By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
For Hudson, "everything was spiritual," says Danny Boy, the former security guard. Everyone contained a positive and a negative spirit, he would say, and both positive and negative energy flowed through the universe. Danny Boy had lost any faith long ago, but he'd find himself nodding in agreement.
Then there was Hudson's less holy side.
"He could play with his words," Danny Boy says. "He'd make you think one thing, and behind your back he'll be doing another. A lot of times we questioned what was going on with the money, what was going on with the club."
The club's financial operations were suspect from the beginning, says John Wayne, starting with the very first day he worked there. It was a sweltering August afternoon, and only one of the large portable AC units worked. Hudson told John to wait at the club for some guys who would deal with the AC. John didn't know what that meant, exactly, but he did as he was told.
Eventually three guys in a truck pulled up. They grabbed the only working AC unit and rolled it out.
"Why are you taking the only one that works?" John yelled after them. "I'm not sure if you should take that." They ignored him and drove off.
When John called Hudson to tell him what had happened, "he acted like he had no idea who the AC guys were," John says. And he didn't remember telling John to wait for anybody.
"You done lost my $10,000 AC unit?" Hudson yelled down the phone. John had to work for free for three months straight, and other staff did as well, Danny Boy says, with their wages going to repay the unit John "lost."
"He hustled me, basically," John says. When people started getting paid, finally, it was all in cash. Staff members signed a note card to signify they had received their money. "We really had no idea where the money was going."
Hudson didn't come around much, mostly only showing up at the night's end to collect the money. Other times, he sent friends in his place.
Hannah Dill was 17 when the club got going. A budding graphic designer, she made fliers promoting the club; other times, she worked the door or ran errands. She remembers two of Hudson's associates coming by frequently, a girl named Tiffany and a guy who went by "Face." The cops showed up a couple times when they were there, and the two promptly grabbed the cash box and locked themselves in the closet, Dill says. They sent her and John Wayne to deal with the cops.
As the club reached its height in late 2010, Eppelsheimer kept buying new stuff: more strobe lights, more lasers, more sound equipment. But sometimes, things went out just as fast as they came in. One night, just before New Year's Eve, several people say, nearly everything in the club was stolen. A police report from around that time lists thousands of dollars' worth of stolen equipment, including subwoofers, lights, sound equipment, speakers, a cooler door, an office door and a front door.
Undaunted, Styx promptly started building new speakers out of junk he found in the closets. "We still pulled through," Danny Boy says.
The trouble wasn't limited to DarkSide. On Valentine's Day in 2010, records show, Hudson flagged down officers outside the police substation on Northwest Highway and told them he was a DJ at the Playground, a swingers club on Harry Hines Boulevard that he also operated. Everything had been stolen, he said, several thousand dollars worth of equipment: $26,000 of "search lights," $2,000 CD players, two iPods, and three amps worth a thousand bucks each, among other things.
The Playground hosted an EDM night called Dancetronic each week, the party where John Wayne got arrested — for resisting arrest. The vast majority of the time, though, the place was fully occupied with swingers. The ambience of the club lives on in reviews from swingers' forums. Some of them sound suspiciously glowing ("Puts the sex in sexy!") while others are less enthusiastic ("They overcharge you and you end up in a drunk ghetto fuck club"). In May 2011, the club promoted an appearance from a porn star named Mr. Marcus, who later admitted to being the starting point of an enormous syphilis outbreak in the adult-film industry.
"Pretty much anything went over there," Danny Boy says, uncomfortably. He'd originally only signed on to work two nights a week at DarkSide, but it got to be a lot more. He ran errands, moved heavy stuff with his truck and even worked security at the Playground.
"It was definitely, definitely a different vibe," he says. "There was times where I sat there and I almost begged to go back to DarkSide." He saw working at the Playground as a part of the duty he felt to DarkSide. "We put ourselves through hell and back," he says. "We put in blood, sweat and tears to make sure we were open, that we were gonna be successful no matter what."
As things at the club started to change and grow murkier, Lacey says, so did the Brotherhood. "They started taking it far too seriously, establishing some hierarchy," she says. "I heard rumors of other things going on, but I just gradually got disconnected."
what a classy expose of what the Observer loves the most...trashy people doing trashy things with other trash.
