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War of words on the Web

Tuesday night at Hudson Lounge turns sour: Patrons claim racism

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Gathering at the Hudson Lounge before it ended abruptly Photo by Mickey McGill
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Another shot of the crowd Photo by Mickey McGill
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Hudson Lounge exterior Photo by Jack Thompson

Once again there's conflict on Robinhood, but this time it's not between condo neighbors and Hans Bier Haus. Instead, Hudson Lounge found itself in the center of a storm of controversy.

After accusations first popped up on Twitter that the trendy Rice Village bar closed early Tuesday night on account of an unwelcome, primarily black, clientele, the war of words spun onto Facebook and the bar's Yelp entry.

Patrons claim that a primarily African-American crowd of young professionals gathered for a holiday party that was supposed to last until 2 a.m. when the bar unexpectedly shut down at 11 p.m. and HPD officers were called to disperse the remaining crowd.

Sharon McLaughlin, who attended the party, said in an e-mail that "It was not a rowdy crowd, nor was there any unusual behavior or activity that would give us or management cause for concern. Everyone was mingling and having cocktails. The bar was quite busy and full. We purchased drinks at approximately 10:55 p.m. and were told by the bartender that it was last call and that they were closing at 11 p.m. The lights came on at 11 p.m. and they stopped serving and asked everyone to leave."

The lounge maintains that although the website lists a Tuesday 2 a.m. closing, normal protocol is to close the bar at midnight. Hudson spokesperson Caroline LeBlanc says the website is being redone, and it's unfortunate the correct hours weren't listed.

Hudson also maintains the party wasn't a private event, but rather a patron called early to ask if the bar could handle 25 to 30 friends. When around 150 came, Hudson found itself understaffed and began last call at 11 p.m. in an effort to have everyone out by their midnight closing time.

"We feel awful, but we feel justified in following normal protocol," LeBlanc tells CultureMap. "Maybe that wasn't the right thing to do, but there was no discriminatory intent."

The lounge has since posted an apology on its Facebook page.

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