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Sin City loses dance permit

Sin City Nights lost its groove for good Tuesday night when the Modesto City Council revoked its dance permit, citing two violations of its one-month suspension.

Council members didn't say much about their decisions before they voted 4-2 to prohibit the club from allowing dancing.

But two Sin City employees implied the council was punishing the club unfairly. One of them accused the council of "profiling" the bar's nonwhite clientele.

The club's owner and its manager, meanwhile, claimed they were being singled out by the Police Department, which has the authority to grant and deny dance permits.

"It's unjust to penalize me if those places have not been penalized as I have," said Sin City Manager Tony Havens, referring to a brawl that broke out near Club Velocity a year ago and another downtown scuffle on St. Patrick's Day.

The majority of council members apparently were swayed by well-documented police reports describing the club as slow to comply with security standards that apply to other venues with dance permits.

Officers laid out those incidents in a report a month ago that led to suspension of the bar's dance permit.

Since then, officers have cited the club twice for permitting dancing despite the monthlong punishment, according to police reports.

Officers also identified minors in the club Sept. 28, though Havens contends they were there doing a favor for one of his employees before Sin City officially had opened for the night.

Chris Ricci, general manager at the Fat Cat, urged the council to pull Sin City's dance permit, saying its actions this summer endangered the reputation of all downtown businesses.

During the summer, Sin City employees were seen rushing their patrons onto the street, which police said created a "volatile" atmosphere at closing.

Sin City's loss of its dance permit follows a new push to craft a management plan for the city's entertainment venues. A proposal is expected to be sent to the council in December.

Police Chief Roy Wasden stopped signing off on new dance permits downtown last month, saying he couldn't dedicate any more resources to keeping the neighborhood safe on weekends.

At that time, 13 bars and clubs had dance permits. Together, they had a capacity of more than 5,000 people.

But four of those venues -- Club Velocity, Fez Cafe, Gal- letto Ristorante and Hero's Sports Lounge -- did not renew their permits, Lt. Ron Cloward said.

That freed space for the Police Department to give a conditional dance permit to The Nines restaurant, near Sin City, at 10th and J streets. Cloward said the restaurant can choose 10 days to hold dancing events before Dec. 1. The Nines has been cited several times for allowing dancing without a permit.

Keating had issued a warning

Sin City owner Rosalind Mitchell described the council's vote as one that could imperil her business.

"We've been struggling for an identity both in music and in dance," said Mitchell, who first opened the bar as a sit-down restaurant called Tymeless. "This has had a considerable impact on our progress."

She pointed out that the club did not receive any dancing citations in the second half of its one-month suspension. She emphasized that the club had taken steps to comply with the city's standards.

Mitchell said she will have to evaluate her options.

Councilmen Garrad Marsh and Will O'Bryant voted to let the club keep the permit.

Councilwoman Janice Keating, who a month ago warned her colleagues against punishing a particular style of entertainment, left the meeting early and did not vote on the revocation.

Mayor Jim Ridenour, along with council members Bob Dunbar, Brad Hawn and Kristin Olsen, voted to bar the club from allowing dancing.

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

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