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Chili today -- and tomorrow?

As the war of rhetoric and race-baiting continues to spark verbal skirmishes in Himmarshee Village, the Chili Pepper's controversial Sunday hip-hop night will continue unabated, says general manager Russ Davis. And the club wasn't "silent" last week as Bandwidth reported, just quieter than usual.

"We don't have any plans to discontinue it at this time," he says, noting that the past few Sundays have mellowed considerably, with patrons remaining inside rather than spilling over outdoors. "Everyone comes out, enjoys the music, and spends money."

The neighboring Poor House has a smaller hip-hop night of its own Wednesdays, with DJ Boogie Waters on the decks. But Sunday nights at the Poor House have mellowed to the point where owner/manager Bob Pignone continues to see business diminish to a trickle. Live music hasn't been featured on Sundays for weeks, but Pignone maintains that traffic is down due to that dangerous crowd filling SW Third Avenue. "I'll wait it out," he said a few weeks ago.

He may have to keep waiting, says Davis, who isn't unsympathetic to business owners in the area feeling threatened by large crowds of black hip-hop fans infiltrating what is traditionally a white outdoor weekend rumpus room.

"I understand that," notes a concerned Davis, "and I feel bad for them. I've heard the grumblings." But he points to the success of the event, which he says draws 1000 to 2000 people, helping to keep bartenders, security personnel, and nearby parking-lot attendants employed.

In fact, when Sunday nights get rolling, full of low-riding cars that go boom in the night, parking and traffic congestion getting in and out of Old Town get pretty hairy -- though no more hirsute, claims Davis, than on a busy Friday or Saturday night if the Broward Center for the Performing Arts is hosting a concert or tux-and-tails wingding.

"It's just a different crowd here," Davis points out. "They enjoy the hip-hop music, they dress a certain way, and that's just the way it is. If I did salsa dance lessons, people would be wearing those outfits. That's the way it is. People need to be a little more open-minded."

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Jeff Stratton
Contact: Jeff Stratton

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