Club Empire closes in Ybor City
The writing's been on the wall for a while now, but on Thursday, it finally happened: Ybor City's controversial Club Empire has closed.
The hip-hop megaclub had been under fire since early October, when a patron in the club's VIP room was fatally shot in the head. It was only the latest incident of violence and crime at the club, which has seen three other murders since opening in 2002.
Though Empire was frequently held up as a symbol of "what's wrong with Ybor City," it was also once a top-drawing hip-hop club. Artists like Busta Rhymes, Trick Daddy, Pharoahe Monch and KRS-One performed there, and it was the site of a Dennis Rodman Super Bowl party. Before it became Empire, the club at 1902 E Seventh Ave. was the original home of Masquerade, where it hosted shows by alt-rock luminaries like Nirvana, Jane's Addiction and the Sugarcubes.
Photo (2007): Danny Ghitis, tbt*