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Kingston club denies racism after KU student says black clubbers were turned away

By Solene Capitolin Nov 30, 2016
Viper Rooms Photo credit: The River

A Kingston club has denied operating a racist door policy after receiving complaints, including from KU students.

Several reviews left on The Viper Rooms’ Facebook page condemn The Viper Rooms’ entrance policy with a number claim that they were rudely denied entry.

KU student Zoe Regan, and her friend Kirsten Byers, both 20, described how they were on the guest list for the club one night and had been allowed entry. However, when staff realised they were with some black friends who were behind them in the queue, they were all turned away.

However, the club has insisted that “at no time ever is the decision [to deny entry] based on ethnicity”.

Byers, who attended the club on Saturday, October 22 for a friend’s birthday, said: “Many things to me did not add up. Me and Zoe were allowed entry and we were only pulled out after we asked why our friends hadn’t got in, a large group of black people.”

Regan said: “The whole time we were there I did not see anyone go inside that club who was not white.”

Byers and Regan described the door staff as “rude” and “dismissive”.

The girls, who had stepped out of the queue to ask their friends what had happened, asked security why they were now not allowed back in. They were told that “CCTV said so”.

Regan added: “We started to question the bouncers as to why they had let us in but not the other girls.”

The security claimed that they received information saying that CCTV had caught them doing something that gave them grounds to deny them entry. They were also accused of being drunk, however, neither the police, who were later called, or the club breathalysed them.

Regan said: “A couple of minutes later I watched as a black male with his two white friends was pulled to the side even before his ID could be scanned and kicked out of the queue, while his two white friends were being allowed in.”

In an other incident, Darren Jay, a 24-year-old accountant who attended the club on Saturday, November 5 with his friends, also claimed he was denied entry. Jay, who is mixed race, said: “We got to Viper Rooms at around 10.15pm as we have been denied entry previously and we thought it surely would not be busy and therefore there would be no reason to deny business at that point.

“When we arrived, there were two people ahead of us who were let through with no problems at all. Both were more dressed down than us and white.”

Jay, who had been willing to buy a table and spend a considerable amount of money, claims he was asked to step out of the queue after having had his ID scanned and told, “the person on the camera told us not to let you in”.

Jay said: “We saw a group of three black boys who were dressed very smartly told the same thing as us. Then a big group of white guys were let through with no problem even though they were dressed down wearing trainers. By this point there were around 10 or more boys all non-white standing outside wondering why they hadn’t been let in. The bouncers even had the cheek to continue to let anyone white in.”

Luis Beer, the general manager of the club, said: “We are proud to say that our only admission policy is that we do not admit anyone that we believe may or will spoil somebody else’s night out. This means that we will refuse admission on that basis only.

“This decision is taken by the manager based on behaviour, level of sobriety etc. We do not have old stereotypical admission policies based on antiquated dress codes. I can unequivocally say that at no time ever is the decision based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, colour or creed.”

Beer also said that a significant number of their employees were from a wide range of ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Although the club states that a manager makes the decision on entry, Byers, Regan and Jay said that no manager was present when they and their friends were turned down.

“A manager was not present at any time, they told us that all of the managers were unavailable as they were in a different country,” said Byers.

“Some people were told one of the reasons for not being allowed entry was an objectification issue in that those denied entry weren’t showing enough skin.”

Facebook reviews also claimed that they were turned down after the security noticed they were in a group including black or Asian people, and that the reasons given were also “CCTV said so”, as well as being accused of being too drunk.

The Viper Rooms is not the only club to be accused of operating a racist door policy. DSTRKT, a popular central London nightclub, was recently accused for the second time of denying entry to a group of women due to their ethnicity.

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