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   Inside Out - Yorkshire & Lincolnshire: Friday April 13, 2007
DJ G Money
"In a city like Leeds, with one of the most diverse ethnic mixes across the UK, I think it’s ridiculous."
DJ G Money
Is racism rife in the clubbing capital of the North?

Clubland's colour bar?

Inside Out goes undercover in the North of England's clubbing capital to look into claims that some nightclubs are excluding black and Asian people.

Leeds claims to be an inclusive 24 hour party city.

But our investigation into claims of discriminatory door policies showed that groups of white customers were more likely to be admitted to clubs than their black and Asian counterparts.

Inside Out sent two identically dressed groups of young professionals to queue up outside two clubs in Leeds.

We found that despite their identical dress code and backgrounds, there were treated differently.

Club entry refused

The black party were turned away from both the Rehab and nearby Townhouse clubs.

Young black clubbers
Colour bars. Young black clubbers were turned away

In contrast, the white group were allowed into the same venues without any problems.

The shirts were the same, the shoes were the same and the trousers were the same.

Inside Out accepts that this was not a scientific experiment but that it raised a question of what separated the two groups of clubbers?

And why did three get into the clubs whilst the other three were left out in the cold?

One former doorman at Rehab in Leeds told the BBC:

"We were specifically told, we don’t want any black and Asians in, and that was specific.

"I mean I was really upset about that. They were knocking black and Asian people back."

Timmy Sharry, a construction worker, described what happened at Rehab:

"We got to the front of the queue. The guy stepped forward and said, "Sorry lads, members only"."

Young white clubbers
Young white clubbers - spot the difference in treatment?

A few minutes later, the white party, none of whom were members, were allowed into both venues without question.

BBC 1Xtra DJ G Money said he was appalled by what the programme had observed:

"In a city like Leeds, with one of the most diverse ethnic mixes across the UK, I think it’s ridiculous."

Ismaila, a black man who has been refused entry by the Townhouse club on one occasion in the past says:

"We went and joined the queue and as I looked up, I saw a coloured guy being turned away from the queue.

"A few minutes after, this doorman came up to me asking whether I was with my mate. I said, "Yes, I was with him and is there a problem?"

"He said, "No, there's no problem but you're not coming in tonight".

"If three people can be picked out of the queue, even if they haven't reached the doors, to me, I thought it was race-related."

The Townhouse deny that their decision was based on race and claim that Ismaila and his friend were abusive towards doorstaff.

The two friends deny this.

Open door policy

Neither of the clubs wanted to be interviewed but both firmly deny that they ever operate a discriminatory door policy based on race.

Rehab made the following statement:

"Like any responsible nightclub our entrance policies are based on age, dress code for the venue and the manner of behaviour in which people who are wishing to enter the club are conducting themselves...

"However I can categorically state that all promoters who utilise our venue operate a friendly open door policy regardless of race...

"To suggest that Rehab operates an entrance policy which is based on race 'borders on the ridiculous' as we hold Bhangra, R&B/Hip Hop events on a regular basis which are obviously designed to attract clientele from a variety of ethnic backgrounds."

The Townhouse club also denies the allegations:

"Townhouse is amongst Leeds' most high profile nightclub venues, and attracts a multi-cultural clientele from all over the country...

"Our customers come from a wide demographical range of race, sex and age. Our door policy in no way discriminates based on a person's race, religion or ability...

"Townhouse would again reiterate that decisions are in no way based on race, and any suggestions that Townhouse either refuses entry or limits entry based on race, religion, sex, or disability are untrue."

Have your say?

Have you got an experience which you'd like to share about door policies and clubbing in Leeds?

Email with your views and comments, and we'll publish a selection of them following the programme.

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Read your comments on this story when it was first broadcast in January 2007.


Your Comments

I would like to take this opportunity following what's happen at Leeds in particular the Townhouse clubs and Rehab Night Club to thank and pay you my deep respect for what you're doing.

