Notorious Houston nightclub Cle, which has gone viral multiple times during the pandemic for flouting basic COVID-19 safety guidelines, is at the center of yet another controversy.
Over the weekend, the club hosted rappers Bow Wow and Meek Mill for a performance, which drew the ire of Houston mayor Sylvester Turner. On January 17, Turner tweeted that his team was made aware of the event before it was set to take place, and urged Cle to reschedule. The club, of course, did not, and video from inside Cle showcasing a huge crowd of (mostly) maskless — and definitely not socially distanced — partiers went viral on social media a day later.
Scope out the video, which has racked up thousands of views, below:
Bow Wow got the club packed in Houston pic.twitter.com/iY83PSA5J3— 2Cool2Blog (@2Cool2BIog) January 16, 2021
“Neither Houston nor any Texas city should be allowed to be a venue for concert promoters outside of this State because clubs/bars are allowed to reclassify as restaurants,” Turner tweeted. “Only legitimate restaurants should be open at this time.”
These events that are scheduled with @BowWowPromoTeam today in Houston are on our radar. Other bars/clubs that are operating as restaurants, beyond capacity and social distancing requirements, please expect visits. Today we report 1964 new cases and 17 more deaths. st— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) January 17, 2021
After the video went viral, the incident was picked up by gossip outlets like TMZ and discussed widely on Twitter. That prompted Bow Wow, born Shad Gregory Moss, to defend his actions. In a series of now-deleted tweets, Moss said that he was just hosting, not an organizer of the event, and wore masks at some points while in the club. He also claimed that he tested negative for COVID-19 “twice” before performing the show.
“Safe to say the mayor of Houston hates my guts,” Moss tweeted in reference to Turner. “I can’t believe i get the blame for a whole weekend. This is ridiculous.”
In response, Turner made clear that this wasn’t some personal vendetta against the “Shorty Like Mine” rapper, and pointed out that the day before Bow Wow performed in Houston, the city reported 2,000 new COVID-19 infections. “This is not the time for concerts. Help us get past this virus and then do your thing,” Turner wrote on Twitter.
My clip was the only clip to go viral and we know why. Anything with my name attached to it reads HEADLINES. Thats why they chose me. I understand this is what i signed up for. I can take all the heat and not sweat. Sorry for any confusion.— Bow Wow (@smoss) January 19, 2021
In a series of tweets on Tuesday morning, Moss apologized for his behavior and clarified that he was at Cle to celebrate a birthday, not a paid performer. “I apologize if i did anything wrong. I love the city of Houston,” he tweeted. “I consider it like a 2nd home. A place i go to on my free time.” Moss also apologized to Turner, saying that he “understand[s] the time we are living in.”
It’s not shocking that something like this would go down at Cle, which has been allowed by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to openly flout COVID-19 guidelines thanks to an absurd loophole that classifies the venue as a “reception hall” instead of the nightclub that it obviously is. The bar’s owners have repeatedly insisted that they’re not breaking the rules — specifically, that they’re keeping capacity limited to the 50 percent allowed by Gov. Greg Abbott’s most recent executive order.
Also this weekend, Cle’s sister club Spire was shut down by Houston authorities after complaints of massive crowds were called in to local police. According to KHOU, an estimated 200 people were waiting to get into the club, and it was “packed” inside. Spire has also been a repeat offender during the pandemic, with Turner adding the bar to the city’s “Wall of Shame” after it earned a temporary liquor license suspension from the TABC.
Turner described both clubs as “community spreaders” that are “working against what we are trying to achieve.” “And let me tell you, they are not restaurants,” he said, “So I am calling on the TABC to really crack down and to rescind some of these reclassifications.”