Yes, Bar Louie's dress code is racist

Categories: News

louie.jpg
Photo by Louie Baur via Flickr
On Tuesday, City Pages published an article about Bar Louie's dress code policy. The sign outside the Uptown bar restricted entry to anyone wearing baggy pants, flat-brimmed hats, large chains worn outside the shirt, sleeveless shirts, athletic apparel, jerseys without collars, and long white t-shirts after 9 p.m. on Thursdays through Sundays. The comments were disturbing, to say the least.

See also:
Is Bar Louie's new dress code racist?

Bar Louie sued by Dylan Berg, HIV-positive ex-server, after he was removed from schedule

Here's a small taste:

"As we all know the negro's refuse to act like civilized human beings no matter where they go. From spitting all over patio's to smoking their blunts, swearing and screaming into a phone they, are a public nuisance and white people are fucking sick of sugar coating it as not to be considered a racist."

"Heck no. I want to be able to go to places where people dress respectfully. I agree 100%. I'm tired of looking at people's underwear because their pants are around their knees. Sick of people spouting their attitudes and egos from under their flat brimmed hats. Go to the Station on Broadway and kick it if you want to be tough like that. I'm done with it.. "

"You have to fit a cookie cutter image everywhere you go. School, work, the movies, grocery store, ect. Every private business has the right to refuse service for any reason they want. Don't like it that way? Then I guess you should stay home and look like a 12 year old wannabe gangster. Grown people shouldn't need to sag their pants and can put more than an undershirt on to go out."

Scattered throughout the almost 500 comments (which, based on Facebook profile pictures, were largely written by white people) were a number of first-hand accounts from residents who have experienced racial profiling at Minneapolis bars and clubs. Those who asserted that the dress code was racist or claimed to have experienced profiling directly were met with comments like, "Oh fuck off you fat cunt," "Sounds like someone never got laid. :-( poor dat," and "nobody wants you there anyhow, believe me."

What the hell, Minneapolis?

Staunch racism is lurking just beneath our city's progressive veil. As soon as we're cloaked behind keyboards, the Minnesota nice front is thrown out the window, revealing some atrocious truths. Again and again, our commenters proved that Bar Louie's dress code is, in fact, a race issue, whether or we want to admit it.

The dress code and others like it are not overtly race-driven, but they revolve around a stereotype that's usually thrown on young black males. Though it's true that hip-hop's rise in popularity has inspired people of all races, genders, and class backgrounds to adapt similar styles, the clothing items Bar Louie is targeting have their roots in black culture.

Yes, the stereotype is problematic. Not all white people wear pleated slacks, button up shirts, and yachting caps, and not all black people wear baggy jeans and long gold chains. It's a shitty generalization, but it's one that Bar Louie seems set on perpetuating in order to keep "thugs" out of their establishment.

Let's take a closer look at some of the clothing items Bar Louie now prohibits, starting with "long chains worn outside the clothing." Will women who walk in wearing chunky gold necklaces be denied entry? Probably not. Since Bar Louie is clearly basing this dress code on stereotypes, I presume they view women as passive, submissive, and nonviolent. Women are not the people Bar Louie is trying to keep out. Bar Louie is talking about bling. They're talking about hip-hop fashion. They're referring to an image of black male youths that they've likely associated with hooliganism and violence.

Bar Louie has also banned long white t-shirts without specifying how long is too long. The same goes for baggy pants. Will Bar Louie have measuring tape at the front door to measure the distance between people's denim and thighs? Of course not -- they're looking for an overall image. They won't be going through a checklist. They'll be looking you up and down, trying to decide whether you fit the forbidden stereotype.

A number of our commenters wrote about being denied entry to Bar Louie for wearing flat-brimmed hats, though white men wearing the same style of hats were seated a few steps away. The accounts are reminiscent of a story from 2009, when a group of six Washington University students were denied entry to The Original Mother's during a class trip to Chicago. Their sin: wearing excessively baggy pants.

The students, all of whom were black, offered to return to their hotel and change, but the manager insisted they would still be denied entry.