Therefore, I had the same thing at… a bar in Bristol, South West of England, but I don't want go any on that mater. It is just to let you know those staff is all around England, so whatever we do to tackle those humiliating and stupid things is not enough as England is regard as the best cosmopolitan Country in Europe.

However, I would like to ask few questions please,
1) What will the consequences for these Night Clubs?
2) What actions will be taken by the Government I and the Leeds City Councils?

Thank you.

I was happy to see your programme regarding racism in clubs in Leeds - it's about time somebody does something about it. I personally am a black man who has been turned back from getting into clubs in Leeds and Wakefield and no doubt it was because of the colour of my skin as I always dress in the right way and think I should be allowed to get into clubs like every other person because it is strange to see at this modern age if I am not a white person, I won't be allowed to get into a club to have a good time.

It is about time Britain accepts the fact that racism is a big part of the society and should please do something about this and there should be laws on how bouncers should do their jobs.

A useful programme tonight. Not statistically scientific but valuable as it represents the reality for black people living in the wider Europe too.

However this treatment is tinkering with such forms of racism that have been ongoing since the arrival of the Windrush generation in the 1950's.

2007... still no change in human nature greater than 50 years later. It is the bicentenary of the abolition of slavery too from which does all this flow!!

What are the lawyers in the former Commission for Racial Equality doing to tackle the issue?... they should see the perpetrators in court.

Truly this investigative journalistic exercise has just scratched the surface.

Who is forwarding the findings to the former CRE equivalent etc - they have a continuing problem to solve - its been in their lawyers pending tray for greater than 50 years?

When will we hear of the outcome of the airing of this issue?

Are we to see another 50 years of humiliation and defensiveness for the next generation?...

The 1960's UK race relations legislation is out of date. It has not been updated to reflect the more subtle approaches now being used by racist institutions, racist businesses and racist individuals. To rectify this imbalance penalties should be imposed for such racism at court where institutions, businesses or individuals are found liable e.g. a huge and debilitating fine based on company or individual financial accounts.

Only if these entities are hit where it hurts (in the balance sheet) can this be stamped out. Informal reprimand or a slap on the wrists is useless. Penury is something to fear.

Also all human beings need to vote with their feet and not participate. To do so is to condone this awful human trait.

Kindly note that I have ceased my spend in Europe on holiday when any racism has reared its ugly head when going about my business.

At the end of day... it's difficult for Europe to compete with the Caribbean vibe in winter when getting away from workaday stress. I've just come back from six glorious weeks and missing the place terribly... beautiful people, seas and mountains, great rum, great Caribbean food and not a hint of racism. People should spend their hard-earned money, only where they and it receive excellence in customer care!
Dr Patricia Evans

Last week I was turned away from a bar because I was with a male friend. A man myself, I was told that it was couples only... I pretended that my friend was actually my boyfriend to see if this would change their decision, assuming that they wouldn't take discriminated against people's sexual preference. It did not.

They had been told by the management that they had to keep an equal ratio of men to women inside. Does this bar have to do the same for different ethnicity too? I doubt it... this would be discriminative in itself. But their actions are discriminative to sexual preference anyway... and surely it is just as discriminative to decide based on the way someone dresses as it is to decide based on the colour of their skin?

After all... the way we dress is a direct reflection on our cultural background.

I have never been out in Leeds but I have been out in many places in UK. I am white. I do wonder why this is suddenly now worthy of appearing on TV under the banner of racism, it should be under club ignorance and attitude. Clubs are run by and staffed by bullies.

Most clubs have 'ism' policy. Some clubs I have been to have stopped whites going in. The main 'ism' clubs have is sexism. Clubs will hardly ever turn away a female but often turn away males. They promote ladies free nights where men always have to pay. There is no equality there. but they say they are private clubs and businesses and can run them as they wish.

