A weekend of parties at some popular clubs has once again cast the spotlight on Houston and spurred a Twitter battle.
On Saturday night, downtown nightclub Spire was forced to close early and was cited for failure to maintain exits open and unobstructed by the Houston Fire Department. The event featured hip-hop artist Trey Songz and celeb supporting acts such as Fabolos and was put on by promoter Larry Morrow.
Spire’s owner, Zach Truesdell, described the events exclusively to CultureMap news partner ABC13.
“What happened is, when people just bombarded the doors and came in, we had to lock up the doors,” Trusdell said.
That spurred action by HFD. “We couldn’t get a proper occupancy count. The exits were blocked,” Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña told ABC13. “The means of egress were impeded. There were chairs and tables and stuff in the path of the exit. We made a determination at that time that it was a fire hazard.”
Meanwhile, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has traded Twitter barbs with rapper Bow Wow following a large Friday performance at Clé, which is also owned by Truesdell. The show celebrated Morrow’s birthday.
As Bow Wow’s promotional team prepared for a Sunday show at Kamp Houston, Turner tweeted:
These events that are scheduled with @BowWowPromoTeam today in Houston are on our radar. Other bars/clubs that are operating as restaurants, beyond capacity and social distancing requirements, please expect visits.
To which Bow Wow responded in a tweet:
Safe to say the mayor of houston hates my guts. I cant believe i get the blame for a whole weekend. This is ridiculous.
Turner then retorted:
Let me be very clear. I don’t dislike @BowWowPromoTeam. While the city is in the midst of this pandemic nearly 2000 infected and 17 dying yesterday, this is not the time for concerts. Help us get past this virus and then do your thing. The same for other bars & clubs. st #COVID19
The Houston mayor also bristled at businesses he feels are skirting the rule that bars must convert to restaurants and serve food in order to stay in operation.
“I’m still getting some disturbing pictures of people hanging out in clubs that have been recategorized as restaurants,” Turner said on Saturday. “And let me tell you, they are not restaurants.” He added that he will call on TABC to crack down on the reclassifications.
For his part, Truesdell feels he and his ownership group has been unfairly singled out for their parties — primarily for the ethinc makeup of the events.
“I see the Clé party that made national news and I see the Spire party. It’s always just videos of Black folks,” Truesdell said to ABC13. “And I'm just not sure why that is when I know you go out to places and you see white folks partying and having a great time as well.”
Time will tell how events such as these will affect the TABC crackdown on local entertainment establishments that are pivoting during the pandemic.