Sin City sticks to its plan for party

Sin City Nights' customers couldn't dance Friday, but that didn't quiet the drama surrounding the club on 10th Street in downtown Modesto.

Police kept a close eye on the bar because it held a record- release party for the rap group Federation -- an event the Modesto City Council told Sin City Manager Tony Havens to cancel when it temporarily revoked the club's dance permit last week.

The council's Sept. 25 vote to suspend Sin City's dance permit was not meant to shut the club, but it was intended to punish it after several violations in June and July of its business agreement with Modesto.

Havens said he decided to hold the party after consulting with police Lt. Ron Cloward, who heads downtown security planning for the department.

Cloward confirmed through department spokesman Sgt. Craig Gundlach that he advised Havens about how to make the event as safe as possible. But Gundlach said that conversation was not meant to suggest that officers had given an OK for the party.

Council members seemed intent on striking the Federation event when they suspended the dance permit.

Councilman Brad Hawn said he worried that the event would get out of control. Council- woman Kristin Olsen compared the decision to nix the party to a similar move made by California State University, Stanislaus, a year ago when it canceled a hyphy concert. Olsen, who works for the university's president, said the reaction to that cancellation was surprisingly mild.

On Tuesday, Olsen, Mayor Jim Ridenour and Councilman Bob Dunbar said they meant to scrap the record-signing event when they pulled Sin City's dance permit. However, the council members said, city ordinances didn't allow the department to cancel that event as long as the club didn't allow dancing.

Havens said the dance permit wasn't revoked formally until Friday night. He said the bar complied and didn't permit dancing. The club had 35 security guards to accommodate the Police Department's safety concerns.

"The event went over very smoothly," Havens said.

Later that night, a stabbing took place on Ninth Street, and some witnesses told police that Sin City patrons were involved in the scuffle.

Havens said his customers had nothing to do with that fight. He invited police to check an ID-scanning machine at his club to prove his point. The machine scans driver's licenses to record who enters the club.

"I don't know where it came from, but those people didn't come from our place," he said.

Police have little information about the stabbing because few people at the scene would speak with officers. Gundlach said the fight's two victims didn't want to cooperate with police, either. One of them suffered slashing cuts to his chest and back.

Gundlach declined to name the victims because he said the department is concerned that people involved in the fight may have gang ties, and officers did not want to jeopardize the victims' safety.

Sin City found itself in hot water in June when it made the transition from a sit-down restaurant to a more clublike setting. The Police Department marked several violations of its dance permit, such as not providing enough security guards.

Havens portrayed the club's dance permit violations as growing pains.

He said the club now complies with the standards of a dance permit. He said the city rushed to revoke its dance permit, giving the club citations for violations of the agreement and a letter stating the Police Department's intent to strike the dance permit in the same week.

"By the time I got the citations, 90 percent of the things we had been cited for had already been fixed," he said. "We've been doing an excellent job getting back to standard."

Bee staff writer Adam Ashton can be reached at aashton@modbee.com or 578-2366.

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