Two Sunday ago after midnight, South Washington Avenue in REO Town was extremely busy. Young men drove around looking for parking spaces and barely dressed young women jogged across Washington toward the crowded entrance of the Cadillac Club, where a line of people were waiting in line to get into a “Pumps and Patron” party.
In addition to the party people, there were police — lots of police. They were patrolling in their radio cars the dark parking lots, side streets and alleyways of REO Town. Just a week earlier, an East Lansing man had been shot after a latenight party at the Cadillac Club let out. The young man survived — a Lansing officer made the decision to transport the victim to the hospital in his car rather than wait for an ambulance — but the incident was the most recent in a seemingly long line of troubles that have resulted from the Cadillac Club’s hosting of dance parties, which led to charges by the city that Cadillac Club owner Dave Sheets has violated the terms of his liquor license.
He appeared before the Liquor Control Commission Oct. 20. The charges stem from a party that took place around July 4 at the Cadillac Club. Lansing police reported to the state Liquor Control Commission several liquor violations. Sheets — who shut down the restaurant operations of the Cadillac Club at the beginning of the summer because of slow business — appeared before the Liquor Control Commission Oct. 20 to face liquor violations, which included allowing an individual to remove liquor from the establishment, allowing a minor to consume alcohol, selling alcohol to an intoxicated person and allowing an intoxicated person to loiter.
Sheets says the charges were trumped up and that his security does its best to maintain order once people start leaving the club. After that, he says, he can’t do much about what people do on the street.
“I have trained security personnel,” Sheets said. “They don’t let people outside with liquor in their hand.” Sheets, however, pleaded guilty to the charge of allowing alcohol to leave the Cadillac Club, for which he was hit with a $300 fine. The rest of the charges are still pending a verdict by the Liquor Control Commission. The person who removed the alcohol — a bottle of beer — snuck it out in a pocket in her pants, Sheets said. The Cadillac Club hadn’t been charged with a liquor violation since 2005. Sheets said that after the July incident he outlawed what he terms “hip-hop” parties at his club. The parties that go on now, he said, are defined by “R and B” music.
Lansing police spokesman Lt. Noel Garcia said the Cadillac Club situation “improved for a little while but now it’s back again. We’re disappointed in this fact.” The police presence in the area during the parties is to move people along and check for liquor violations. Police patrol the area if there are no other emergencies, but officers are specifically assigned there. However, Garcia said that there have been complaints from local businesses and residents regarding the large crowds spilling out of the club late at night.
Garcia referred to a homicide several years ago outside the Lansing Center. “History has shown that bad things happen when people congregate like that. And when they’ve been drinking, tempers rise,” Garcia said. “Our job is to keep moving people along.”