"Alarm bells went off in my mind automatically," Regis Murayi told NPR. "A lot of times, baggy-jeans policies are used, in my opinion, to reject a certain demographic, mostly black men, from being allowed entry into certain places."

After witnessing several white students wearing similarly baggy clothing enter the bar, he decided to see what would happen if he switched pants with a white classmate.

The classmate, though three inches shorter and 40 pounds lighter, was allowed entry wearing the same pants Murayi was denied in.

Murayi and his friends were law students. They were on a school trip. They weren't attempting to hit up the bar after participating in a drive-by shooting.

This isn't about having "class." If it were, dress code signs would specify that clothing couldn't be torn up or dirty and my scrubby self would immediately be turned away for showing up in my signature torn-up fishnets, dirty t-shirt, and sneakers. Instead, the dress code implicitly suggests that in order to enter the bar, you must leave your personal preferences and/or cultural roots behind and dress in a "dignified" -- a.k.a. "whiter" -- fashion.

Sure, Bar Louie will probably turn away a few white dudes for wearing flat-brimmed hats, but the core issue is clear: This is a racial issue.

In the initial Fox 9 story on Bar Louie's dress code, Minneapolis resident Michelle Horovitz told Fox 9 that the restrictions were like the "new Jim Crow being enforced in a colorblind way."

I agree. Almost 50 years after the abolition of segregation laws in the United States, it's clear that business owners are still finding not-so-subtle loopholes to keep people separated and afraid of each other.

If your business enforces a dress code like Bar Louie's, you can bet I won't be there. Hit 'em where it hurts, y'all.


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861 comments
solotv84
solotv84

Bar Louie racists? laughable, it's no secret on Friday nights this is where white women go who have jungle fever to pick up their black stud's who go there in droves

TruDat
TruDat

When idiots call racism about things they know nothing about ( just as many suburban white kids wear baggy pants and ball caps ) it does nothing but diminish real racism. 

SlackerInc
SlackerInc

1. This bar's policy is outrageous and obviously racist. If it were just a rule against "sagging" I would support it, but this is a very specific list of "every way black people might dress" and we have heard testimony that it is not applied in a color-blind way in any case.

2. It's refreshing that the City Pages calls it out for what it is.

3. OTOH it is alarming and dispiriting to read the comments. Why are those who see this as racist so vastly outnumbered, most presumably being Twin Cities residents, reading a progressive alt-weekly? Gross.

Stupiddresscodes
Stupiddresscodes

This is why clubs and bars in the Twin cities do not thrive because of these ridiculous dress code i.e. flat brimmed hats? Seriously who gives 2 shits about it.   The main thing is to create a safe environment for paying patrons not to worry about what they are wearing.

Dino Brusco
Dino Brusco

i think it's all the folks moving into the cities from farming towns... never used to be like this a decade ago...

Jeremy Dowd
Jeremy Dowd

No, its not racist, just poorly executed.

Alberto Super
Alberto Super

This is not about race... let this stupid shit go already.

Jason Kiefer
Jason Kiefer

And if it IS racist then i guess the W, the capital grill, mortons, Ruth chris steak house, etc are all racists too.

Jason Kiefer
Jason Kiefer

No, when ANYONE wears this style it's stupid and douchey. It just looks WAY dumber on white boys.

Samantha Ann
Samantha Ann

I was using air quotes, as in, it was the general idea from others which essentially said business's are people too! but sure let's use real quotes, since you seem to be looking for that? "is it not the right of a PRIVATE business to instill rules as they see fit?" "A business has the right to admit whom it wants" " Bar Louie has the right to restrict their customers" While the dress code is not outright racism, there is no sign on the door saying "whites only". However, it's all a contradiction. Bar Louie is not a classy bar, it's never been a high class, black and white attire, that's what the downtown clubs are about. Bar Louis is just another version of a dive bar in uptown. Clearly there is something else going on with the bar if they feel they need to publicly announce the change of the dress code.

Nate McLemore Raczkowski
Nate McLemore Raczkowski

I didn't realize there were so many closeted (maybe not so much on the internet) racists in this city. Wow.

