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DSTRKT nightclub PR boss: 'I have nothing to apologise for'

FIGHT FOR THE RIGHT TO PARTY: The young women from north London who are taking on DSTRKT. Zalika Miller (far left) with friends Reisha and Tasha

THE HEAD of marketing at DSTRKT nightclub says he has "nothing to apologise for" after the award-winning West End venue was accused of racism for reportedly turning away a group of black girls for being "too dark" and "too fat".

At a last-minute demonstration outside the high-end club yesterday evening (Sept 29), over 60 protesters demanded answers from management following Saturday night's incident.

Addressing the crowd, head of marketing Doug Wendel said the company would not be held responsible for comments made by bar staff and doormen.

"I don't speak for the club, I speak for myself," he told the group, largely made up of black women.

His comments came moments before Karrueche Tran, the model of ex-girlfriend of R&B singer Chris Brown, arrived for her scheduled appearance.

Tran, who is half black, attempted to slide into the club through a side entrance before she was spotted by protesters.

Footage of the incident shows Tran being swarmed by vocal campaigners who had pleaded with the star to snub the appearance in a sign of solidarity.

Prior to her appearance, the 27-year-old expressed disappointment at the situation but remained committed to her plans to attend.

Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton is also said to have made a quick entrance through a side door to avoid the angst of protesters.

Former EastEnders actress Bunmi Mojekwu shared how her own personal experience inspired her to take part in the public demonstration.

The 26-year-old revealed how she too had been turned away at the doors of another popular West End nightclub because she did not fit the standard.

BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL: One protestor defiant placard at the protest last night (Sept 29) [PIC CREDIT: Ade Onibada]

As club goers trickled in to the venue, protesters, who stood on the opposite side of the road dubbed the “reject wall”, chanted “beauty has no colour” and “shame on DSTRKT”.

The peaceful protest was organised by up-and-coming actress Zalika Miller, who was one of four black girls turned away from the high end venue on Saturday night, claiming race played a major factor.

Earlier in the day, she issued an open invite on social media to other people to join the protest.

She said: "Come and peacefully make a stand with us [on September 29] along the 'rejects wall' outside DSTRKT Nightclub at 10pm. Let us unite. All the so called 'uglies' and 'fatties' come dressed to kill. Bring banners/sheets, write on anything #doilookdstrkt."

Read the background to the story here.

Details of Saturday's incident, first reported in The Voice newspaper, have been shared widely on social media supported by the hashtag #DoILookDstrkt, challenging the criteria standard to enter the high end venue and prompted other black women to come forward with their own stories of discriminatory treatment at the hands of door staff.

Miller and group of young women were met with applause as they arrived in their best attire - including heels - and maintained the demonstration was to be peaceful and constructive.

Despite the peaceful protest, the police presence grew as the night wore on and became particularly active when protesters boldly stormed the venue doorstep.

Wendel addressed Lin Mei, who was also in the party that was tuned away on Saturday night (Sept 26), and engaged in a heated conversation with Brooke Norton, the DSTRKT promoter who spoke on social media about the experience of her black friends who she had invited to the venue.

Wendel dismissed Norton as a third party promoter and not a DSTRKT employee. The same response appeared readily available for anyone culpable.

SUPPORT: Former Eastenders actress Bunmi Mojekwu [PIC CREDIT: Ade Onibada]

When questioned by The Voice on why the club had failed to address the allegations including multiple statement requests from The Voice, Wendel bluntly responded: “Because the allegations are false, there’s no proof that we have refused a guest because of race or discrimination.”

Referring to the incident that sparked the protest, Wendel again dismissed the matter as “rumours” with no substantiation despite exchange of messages between Mei and a promoter shared on social media.

“The messages from who? They’re not members of staff, they don’t work for DSTRKT. I cannot be responsible for the words of third parties, they do not work for the venue, they provide a service for the venue,” he said.

When asked whether he believed it was important that members of society felt welcome at the establishment, he responded, “yes,” and appeared to agree that the present circumstance had left particular groups uncomfortable and unwelcome.

Wendel insists that nothing wrong had been done directly on the part of the club and made clear that he personally would not be apologising because he “hadn’t done anything wrong.”

He said the club would handle the matter internally.

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