I run a company and I have to consider equality. I have also seen clubs turn away disabled people. Can't help but feel that is simply because their 'face didn't fit', but they turn many different sorts away because their 'face doesn't fit'. The last time I went to a club, I had been in there for several hours. I tried to find a quite corner to use my mobile and suddenly I was picked up, thrown through a fire door then picked up and thrown to the floor in the road. After several minutes of asking, they told me it was because I had just sneaked in. Clearly I hadn't, but even if I had, is that they way they should treat someone?

I used to be a soldier and now work in the security industry. I have many friends who do door work but they do not particularly like it as it's still full of thugs - licensing has done nothing for this. I reported my assault to the Police. The only CCTV in the area was the clubs own and when the Police requested the tape they were told it hadn't been operating that night - the standard response when they have done something naughty.

CCTV is registered and supposed to be working. I even pointed out to the Police that the doormen were not wearing SIA badges which is against the law - they did nothing.

I was later told that the club was reminded to wear their licences at all times... why reminded? I couldn't identify the thugs by name because they had no ID. Are speeding motorists reminded to slow down?

There seems to be a darker side to clubs which allows them to be a law unto themselves.

I have just seen your programme on Blacks/Asian people being barred from entering clubs. I'm a white British male.... well dressed... non violent. During the 70/80's I was occasionally barred from entering clubs… never once did I think... it's because I'm white!!

One club in London that was a black person's club... refused to let me in... I didn't go to the press to complain funnily enough!!

I am just watching your programme on clubs discriminating against different races & you are right to say what your footage showed was ridiculous & racist! However on numerous occasions I have been to London & have been discriminated against for being white!!!

I am no racist but other races are a lot more racist then the clubs shown on your footage & we are in Britain!

This is not only a problem in Leeds, situations like this happen on a weekly basis in Liverpool. As a black nightclub promoter I have always tried to promote funky house nights that encourage people of all races, religions, nationalities etc, to come to my nights and enjoy everything we have to offer as one. For the most part I have succeeded. However there are many nightclubs that don't share these views on integration.

Just this past bank holiday Sunday my business partner and I had just finished another successful night and wished to continue clubbing in… an after-hours venue in Liverpool city centre. We waited quietly in the queue until we got to the front.

However even though I knew a number of the doormen quite well and they were more than happy to grant us admission, the owner whom I have never seen before signalled to them to knock two of us back. Those that were black of course, whilst the white members of our group were allowed to enter. My friend and I simply shook the hands of the guys we knew and walked away.

Although the door were the ones that stopped us from entering, it was clear that it caused some of them great discomfort. One of the doormen even followed me down the street to apologise. This situation demonstrates that most of the time the door personnel are the scapegoats merely acting on the instructions of racist, ignorant, bigot club and bar owners.

I have also suffered this type of discrimination whilst trying to gain entry… {to other clubs}. In a group of twelve, six white friends were allowed in and six black friends were knocked back. The door staff was happy to allow all twelve of us in prior to seeing the ethnic diversity of the group. All this in the city that won Capital of Culture 2008.

It's time it stopped, not just in Liverpool and Leeds but everywhere. It's up to the victims to keep this issue hot and air these discrepancies to our local councils and government reps. By naming and shaming such places that encourage this behaviour more can be done to promote fair and equal treatment to everyone.

I watched your programme delving into the problem of racism within the Leeds nightlife scene and thought it was an excellent programme which raised some essential questions…

Thanks and keep up the good work.

Having watched the programme on Friday night, I am finding it difficult to believe the defence of these two Night Clubs. Did Inside Out try to make this story up by asking those involved in the filming to pretend that "discrimination" existed at those clubs? Indeed if the story is genuine, then it wouldn't take a rocket scientist to identify the similarities between the door policies of these two Leeds Night Clubs and the many other public places that existed in Apartheid South Africa in the 70's and 80's. This should have been a Headline story.

John, Surrey


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