Like I said before... Garbage culture for garbage peopleShareFlagLikeReplyKeepingitrealJul 25, 2011
Yea and your culture isn't garbage at all networks dont mind takeing money from calvin klien for exploiting under age kids in sickening ads , the mainstreme media doesn't point out that massive amounts of drugs are sold at topless clubs which stay open afterhours and allow the "rave" scene in after. Do you want your kid at the topless club at five am or in a club that atleast calls it self a church ? I dont know ? This is the same mainstreme media that blast out music lauding the merits of being a drug dealer "balling" hanging with your fellow gang members or being a "hoe" to those guys , all I can tell you is that kids are going out you cant stop it , they are either at a club with a cop at the door or a house party getting beaten , drugged , assulted , or initiated into a gang. Isnt bob johnson the ceo of black entertainment television friend of and investment partner of george bush in the caryle group ? And the carlyle group and haliburton are the primary owners of the private prision system that locks up these same young people suckered in to the very same "dope slanging, gang banging" life style they promote with the average 17 year old haveing seen 17,000 simulated murders on the networks they own. You have the garbage culture sir and before you tell us to clean our house........ you better clean up yours...... or should I say ours.... youre lucky if your kid becomes a raver until he or she grows out of it , the rave scene is the anti-violence antidote to your garbage culture at least our motto is peace , love , unity and respect whats the mainstreme medias motto , poverty , death , destruction , inequality , cast systems , addictions , murder and any mayhem to keep people divided and conqured. Turn off fox news and crack a book or something ! or just put a big mac in it and shut up..... like a heart attack billion calaorie burger and edible polymer aka "plastic" shake is gonna help you..... That's why there is a real symble on dairy products by the way......... our culture has a real symbole yours is plastic !!!!!!
Great job on the cover story, Anna. Its not often that there is a lengthy article in my weekly Observer that is worthy of letting one or both of my feet fall asleep when I am reading it on the shitter. Not only was your story worth the pins and needles I felt in my feet, it was also worthy of the semi-paralysis I felt while balancing against the wall of my shower..
BEST QUOTE EVER!!! "The media made it out to be a sex-infested, drug-infested underground rave club that was run by a pedophile and raver kids who didn't give a damn," he says now. His voice rises a little. "That's bullshit. Yes, there were drugs. Yes, Tommy is a pedophile. But there was a deeper purpose, a deeper meaning, a deeper connection.
Bwahahaha f'n idiots!
"she filed one against the Playground, accusing it of providing a place for people to find 'random consensual sexual activities.'"
I promise you "Darkside" was a fart in the Dallas Rave scene. Union Bower,IceHouse,Major Theater,Club Canie, just to name a few
"The media made it out to be a sex-infested, drug-infested underground rave club that was run by a pedophile and raver kids who didn't give a damn,...Yes, there were drugs. Yes, Tommy is a pedophile..."
Ok...that made me laugh out loud.
I believe this can be rated on the Vagina system since it touches on sex right? If so 5/5 Vaginas, I love Anna long reads.
This individual was never ordained by the one and only faith based Universal Life Church World Headquarters of Carrabelle, FL., nor was this establishment in congregation affiliation with us. Obviously this individual was ordained by the non-Christian, no doctrine universal life church of Modesto, CA., started by the self proclaimed Modesto Messiah Kirby Hensley. Universal Life Church World Headquarters, http://www.ulcnetwork.com
@JustSaying That's a beautiful sentiment, Kenny Powers. Have a lovely weekend.
@monstruss Why thank you.
@RoaminCadillac In my mind's ear, I hear it being delivered by David St. Hubbins.
@RoaminCadillac I've read this story nine times and laughed every time I read that line.
@ScottsMerkin Bahaha. Thanks, Merk.
@UniversalLifeChurch Off topic but I helped in the starting of the Carrabelle Speed Festival just down the road from you. Funny to see that city on a Texas site.
@Anna_Merlan Yeah, I hadnt commented on a cover story or anything outside of UP or CoA in a while, and I know we get different commenters here than in the blog so I figured I'd try to confuse readers more than I already do.
I can't say that I've ever heard of it, but that does not say it does not exist, it is just not my cup of tea. But Carrabelle, Florida is a great city in a great state, as is Texas. Carrabelle truly has a lot to offer thanks to folks such as yourself who have blessed our community with their presence. The seafood is fantastic.
@UniversalLifeChurch It happens twice a year and is just about 3 years old so it is pretty new. It takes place on the Carrabelle-Thompson airport. Whenever you see all of the fast cars in town that si where they are going. Actually had the event last weekend. Carrabelle is a great city. I am from Destin.