So I walked outside and found a group of five local hip-hop dudes (Rob Viktum was the only one I recognized) hanging out and talking about the sad state of rap, either in the mainstream or in Dallas in particular. "You can't get anybody out to a damn show!" they complained, and another guy was filming the conversation with a video camera (presumably for a local cable-access hip-hop show). It wasn't exactly a constructive chat--mostly bitching, few solutions--but it wasn't wild, obnoxious or certainly threatening. So when two security guys at Tom Cats walked outside to tell everyone to "either come inside or leave," I was a little put off. "If you guys hang out around here, Dallas cops will come by and write us up," they said. Last time I checked, a club wasn't legally liable for people outside of its walls hanging out, and if someone tried the same thing at Gypsy Tea Room earlier in the night when a dozen or so people loitered outside at any given time, they'd have flipped out.
But this is Deep Ellum, a zone that assumes that if you're not inside a venue and, oh, not white, you're there to commit a crime. No cops were in anywhere near the venue--if your car broke down at the corner of Commerce and Malcolm X last night, you were more likely to flag down a bum asking for change than 5-0--but Tom Cats is obviously aware of public opinion, and the bouncers were just trying to save face. Can't blame 'em. -Sam Machkovech