Vienna Wilson-Robinson
Vienna Wilson-Robinson

Thank you Nate. You hit it right in the nose. If I were to go to Bar Louie, which I wouldn't because YUCK; I would be much more worried about being trampled or having my ass grabbed by a group of drunk stumbling hollering hooting half vomiting frat boys just leaving a Twins game then I would being shot at by some "thug" or "gangbanger". But there isn't a dress code preventing the first group from creating a ruckus, though.

Rich Bennett
Rich Bennett

I have seen more than enough white guys, Latinos, natives, and Asians wearing the same things to agree with the racism aspect of this. Not to mention, they aren't the first,or, only place with this dress code.

Steve Woodward
Steve Woodward

The city pages is full of shit. I'm sorry to say I enjoy reading this liberal rag but the dress code is not racist. They must be racist because they are saying only non white people dress this way. Shame on you

Vienna Wilson-Robinson
Vienna Wilson-Robinson

HERE IS THE ISSUE: When you use the words "thug", "gangbanger", "gangster", "ghetto", "hoodlum", etc.; it usually is being referred to someone who is a minority. However, when someone who is white is dressing this way, the words in these comments to describe them are "douchebag", "retard", and "Justin Bieber". While all of these descriptions are insulting, only the first set of descriptions seem threatening or scary. That is the problem. While the dress code itself may not be racist, the rules are then left to the bouncers who frequently make it racist. This is why more often than you may realize, people of color, are rejected from entering bars and clubs for dressing in baggy pants and gold chains, while white people are let in dressing the same way minutes later. They may be violating the dress codes, but the bouncers working eye them up, and assume that they are harmless and won't shoot the place up, while a person of color might. I say this from PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. I myself, do not dress in flat billed caps or baggy clothing; but I have many friends who are college students, teachers, well educated, clean records, well paying jobs, who are black, who dress in that style outside of work because of the deep roots it holds in our culture. I have watched them be turned away, stood to the side of the establishment discussing where else we could go for drinks, and watched white people dressed in the exact same style be let in. I have watched my black friends offer to go home, and change into their work attire, which would be dress pants and shoes and button down shirts, and the bouncers tell them "It doesn't matter, you still can't come in." I have been with friends who are of a variety if races, who are almost all dressing in baggy clothing, and only the black friend is stopped and told that they can't go in. Of course at that point, none of us go in. THIS. HAPPENS. A. LOT. Is the dress code racist? It can be. It all depends on who is working the door. I think one of the main reasons why this bar in particular is getting so much attention is because a lot of minorities have stopped going into bars downtown so that they don't have to deal with these dress code issues and they also want a safe and clean place to wine and dine, and with the current gentrification of Uptown Minneapolis this seems as though it is just the start of yet another neighborhood where we are not welcome. Some may argue that this is about class and not race. I agree, I think that the orders handed down from Bar Louie corporate were referring to people of a certain class. But the thing is, class and race end up being very closely connected after awhile in this city. One of the big things that keeps racism alive is that no one is listening to each other. It is important for people of all cultures and ethnicities to be able to have an educational and healthy discussion about race and racism. I urge all of you to just open your mind, and listen a little bit to people who have to deal with subtle and sometimes not so subtle racism on an everyday basis. WHITE PEOPLE ARE NOT UNDER ATTACK.

