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No hoods, no trainers…no black people?

INVESTIGATION: Are nightclubs operating racially discriminating door policies?

LAST MONTH the story of university student Kosi Orah and his friends being denied entry into Leicester’s Ghost nightclub made headlines after footage of an exchange between Orah and the club’s doorman emerged.

In the footage, the bouncer appeared to uncomfortably imply that he had been given direct orders on who should be allowed into the club.

“So what you’re saying is that Ghost won’t let us in because we are black?” questioned Orah.

“If it was my club, I would let you in but it isn’t... that’s why I want to set you straight, lads,” the bouncer replied.

The incident is evidence of a growing and persistent concern among partygoers of African and Caribbean heritage of being forced out of the West End and other city centres through stealth measures such as ambiguous door policies and stringent licensing conditions like the Met Police’s 696 form – a risk assessment promoters must fill out two weeks ahead of any event before a licence can be granted.

The form has been used to shut down several urban events – a term that is almost synonymous for events that cater to black audiences.

Many club promoters claim this form has been disproportionately used to shut down hip-hop and grime events, as well as others that play music that attract black crowds.


In 2011, DJ Snips – a respected hip-hop DJ – spoke out on Twitter claiming that one West End night had told him if he wanted to host an event “black people were not welcome” at the venue.

He claimed further that he was aware of West End nightclubs that only allowed a certain number of black or Asian people into such venues.

“Understand when you rave in the West [End] in a club that plays hip-hop but there are less that 10 per cent of black folk in there that it’s not coincidence,” he wrote.

“I know people who do the door at so many of these clubs and are actually given a ‘black quota’.”

Nearly 40 per cent of Voice readers expressed that they had been refused entry into a nightclub in the UK because of race, claiming further that the discrimination was ‘blatantly’ obvious. A further 27 per cent reported suffering a similar rejection.

‘SUSPICIOUS HAIR’: Jermain Jackman

Jermain Jackman, an aspiring politician who won the BBC talent show The Voice, has also weighed into the debate, telling reporters that he had faced similar treatment on his nights out, even for events thrown in his honour.

He told the BBC: “I remember standing outside a Mayfair club after finishing a big performance with a couple of other contestants off The Voice and The X Factor and other TV shows (and) I remember standing outside for an hour and I was hearing excuse after excuse from the bouncers.”

Jackman said he was eventually allowed into the event, but a Turkish friend was forced to remain outside.

In another incident, the talented singer shared that he had been refused entry to a club because of his haircut.

“I remember one of the security guards saying: ‘We don’t know your haircut, it might be a gang-affiliated type of haircut’,” he said.

Fashion and lifestyle blogger Fisayo Longe recently spoke publicly about her experience at West End hotspot Libertine, formerly Chinawhite.

On her popular website Mirror Me, she alleges that door staff at Libertine denied her and two friends entry on October 21, 2014, despite being on the guest list in what she felt was a racially-motivated decision.

Though she had previously attended the club on two separate occasions, on that particular night Longe said she was told by an employee that the reason she wasn’t allowed in was “maybe because you’re black but there are some black people inside, probably because you’re not good looking enough”.

The Voice contacted Libertine, which issued an open invitation for our team to attend the club and see firsthand whether there was any truth to the allegations.

COMPLAINT: Fisayo Longe

While its owner said he would not like to make an official comment, he did express frustration at the allegations, which he insisted had no merit and that the club never discriminated on the basis of race.

Despite significant anecdotal evidence, proving allegations of discrimination based on race at the door of high-end clubs is challenging because of “fluid” door policies that give venues the right to refuse entry to whomever they please.

Sources told The Voice that the door policies can differ on a Saturday to a Monday night and who is allowed entry may depend on what kind of partygoers are already inside the venue. Dress code, levels of sobriety, age or the sex make-up of a particular group may also be factors.

How then can you prove if someone has been denied entry because of their race?

Have you ever had a racist experience at a West End nightclub? Are you a doorman who has been forced to carry out a discriminatory door policy? Are you a club promoter who feels you have been treated unfairly? The Voice wants to hear your stories. Email or call 0207 510 0370 to speak to us in confidence.

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