AIDS Housing Coalition Houston Dance Club Funding Threatened After Alcoholic Beverage Commission Raid
Club Nsomnia, a late-night dance club operated by the AIDS Housing Coalition Houston, has stopped allowing patrons to bring their own alcohol to the club after a July 20 raid by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the Houston Chronicle reports. According to TABC Sgt. Mitchell Dill, the agency plans to charge the organization, which helps HIV-positive people find housing, with selling alcohol without a permit because, although the club does not technically sell alcohol, it asks for an $8 donation to enter the club. Patrons had been allowed to bring their own alcohol and could purchase food and mixers at the club. According to TABC policy, taking a donation at the door is a "round-about way of selling alcohol without a license." TABC was originally called to the club three weeks ago after receiving complaints that the patrons were drinking alcohol after 2 a.m.; Texas law forbids alcohol consumption in a public establishment after 2:15 a.m.
Organization's Funds 'Dry Up'
The coalition, which provides social services during the day and runs an emergency shelter and food bank for HIV-positive people, last year spent approximately $290,000 on the club and other programs and raised approximately $292,000. "By the time I get to court on this, we'll be bankrupt," AIDS Housing Coalition Houston Executive Director Matt Locklin said, adding that the group raises all its own funds and receives no tax money. Funds generated from Club Nsomnia have almost been depleted since they stopped allowing alcohol. Locklin said he plans to keep the shelter open "until funds dry up," which he estimates will happen this week. Locklin also said that he plans to file complaints regarding the TABC raid, alleging that the agents "harrass[ed]" gay customers and gave them $25 tickets while allowing heterosexual patrons to leave without being cited. TABC officials denied the allegations (Rodrigues, Houston Chronicle, 7/25). Residents of the Montrose area of Houston, where the club is located, had previously voiced concerns about Club Nsomnia, saying that the club "seems incongruous" with the coalition's mission (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/12/01).