The Austin Chronicle

The Dog That Didn’t Bark

By Chase Hoffberger, April 2, 2014, 9:00am, Newsdesk

The largest assembly on Sixth Street Saturday evening wasn’t a drunken group of troublemakers – it was four squadrons of police officers standing within two-sided barricades arranged between the four intersections along “Dirty Sixth.”

One officer who asked me to move from the space within one barricade’s walls explained that there were indeed more police officers being deployed for this weekend – a number comparable to South by Southwest or Mardi Gras, he said, “when people tend to get rowdy.” But there wasn’t much rowdiness happening. In fact, the street’s occupants seemed largely sedated and atypically sober.

On Monday, APD reported only 24 Downtown weekend (Friday and Saturday) arrests. That’s a far cry from the 106 arrests that took place in the George sector – the Downtown area that stretches from 12th Street to the river and Chicon Street to Lamar – last June during the Republic of Texas motorcycle Rally. But Texas Relays weekend – the two-night stretch coinciding with the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays at UT – has long had a tendency to bring out preemptive overreactions. In 2009, it was Highland Mall’s decision to close for the weekend. In 2005, it was racially motivated restrictions that closed a series of planned parties, leaving weekend visitors stranded without a place to go.

This year’s overreactions came in the form of four Sixth Street bars and one pizza joint which, for reasons uncertainly related to the crowds attending the Relays, closed operations for the weekend. On Saturday evening, in addition to Hoek’s Death Metal Pizza (which posted no note about its closing), Sixth Street haunts Shakespeare’s, the Blind Pig, Old School Bar & Grill, and Dirty Dog Bar, all sported shuttered doors. Old School cited repairs – Facebook posts indicate the bar redid its flooring – announcing a reopening Sunday morning at 11; Dirty Dog closed, a sign on the window announced, because its staff was “in time out.” On Thursday, door guys for the Blind Pig and Shakespeare’s, both owned by Sixth Street shot bar tycoon Bob Woody, confirmed that the two bars were closing specifically for the Relays.

Bartenders who work on the street said that the two bars typically skip town for a staff retreat Relay weekend, but the guy checking IDs at Shakespeare’s Thursday night explained that the vacation had been pushed back to June, and the bar was strictly “closing for the Relays.” Woody did not respond to the Chronicle’s request for comment.

Out on Sixth Street shortly after midnight, cops behind barricades chatted with visitors both black and white, while club goers posed for pictures and generally milled about without any sense of disturbance of commotion. “Where’s the excitement?” one passerby asked his friend. Dude, we haven’t got a clue.

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