Vienna Wilson-Robinson
Vienna Wilson-Robinson

HERE IS THE ISSUE: When you use the words "thug", "gangbanger", "gangster", "ghetto", "hoodlum", etc.; it usually is being referred to someone who is a minority. However, when someone who is white is dressing this way, the words in these comments to describe them are "douchebag", "retard", and "Justin Bieber". While all of these descriptions are insulting, only the first set of descriptions seem threatening or scary. That is the problem. While the dress code itself may not be racist, the rules are then left to the bouncers who frequently make it racist. This is why more often than you may realize, people of color, are rejected from entering bars and clubs for dressing in baggy pants and gold chains, while white people are let in dressing the same way minutes later. They may be violating the dress codes, but the bouncers working eye them up, and assume that they are harmless and won't shoot the place up, while a person of color might. I say this from PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. I myself, do not dress in flat billed caps or baggy clothing; but I have many friends who are college students, teachers, well educated, clean records, well paying jobs, who are black, who dress in that style outside of work because of the deep roots it holds in our culture. I have watched them be turned away, stood to the side of the establishment discussing where else we could go for drinks, and watched white people dressed in the exact same style be let in. I have watched my black friends offer to go home, and change into their work attire, which would be dress pants and shoes and button down shirts, and the bouncers tell them "It doesn't matter, you still can't come in." I have been with friends who are of a variety if races, who are almost all dressing in baggy clothing, and only the black friend is stopped and told that they can't go in. Of course at that point, none of us go in. THIS. HAPPENS. A. LOT. So to answer your question Kim, "Are all of the clubs and bars in downtown Minneapolis racist?" Yes, they can be. It all depends on who is working the door. One of the big things that keeps racism alive is that no one is listening to each other. It is important for people of all cultures and ethnicities to be able to have an educational and healthy discussion about race and racism. I urge all of you to just open your mind, and listen a little bit to people who have to deal with subtle and sometimes not so subtle racism on an everyday basis. WHITE PEOPLE ARE NOT UNDER ATTACK.

Michelle Servais
Michelle Servais

Guess I can't wear my chunk chain necklace that all the celebrities are wearing this season. (I almost spelled chink by accident).

Michelle Servais
Michelle Servais

Chunk chains are in style right now. Racist against celebrity fashion.

Sara Schieve
Sara Schieve

If you don't want the hip-hop croud in your establishment just play some Slayer. It also keeps the dirty hippies out.

Kim Connell
Kim Connell

Literally no one said what you just quoted.

Samantha Ann
Samantha Ann

I like how people are arguing that "business's are people too!" If Bar Louie actually cared about a dress code, they would give suggestions of what to wear for men and women, you know, to set the standards of the bar.

Jason Kiefer
Jason Kiefer

It's their bar. They should have the right to refuse service to anyone they please.

textonly
textonly

As far as I can tell they have written these rules specifically to ban Vanilla Ice from the bar.

industrialmonk
industrialmonk

And for those who say that that style of dress is considered "Black Culture" my response to you would be "How is that in itself, not racist?" Saying a certain demographic dresses a certain way is small minded and short sighted. It's like saying button-ups are apart of "White Culture" because so many white people wear them....

   The comments made on this site accuse the restaurant of calling the "Black Culture" style of dress (sagging pants, chains, large white t-shirts) thug-like and thus less classy. 

Let's get this straight....Thugs DO wear this style of dress....but it doesn't mean that "Black Culture" (whatever that is) are just thugs. Some white people dress in white does that mean they are apart of the KKK? Some Asian people wear black does that mean they are ninjas? A black man (or woman) wears a jersey does that mean they are thugs? 

It's the comments on this website that is making Bar Louie look bad..not the dress code itself. If you wouldn't wear it at a formal social gathering then don't wear it at Bar Louie. That simple.

 Let's get our focus back to things that really matter....like how about our failing education system, starving children in other countries or just about anything else that's less trivial than this.

industrialmonk
industrialmonk

...technically...assuming all black people dress a certain way and blaming Bar Louie for banning that style is racist. Who said black people were banned? They want to be a higher class place and showing your boxers/underwear is usually not acceptable no matter what race or sex you are. 
Don't you think its ironic that they are spewing how racist it is against blacks when no one said anything about them as a people being banned?

Nick Hook
Nick Hook

Racist dress code or not, bar louie seems like a lame-as-fuck place frequented solely by Uptown's current douche infestation.

Kim Connell
Kim Connell

The world is against everyone who isn't white and male!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Quick, we better leave this planet before they thing we are racist and sexist too!!!!!!!!!!!

