Another day, another uproar against a London club that has been outed for a sadly unsurprising racist door policy. The latest establishment in the firing line is Drama Park Lane, part of the London Hilton on Park Lane, a self-professed “celebrity hangout” that describes itself as an “exclusive club” on its website. Exclusive it certainly is – and exclusionary, finding itself on the receiving end of racism allegations after a mother tweeted about the discrimination her daughter faced at the hands of the nightclub’s door policy.
Nadine Marsh-Edwards tweeted that her daughter went to Drama Park Lane last week and, while queuing for entry, realised that white women were being charged a £10 entry fee, and those who were black were being charged double at £20. Ironically, the club had been advertising a hip-hop night on the day the allegations were made, as so many clubs that continue to spurn black patrons do.
Since her tweet went viral, the alleged incident has been rightly branded a “total disgrace” by two Westminster councillors and the issue is also being looked into by Amy Lamé, London’s night czar. Now, the club may have its licence revoked pending an investigation. In the wake of all the, well, drama, a spokesperson for the venue said, “Thank you for alerting us to this serious allegation, which we are urgently investigating. We operate a non-discriminatory policy and we place a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion. We do not tolerate any form of discrimination against any individual or group.”
They added that the standard door charge at the nightclub is £20, but promotions are offered for various reasons. But added that the promotions are “never on the grounds of discrimination of race, colour or national origin”.
This isn’t the first time the club has been accused of racism. Reviews on Google dating as far back as nine months ago have also alleged ongoing mistreatment of non-white would-be clubgoers.
“Racist crappy place,” said one user, named Brandy Bitendua, just two months ago. “If your [sic] a black women or mixed women AVOID. ”
“Do NOT go to this club. It is so racist,” added Liana-Chanel Brown three months ago. “...They turned away so many girls who were black or mixed race… so we realised the only reason they never let us in is because they obviously didn't want anyone that wasn't white in their club except the prize odd black person.” A user called Richie had been enjoying his visit at Drama, until he says he overheard a member of the staff saying, “No Jews or blacks...They never buy drinks.” Another called Alex complained that he was turned away because he was a “person of colour” nine months ago.
The sad truth is most black people are well aware of this problem and have simply stopped going to places that make it clear we aren’t welcome there
Clubs all over the country have been accused of similarly exclusionary door policies, with much fanfare but without much tangible change. DSTRKT nightclub has consistently been criticised, most memorably in 2015 for turning away a group of women because of their skin tone and weight and prompting the #DoILookDSTRKT hashtag protest in response. Last year, Jourdan Dunn took to Twitter to chastise London nightclub Reign London in Piccadilly for “disgusting” treatment at her own event and for staff that “don’t like black people” after refusing her brother entry. “They want to play our music but don’t want our black ass in the club,” she quipped.
In the same year, a fundraiser for Grenfell Tower victims had to be postponed after Trapeze Bar in Shoreditch objected to bashment music being played, claiming it would attract a “poor quality demographic”. They were due to host the night with the aim of raising £1,000 for those affected by the disaster (who, ironically, were predominantly from ethnic-minority backgrounds), but the bar’s general manager objected to “crap” trap and bashment music being played.
Libertine is another high-profile nightclub that has received a high number of complaints from the public. A thread in 2014, by Twitter user @becksishere, called treatment of black customers into question, as well as a post by blogger Fisayo Longe on her blog, Mirror Me. “I asked why we were not able to get in and was told that they owe us no explanation and we should go home,” she wrote. “I demanded a sensible explanation and some elderly white man, maybe the manager tells me 'maybe because you're black but there are some black people inside, probably because you're not good looking enough'.”
It isn’t just in London, either. Manchester clubs Club Liv and Bijou have allegedly denied entry on the basis on skin colour, too. In 2015, university student Kosi Orah and his friends were barred from Leicester’s Ghost nightclub and damning footage showed that his barring may have been racially motivated. “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 sad truth is most black people are well aware of this problem and have simply stopped going to places that make it clear we aren’t welcome there. While the onus shouldn’t be on us, boycotting is the only meaningful response, since what's usually offered is empty platitudes, the promises of change that don’t materialise. The current cycle is repetitive and tiresome – there’s a Twitter thread, which creates a flurry of articles, which creates a panicked statement from the place in question, which, up to this point, hasn’t been able to create actual results. The majority of the clubs that have been mentioned in this piece are still up and running in peace, having waited for the backlash to blow over and continued business as usual. Meanwhile, more bad reviews outlining their racism continue to pile up, largely ignored until one in particular goes viral. With all the outstanding cases and mounting evidence, we’ve talked about this until there’s very little left to say. It’s time for those with the power to hold these venues to account to take action – and it has been for a while.