Don't go there to see it. Just open your eyes and turn your head half a nod next time you pass, usually on your way to or from the City Hall area on Young Street, just across from First Presbyterian Church of Dallas: In freezing cold or baking heat, the downtown derelict population camps out on the 500 block of Dallas' ironically named Park Avenue, a dirty valley of brick and broken glass near a popular soup kitchen. They throw down cots and sleeping bags (or just their own bruised, grimy bodies) on the sidewalk, sleeping it off in an ether of booze and piss. Write your own moral.

Hattie's American Bistro has become a citywide hot spot, drawing people into Oak Cliff who have never been farther south than Armstrong in their lives, along with an adventurous crowd of veteran cosmopolites and metrosexuals. Eventually they all pour out onto Bishop Street for cigars and shrieking, wandering off down the block to explore Ifs Ands & Butts Sodapop and Tobacco Store, or the Oak Cliff Mercantile, a cool antiques and salvage place that stays open late, or whatever. Every night a few discover again that the cleverly named Venetian Blinds is actually an old place that sells Venetian blinds. All in all, it's a quiet, amiable, sophisticated corner of the city.

How does Escapade 2001, a club that's only open Friday and Saturday, regularly ring up the most liquor sales in Dallas County? Because this hangar-sized hangout happens to bring in most of the local Latino population every weekend, turning our East Dallas neighborhood into a ghost town. How does Escapade 2001 manage that? Because they know how to cater to the folks who've moved up from Mexico, playing the ranchera and cumbia music that makes boots scoot south of the border. It's a devastatingly simple formula.

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