– Editorial written by Dave House
First 500 ladies free in the club, guys must wear a Catholic school uniform, and possibly have on glasses to carry an “unlikely to cause harm” image. In addition, there are foreign-born clubowners that clearly admit that they will take urban money but REFUSE to call themselves an “urban establishment”. Yes, my friend, who needs the COLORED ONLY/ WHITES ONLY sign from the southern water fountains in the 50s when all you need is to be apart of today’s Hip Hop nightlife culture to experience “Club Jim Crow”.
For example, if a darker skinned working class male goes to a club, he is looked upon like as if unworthy of the gift of life if he is not ordering bottle service or not a recognized sports-athlete or entertainer. Even if the darker skinned working class male agreed to buy three bottles because he is with a party of four, the club wouldn’t take the responsibility of asking them if they have a designative driver. Is everything about a profit and publicity to the point where a humanlife is disposable at the expense of the clubs head count and bar minimum? Have we taken the “any publicity is good publicity” philosophy so far to the point where a club would rather have a patron get a DUI, or at worse die, after leaving their club, as long as it is written in the headlines and they spell the the club’s name right? Let’s Think Outside the Box…
In every club’s defense, there has to be a certain image, look, and persona to keep the prestige of the establishment from losing value. The club is in the business of selling experience, with a splash of nostalgia. To enter the establishment, the club must pre-determine its audience to make sure that the patron fits the criteria of its proposed image and persona. This is why a dress code is mandatory to pre-qualify entry.
In today’s atmosphere of fast life and instant gratification, the major market cities downtown club owners and promoters have taken their marketing philosophy to levels that mirror Jim Crow laws of the 1950’s in southern states; where there is an obvious social and economic discrimination against people who actually fit their criteria. If a person isn’t a well-known socialite or celebrity, or of an undeniable economic status, then it is likely they will be denied entry despite matching the clubs standards of ethics.
For example, the lighter skinned ladies will stroll right in a club while the darker skinned ladies have to wait until the line “calms down”. Males are sized up with a pre-determined reason to not let them in and even encouraged not to come in by overcharging their entry fee. Social discrimination has been taken to different levels of extremes,where there is a crossroad between having the under-dressed or economically-challenged club patron determined to get in the club with VIP-like status, and a security detail who has been carefully instructed to let a certain amount of people in the club based on their own discretion. In addition, it is also the clubs strategic marketing plan to have a scene outside the club that may sometimes be more active than what is going on inside, just to display an image that their party is actually well in attendance.
Jim Crow laws in the club are regulated ruthlessly in cities where a Hip Hop crowd is likely to be in attendance. Owners are giving club DJ’s a play-list or a criteria of music to play which usually says, “Don’t play too much rap or hip hop or anything urban with too much drums”. The urban selection of music is getting more limited which causes DJ’s to play records like Poison from New Edition to start a token old-school set, “I was from 233rd and White Plains” as a filler for Hispanic-dominated clubs, ‘Hypnotize” by Notorious B.I.G. for African American-clubs, and “Girls Dem Sugar” or “Deport Them” as the token reggae- record. More records are getting played from 10 years ago than today’s music in older clubs, and in younger urban crowd clubs the same records are being played over and over.
The backlash with the clubs that is occurring is that the clubs who will conveniently let people of elite social and economic status in are the ones disturbing the peace. Most times, security may not frisk those who decided to buy a bottle service. Club owners encourage superstar recording-artists or professional athletes to come to their clubs and if something violent occurs, then it is great publicity. At the expense of someone’s life or career, the club would rather the publicity than the safety of its own patrons. This type of paradox makes the club scene one big “rat race” where the blind leads the blind, followed by the confused. It makes you ask, what is the point in attending??
Thinking outside the box allows you to understand that music and the night-life scene is more of a niche-based market and it’s only the mass-marketed club scene getting a bad rap. Why go to a club that is playing the same music for the last ten years instead of attending a club that it playing the same genre of music, with variety. At mass-marketed clubs, every attendee is more into their smart phones than they are dancing. There is more socializing with people you already know then dancing with those of like-minded taste in music and culture. If they want to have a good time at a club, go where everyone knows your name, your dollar is respected, you are treated like a human and not ‘head-count’, and you will enjoy the music from the skillful DJ.
Music is an art that is supposed to soundtrack time, and a club is a place where people come with the intent on having a good time. Instead, Hip Hop nightclubs are adopting laws not seen since the days of Jim Crow; where clubs make it seem as if they are doing the people justice for being in business. Clubs should welcome you, NOT question you. Their Security details should be to to protect you, NOT restrain you. The DJ’s are supposed to entertain you and fulfill the soundtrack to your night so you have an experience. Anything less than that then the club isn’t worth attending. Is it worth arguing about why you should be allowed entry when there is nothing to do inside the club but “tweet”. What we are experiencing in most clubs in downtown scenes are separation, discrimination, and not enough satisfaction.There must be a level of balance where those who attend can enjoy themselves.
Thinking outside the box allows you to understand that you should only spend money in places where you are guaranteed a good time. Spend money in places where it doesn’t make sense to be on your phones, and it only makes sense to dance or socialize and have a good experience. DJ’s provide that with music, club promoters provide that with hospitality, security provides that by maintaining the peace and offering assistance to those who may need.
Until you and your hard earned dollars are respected, continue to expect and respect “disrespect” as the standard and experience at “Club Jim Crow”, in a downtown area near you.
Dave House, Founder of WHOOOOSHOUSE WORLDWIDE, LLC
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Dave House is the Author of “Street Rules in the Office Volume1: The Beginner’s Guide to Focus in the Music Biz” will be available July 11,2012