As we all know, this past month in Seattle were bookended by horrific crimes against the police force. One of the side effects has been the impact both incidents have had upon the Central District, an area that already had a relatively tenuous relationship with the SPD.
In a rare and eerie coincidence, the SWAT-charged manhunt for Maurice Clemmons that essentially shut down the Central District on Sunday night was only a few blocks away from where Officer Tim Brenton was shot on Halloween night (that shooting itself echos of when a young 15-year-old Garfield High student was shot, similarly in the head, on Halloween in 2008). Obviously, violence--involving guns, cops or otherwise--deeply impacts the quality of life in the Central District, one element of its shifting culture that includes a lack of retail vitalization and residential gentrification.
One often overlooked aspect of the neighborhood's history is that in the 1940s and 50s, the CD was home to dozens of venues that lined the famous Jackson Street and defined Seattle's burgeoning jazz scene. Now, the lone place for local music on Jackson Street is the Hidmo, which opened as a performance space three years ago this month.The rest of the CD is similarly lacking places for live music, especially now that the Langston Hughes has closed for renovation. One of the last holdouts is Waid's, a Haitian bar and nightclub on 12th and Jefferson that regularly books reggae, blues, Brazilian and hip-hop themed nights. It, too, has an unfortunately familiar relationship with the police. It's located in a strange Bermuda Triangle between the decrepit juvenile detention center and Seattle University, and the corner often has a strong police presence on weekend nights.
Tonight, local Central District legend poet/MC Piece performs with her Queens Ransom backing band at Webbed: hosted by DJ Kuhnex, who DJs the popular monthly Pam's Jam night at Pam's Kitchen on University Ave. The event also features Wayniac, Jarv Dee, Maniac, and Jugga Hill, as well as the exemplary Yirim Seck. Also, it's free before 11 p.m., and $5 afterwards.
Waid's is only a few blocks south of the ensconced Capitol Hill scene but feels like a city away; perhaps a real revitalization of the Central District starts with some folks drifting away from the familiar to experience a different urban nightlife.