West End night club ‘DSTRKT‘ allegedly turned a group of black women away last week Saturday night for being “too dark” and “too overweight”. DSTRKT has since denied all allegations. Many more people have come out to say they have had similar experiences with the club in the past. What followed was a string of protests held outside the club, nationwide news coverage and a unified cry on social media for a change in the way the club treats would be party goers. SpotlightFirst once again gives you Bezzy’s thoughts on the situation.
I hope I have enough of a voice to shame and expose brands like @dstrktlondon who pull these foul stunts
— WICKEDSKENGMAN 4. (@Stormzy1) September 29, 2015
So what are the real issues with regards to the whole Dstrkt situation? Initially my thoughts on the events that led to the whole outcry were one of disgust and anger. It wasn’t that I was surprised by the clubs “discriminatory” door policies; if I was to be honest, it’s something I expect and a reality that’s all too familiar. This does not mean that I agree with the policies or that I believe them to be acceptable, but it’s a fact that I like many have come to accept, understand and ignore. What really struck me vividly when I first caught coverage of the event was how the club management chose to deal with the issue. That was the main source of my initial anger. In my opinion, the clubs reply and approach was completely ignorant, inadequate and totally wrong. The appropriate reaction should have been one of remorse and purpose; an apology should have been issued as soon as possible. “All publicity is good publicity” maybe, but sometimes publicity can be damaging and in this instance the clubs reaction added more fuel to an already rapidly burning fire.
— DSTRKT LONDON (@dstrktlondon) October 1, 2015
However, after taking a few days to reflect on the situation here are few of my thoughts. Throughout the coverage I saw a lot of people comment negatively on the protests: “Why are they protesting?” “They can easily go to another club” “it’s not a big issue” “This happens all the time.” At this point, my perspective started to shift away from anger and outrage. I began to ask myself some questions about the situation, considering the right and wrong of all the parties that were affected by the situation. Firstly, for those who believe that the situation does not affect them, I would urge you to reconsider. As far as I’m concerned the issues the situation highlighted affect us all, note that I also said “issues” not “issue.” The reason being that the situation did not just highlight a discriminatory club policy that was in my opinion grossly unlawful with regard to the stipulations of the Equality Act 2010. What it did for me was that it highlighted the depth of the prejudicial and discriminatory beliefs that are so deeply embedded in our society and culture that we often unaware of it until we are faced with situations like this. Moreover, It also highlighted the power and influences of social media.
I once said “Social media is the mob; it will make or break you, very fast.” This situation highlights that sentiment to me even more explicitly. In this instance social media stepped in and acted as a catalyst for an appropriate reaction. “The Mob” took control of the situation and if you know anything about Roman politics and history, you know how important it is to have control and support of ‘The Mob’. Dstrkt handled the situation wrong and in reply the people turned against them and rightly so. The protests highlighted the spirit of the people. That fact that we still live in a world were people are not completely afraid to challenge the status quo and stand up for what they believe in. It also outlines the positive influence that social media continues to have on our conscience. Its ability to bring people together and “unite them against a prehistoric and wrong way of thinking.” This is the power of The Mob and this is a power that cannot be overlooked or underestimated, it must be acknowledged and it is a force to reckon with.
The situation also prompted me to reflect on the state of our society and the ideas that underpin our pre-reflective notions of: race, culture and more specifically beauty. The clubs response was that they were not racist and they strongly denied the idea that their policies were prompted by racial discrimination. The truth is the clubs management and promotion team for the most part probably genuinely believed that their policies weren’t grossly discriminatory, prejudicial or racist. Their motivation was to protect their business and the image of their service, so what they did/do is the norm. In my opinion, this belief is where the biggest issue out of the whole situation lies.
Our prejudicial notions of race and our misconceptions of beauty are so deeply embedded in our social conscience and institution’s that we are often grossly unaware of them. Moreover, even when we are aware of them we are all too comfortable ignoring them because “there are bigger issues to fight.” We do not challenge these notions enough and we often do very little to challenge them as a collective. “This happens all the time” becomes our collective sentiment; we are left in a state of ignorance and misunderstanding, something that is all too familiar in our society. We passively accept that we are not “DstrktEnough” because we are socially conditioned into believing that this is the truth and challenging these ideas would be futile. In this instance some of our pre-conceptions about beauty were challenged. The idea that to be classed as beautiful we must look a certain way, have a certain skin tone, be a certain body weight, be a certain height, have a certain dress sense and I could go on for days. These are ideas that are prominent and deeply embedded in our society not just in the club industry. These are ideas that are objectified by many industries for example the fashion industry. We have constructed our notions of beauty in such a way that it now often excludes large demographics of women (and men) in our society. Some of us are even all too comfortable with the misconception that we are not beautiful unless we comply with the idealisations of European beauty. This to me was perhaps the main thought that I took from the whole Dstrkt situation.
Moreover, and more importantly the situation prompted me to the belief that we must begin to challenge all the prejudicial ideas and stigmas that exist throughout our society. We have now seen the power of social media and its ability to give people a voice. Its ability to aid people in challenging that status quo, thus we must continue to use this to our advantage in the future. There are no smaller or bigger issues when it comes to discrimination or prejudice, there are only issues and in our society we have issues. These issues stem out of ill-conceived and out-dated ideas that are so deeply embedded in our institutions and conscience that we may not even be aware of their complete depth. However, we are now aware that we are able to challenge these ideas; and we must continue to challenge them for a fairer and more equal society.
Words by @Bezzy_bb