Crotty 1, dancing 0 

Cyberzone died Monday. The late-night dance club's well-known struggle for survival, through heroin-related deaths and Orange County's bottle-club laws, abruptly ended when a jury convicted owner Dan Davis of operating an unlicensed rave club after a three-day trial. He received a $1,000 fine.

The jury didn't buy Davis' argument that when he reopened under the moniker Aura, he was running a bona fide dance studio, which would have exempted his club from the law that County Chairman Rich Crotty rammed through earlier this year. And with good reason: Police testified that no one actually took the lessons, which were taught, in part, by a former Cyberzone bouncer.

While Davis' lawyer, David Wasserman, continues to fight the ordinance itself in federal court, Cyberzone itself is "dead and done. I think `Davis is` ready to throw the towel in," says Wasserman.

Given the year he's had, it's understandable. His club has been targeted by the county's nuisance-abatement and code enforcement boards, as well as the sheriff's office, and he was plagued by media reports of heroin-binging youths overdosing in his parking lot. Soon after Gov. Jeb Bush appointed him to office in January, Crotty launched an all-out assault on after-hours entertainment, first with a rave-club ban, then with the more deadly bottle-club ban.

The first was aimed at the proposed Venus & Mars club at the site of a former car dealership at East Colonial Drive and State Road 436 in Azalea Park. But by the time the rave law was enacted, that club had met all of the county's requirements to operate as planned. Still, because of permitting problems, it has yet to open. As for the bottle-club law, that was aimed squarely at Davis, as there are no other bottle clubs in the county.

On grounds that the county unfairly targeted Davis and that the law itself is unconstitutional, Wasserman continues to fight on. While Davis could try to open another legitimate dance studio, the long legal battle and the costly renovation that Davis performed at the county's request has drained his funds.

"For Dan Davis," says Wasserman, who says he'll prevail, "there is hope in sight. `But` it will be in a courtroom, not a nightclub."


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