Annette Price
Annette Price

Jimmy Kovac: I would label the interview process as being an extension of our white-dominated culture, and that culture is, at its core, quite racist -- and sexist too. Here are some other racist and sexist features of that culture, w/r/t interviews and what it takes to be viewed as professional and competent in one: - black women often have to straighten their hair (that is, emulate white hair) -- racist - black women often cannot wear "ethnic" hairstyles, even though the resulting look is tidy and well-groomed -- racist - women often have to wear makeup to be taken seriously (that is, play up their sexual attractiveness, even though most jobs rarely have ties to sex or sexuality) -- sexist - women often have to wear heels to be considered put together (same thing as makeup and sexual appeal) -- sexist - non-black women with curly or kinky hair often have to straighten it, or put it up in a bun (women with straight hair look professional whether their hair is up or down, loose or pulled back) -- racist I, from personal experience, have more of a sense of what women of different ethnicities face in these situations. I'm sure black men and men of other racial backgrounds would have some things to add to this list based on their own experiences. The upshot is: however you stray from the white norm, you must check that and correct it. And if you are a woman, you'd better play up your a sexual appeal in subtle ways. Just because you, Jimmy, cannot see racism (or sexism) in your experiences day-to-day does not mean others are not experiencing it.

TwinCities Treasures
TwinCities Treasures

I wear flat billed hats and I'm a presentable well respected business man thrpught the cities........On that note, I'm not welcome ? Fucc off

Felicia Jenkins
Felicia Jenkins

These comments are hilarious. lol Racism is alive and well.

Jay Swenson
Jay Swenson

I totally think that this is fine. It is racist to make the claim that sagging pants is a part of black culture. I know plenty of black people that would say that pant sagging is a STUPID look that is disrespectful to everyone that has to look at underwear (or eorse, someone's bare asscrack, which I also have seen. There is no such thing as Black culture, and to insinuate that there is shows that we're still a racist country that is way too concerned with political correctness. Rather, there is an urban culture tat is represented by many different races ( I.e. There are many mexican, white and black people who sag their pants these days.) A business has a right to have a dress code and even condemn pant sagging without someone insinuating they are racist.

Meg Nathan
Meg Nathan

Discriminating used to be a compliment, as in "discriminating taste". It's only in recent years that the term has developed such negative connotations. Time to go back to the original, non-stereotypical, meaning, I think.

GhettoSuperStarz
GhettoSuperStarz

I don't think the dress code is racist at all - and to suggest it is, is just mongering for attention.  There are plenty of places that accept people who dress like thugs, are thugs or part of the street culture where dressing as described is more acceptable.  If you don't like the dress code, don't go.

Daemon Williams
Daemon Williams

So if you are pissed about their dress code, just look up their sanitation record in Chicago. Cockroach HEAVEN!!!

Noel Barrick
Noel Barrick

Guess what. I got into Bar Louie with a white t-shirt on, but wasnt allowed into drink because of my white t-shirt. My friend (also white) was not allowed into Bar Louie because of gym shorts, but was allowed into Drink. I have a pic of us, and would share it, but you dont allow posts to your wall. Point number one. Dress codes are a joke. Point number two, where is the outrage at Drink for having the same dress code??

Taylor Lauren Peterson
Taylor Lauren Peterson

People are acting like this is the first bar to have a dress code in MPLS, Bar Fly has been doing this far before Bar Louie, but no one made a big deal about that?!

Taylor Lauren Peterson
Taylor Lauren Peterson

They are an upscale bar.. people should be dressing appropriate in the first place and if they need to have a dress code then so be it.. I know plenty of white people that wear the same attire, but not when going to Bar Louie even before the dress code was put in place.

solve004
solve004

And we have the right to criticize them for it.

TheOtherObama
TheOtherObama

If you don't like it, don't take offense, go somewhere else, or just take off the hat.  I had to admit, if you are wearinga hat to a place with this dress code, you are a moron.

elsejohnski
elsejohnski

Did you really state that there's no such thing as black culture? I tend to fall on the more conservative side of this issue, but that statement is just plain oblivious and disrespectful.

TheOtherObama
TheOtherObama

I believe the black community states that there is black culture. 

solve004
solve004

Moral of the story is, you pick horrible venues.

kevinchavis
kevinchavis

...because if we separate ourselves by race, class, sexual orientation etc. that will solve our problems. I wholeheartedly disagree with you and state the exact opposite. Our society is in a mess precisely because people allow these divisions to persist. 

jgys
jgys

Bar Louie is upscale? Seriously?

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