As you shuffle into the Deep Ellum streets, escaping the lights announcing the arrival of bars' closing time, you might notice a rather soothing melody following you. Don’t be alarmed. The music’s not an auditory illusion brought on by that unwise mix of Jäger with cough syrup. It’s just Ellum venue The Nines blasting a selection of relaxing music to make everyone less like the worst version of their alcohol-fueled selves.
Legendary suspension artist Allen Falkner, owner of The Nines, doesn’t take credit for the idea but is glad to do anything possible to lower the aggression levels found in patrons making their way home.
“It’s not actually a new idea,” Falkner says via email. “I had heard about it being used in other areas/situations. The reason we decided to start doing it was simple observation. At 2 a.m. everyone leaves all the bars at the same time. We thought it might be a good idea to try and relax people as much as possible as they made their way out of the neighborhood.”
Falkner’s efforts to calm the chaos is a noble one, especially considering the violence that he's witnessed as the popular tourist area enjoys a rebirth from the ghost town it was a decade ago. Whether it be muggings, shootings or the $40 price tag for a pie, some pretty heinous things have been happening in the entertainment district.
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Falkner has taken other measures to create a safe space in his bar, and now he's tackling the neighborhood in general.
Will the soothing classical music playing from the rooftop of The Nine’s prove to be the magic touch, the perfect lullaby to inspire docility instead of hostility? Falkner himself isn't sure if it's making a difference.
"At this point we really haven’t gotten much of a response," he says. "So it’s hard to say how much it's affecting the neighborhood.”
Falkner's attempts to sway the moods of drunk passersby may not have a quantifiable effect, but his effort speaks volumes to the pride Deep Ellum venue owners have in protecting their neighborhood and the people who choose to spend their evening in it.