Downtown Bar Opens to Controversy
New bar on the block Upstairs at Caroline’s already has their PR people’s work cut out for them. Last Friday all-female DJ collective Chulita Vinyl Club shared a bill with local Afro-Colombian group Superfonicos for a gig for a soft opening for the new bar attached to the Aloft Austin Downtown hotel, but had their set cut short by Assistant bar manager Michael Childress for the reason that, “this hotel does not play Latin music,” and, “you are bringing the vibe down.”
Chulita Vinyl Club DJ Claudia Aparicio says the bar’s actions were especially hurtful as the bar has clear Latin influences including Spanish-style cocktails, Acapulco chairs, tacos, and other elements that hint at a Latin-style vibe, leaving the collective to conclude, “They’re clearly trying to have the culture, but not wanting to accept the culture.”
Aparicio said hotel and bar management asked the collective to not go to the media, but the damage was already done, as the collective took measures to video a conversation between some of the DJs and management which they posted to their Instagram with a lengthy statement calling on the management to follow through with retraining their staff and making Upstairs at Caroline’s the safe space it claims to be. CVC also said they were, “so uncomfortable and unwelcome at the Caroline venue that we cannot in good conscious accept their money.”
So, what does the staff at Upstairs at Caroline’s have to say for themselves? Some representatives took to the restaurant’s Facebook page to post an apology and attempt to diplomatically explain the night’s events, but the response from the Facebook community has literally been 100% negative.
Yesterday the General Manager released a statement saying, “we specifically chose the Chulita Vinyl Club to play Upstairs at Caroline as part of our music series because we like their work…the request was not about the genre of the music but we did not communicate or handle the situation appropriately…we are sorry for our actions and are actively working with and re-training our team on creating a safe, inclusive, respectful environment where everyone knows they are genuinely welcomed and venue.” To that, it seems the public seems to say, “prove it, but probably too little too late.”