, for reasons unknown, as the party was being shut down. He sent us two pictures, one of the back of the officer and one of his vehicle.

We spoke with an HPD spokesman who said that there was an officer there, dispatched at 10:45 p.m. for a "patrol investigation," which could be anything. This doesn't indicate that cops were called for the Hudson party. No other notes were attached on the official report.

Late Tuesday afternoon we talked with the Hudson Lounge employee who met with Odom and another person to plan the party. (He asked not to be named.) Manager Keith Thompson was busy with opening duties at the bar, so he was unavailable. Owner Adam Kliebert has been out of pocket since New Year's Day and unable to be reached by Hair Balls or the Hudson staff, according to the employee.

The conversation with the employee cleared up some more facts that had been hazy on our end. He said he met with Odom and Vonn Butler twice, the last time on December 23 before the party. He says that the pair declined to rent out the bar for the party because, they told him, the cost was prohibitive. The first guest estimate by the pair was 90 people, which was then reduced to 50-60 by Butler a few days before the party date.

Confused yet? We sure are. This is now the third or fourth or tenth discrepancy we have heard in regards to the number of people at this party. By next week the party may very well be a small army or three guys and two chicks, depending on who we ask.

The employee did remark that the pair repeatedly let him know that this would be an urban crowd, a fact that he says they stressed. They went over Hudson's music and dress code standards, to which everyone was in agreement. The bar normally plays low-key lounge music, conducive to the venue's "swanky" vibe. They shun sandals, T-shirts, tennis shoes and will allow nicer polo-style shirts, which is par for the course for most upscale bars in Houston.

"We would welcome them back if they choose to return," said the employee. He did direct us to Hudson's public relations agent, Caroline LeBlanc from Studio Communications, in regards to any further inquiries into the matter. This was the first we heard of them having a PR presence.

CultureMap allowed Odom to write his own first-person blog entry on the incident, entitled "Houston nightlife: Where's the secret checklist when you're black?" which covered much of the same ground we discussed yesterday afternoon.

In his piece, he states that he and Odom had met with the event director four times and that they had a projected number of 200 people who were to show up, going by Facebook.

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty