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BBC 1Xtra DJs cancel NYE gig at Bournemouth race row club

TAKING A STAND: (From left) BBC 1Xtra radio hosts Seani B & DJ Ace

TWO WELL-known BBC 1Xtra DJs have cancelled their New Year's Eve bash at Cameo in Bournemouth after the club was accused of turning away black customers.

"As two black men who have active careers in a high profile arena, we believe we need to act upon our beliefs," the pair said in a statement.

The nightclub was accused of racism after not letting a pre-booked group of black professional men through the door.

The club “categorically refutes” claims of racism and maintains it “operates a professional and well-run venue and we reserve the right to refuse entry for various reasons, but race is never one of them”.

They said: “Based on our vast experience and judgement we did not allow in a total of 150 people on Saturday night. We have fully refunded the group and apologise for any disappointment.”

The Playmaker Group’s DJ’s Seani B & DJ Ace were scheduled to appear at Cameo Nightclub on New Years Eve as part of their annual celebration.

Both men are award-winning radio DJ’s who host weekly shows on BBC Radio 1Xtra to a large and significant audience and the duo have taken the decision that due to the nature of the events at Cameo they feel unable on principle to commit to the booking.

In a joint statement, the DJs said: "It is impossible to ignore these seemingly growing number of cases which are seeing the backbone of the music we love – the audience, and in particular young black audiences – being denied the opportunity to enjoy it as other members of the audience.”

“With that in mind we do not feel we can put our name to an event at a venue where - had we have been audience members – we may not have been welcomed."

They continued: "Celebrating our culture with those who help to bring it to life is very important to us, particularly in clubland, and selective door policies based on race does nothing to enhance that culture. It is with this in mind that we have decided not to appear at Cameo in Bournemouth on New Years Eve 2015."

The group of men, who were turned away from the club earlier this month, previously told The Voice that the experience was "humiliating".

The incident, which took place on December 5, was captured on film by Marcus Leon, who had travelled from London to the venue with 15 friends.

Leon, a secondary school teacher, told The Voice his friends, comprising an NHS project manager and a Ministry of Defence employee, had an annual tradition of reuniting on night out at various venues around the UK.


TURNED AWAY: Secondary school teacher Marcus Leon filmed the event on his mobile phone

For this year’s festivities the group, aged between 28 and 34, planned an evening of dinner and clubbing out in Bournemouth, making a £750 booking in November.

The 33-year-old explained: “We told the sales associate when we were booking that we’re a large group of 15 and he assured us that it wasn’t a problem as the club frequently hosted stag [bachelor] parties and had tables for up to 25 people.”

Leon, a Southampton graduate, explained how he and his party arrived at the venue only to be stopped from entering by the club’s doormen.

“We were obviously confused because we had a confirmed booking which we had paid in full,” Leon said.

“We asked what was the problem was and the head doorman said that they were not allowing any large groups of guys from London which was just ridiculous.”

Unable to provide a suitable answer, the doorman encouraged the group to speak to the manager.

“[The manager] came outside and spoke to the head doorman for a couple of minutes and then came to speak to us, he was like ‘lads, look, unfortunately you’re not going to be allowed in due to security risk - we can’t let you in.”

The manager, who is visible in the footage, refuses to comment while the incident is being recorded, but as Leon and his friends protested the decision, they noticed a party of 12 white men being ushered into the venue.

“We were well dressed, nobody in the party was drunk or being rowdy and we witnessed them let in other large groups of white males,” he said. “Once you attribute all those facts to the situation the only thing that make us different to everyone else was the colour of our skin.

“We had decided that we didn’t want to go there anymore, as it was very clear that we weren’t welcome but then it became an issue of the money we had paid.”

The club, which boasts a capacity of 2,800 people, accepted £750 from the group, which reserved them a table and drinks for the night.

“We had a booking and we had a confirmation, the club was happy to accept our custom until we got to their doorstep,” Leon added.

The incident occurred just days before the 50th anniversary Race Relations Act, which outlaws discrimination on the "grounds of colour, race, or ethnic or national origins" in public places.

Commenting on the policy, designed to deter against racial discrimination, the Leon said: “I feel like the Race Relations Act only exists symbolically, because nobody or institution should be able to racially profile people publically while advertising that they accept everyone, and the police were standing there but they have no powers to do anything.”

Police were called to the venue by club officials and told the group the issue was a “civil matter”.


CAN GET INTO DOWNING STREET BUT NOT INTO A CLUB: Leon's friend Travis Stewart was also a part of the rejected group

Leon said: “It was the first time in a long time that I’ve been made to feel so visibly different. It was humiliating, which made me irate that 15 professional black men can’t go out in public, socialise and be accepted just like everybody else is.

“It wasn’t about the money anymore, it was about the prejudgement and discriminatory practices that essentially reduced us to thugs,” he said. “We’re not the type of people they assumed we were. We’re all professionals, we work hard, and we’re not going to stand for it because it’s not acceptable in this day and age. As a group who actively contribute to society, we’re not going to stand for it.”

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