Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Many leading lights in Springfield now declare they want to be "pro-active" in eliminating any future brawls outside downtown nightclubs. As we noted on Monday, the City of Springfield is busting hump to shut down Traffic, threatening to pull the club's business and liquor licenses.

The club's manager, Sean Kisner, made the media rounds on Monday, claiming "violent" hip-hop music played by an irresponsible DJ was to blame for the "bad apples" starting a brawl.

Fitting for a story about a nightclub, every media outlet in town is dancing around the obvious: the role of race in the violence.

The News-Leader on Tuesday said the club "leaned toward an urban clientele by playing hip-hop and rap." What the hell is that sentence supposed to mean?

The newspaper's editorial is the only place where color is mentioned, and it's unintended:
This brawl has given the city and the downtown area a black eye. However, that will fade away. There are many good, positive things going on downtown, and this will just be a blip in its history.
Pablum aside, the weekend brawl at Traffic was not an isolated incident.

Club Intensity, on East Sunshine Street, shut down earlier this year after a spate of noise complaints. Prior to Intensity, there was Remington's, the cavernous southside club that saw its share of parking-lot violence (beatings, stabbings, the occasional rundown by a Cadillac).

All three venues had solid followings among black club-goers in Springfield. The clubs played great music and positioned themselves as big-city entertainment. All three were successful.

Two are now history. Traffic isn't far behind.

Despite earlier plans to play a lot of '80s music, Traffic relied on hip-hop because it brought people through the doors. Now, Traffic's manager says the club plans to "pretty much eliminate rap" from the playlist, and there is talk of instituting a dress code and banning "hats, jerseys and baggy clothes." You know -- clothing worn by thugs and gangsters. As if baggy pants and a love for Luda were enough to plummet people into violence.

Rock music lyrics have their own share of violence; the Kaiser Chiefs, after all, predict a riot. And country music wouldn't continue to exist if song characters weren't off doing a little killing (we also happen to know of a few stabbings that took place at the country bars in town; city officials weren't hip-hopping to shut down those places).

So why the smackdown on "urban" clubs?

If city leaders really want to figure out what's going on with club violence, they won't go along with this "blame-the-rap-music" excuse. That's beneath them.

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