In the weeks before a scheduled Sept. 6 video shoot for the rap group Money for Life, Alfredo Nelson, a member and manager of the act, had fliers printed up, sent out e-mails, and invited what he describes as “very, very important people” to the event. Everything was in place for the shoot, which was to take place during a regular Wednesday-night open mic at Upshur Street NW’s Island Cafe.
But a couple of hours before Money for Life was to go on, manager Darryl Smith shut the club down. Event promoter Tina Turner, aka DJ Sexy Spice, told Nelson that Smith said he had decided to close his establishment right before the city’s Sept. 12 primary and would not reopen until after the Nov. 7 general election. Turner says Smith complained of frequent visits from alcoholic-beverage inspectors and the health department and believed things would die down after the ballots were cast. “He said he feels like the election is the reason they’re picking on him, and he wants stuff to die down,” she says. “It doesn’t make sense.”
Nelson, who still hasn’t scheduled a reshoot, concedes that police presence and licensing enforcement might be beefed up prior to elections but says “I still didn’t believe it.” Smith says he did indeed close the club down and says that he believes the primary is the reason that his place has been inspected more frequently than what he claims is the typical three times a year.
“I’m not the only one—other places have closed down,” Smith says. “We can’t bear all of the daily pressures.”