I attended a birthday party last Saturday night at Gypsy Bar. Had a blast once I got inside, but something rather
curious occurred at the door.
I was with two people, and one was wearing black Puma sneakers. At the door, he was turned away because of his shoes. We tried to reason with the doorman, but apparently my friend’s denial of entry came directly from the manager on-duty that night, who was standing inside at a window monitoring everyone in line. Okay, changing shoes is kind of a pain in the ass, but understandable considering Gypsy Bar’s no sneaker policy. I didn't think anything of it until I saw the doormen letting in many other sneaker-wearing men. Four, maybe even five. When I pointed it out, the doorman got scarily irate out of nowhere, like I was questioning his authority. Calm down dude, we’re talking about shoes.
We finally got into Gypsy Bar after taking a $20 cab ride home and back again. When we met up with the birthday girl, she told me that her boyfriend was also turned away at the door for wearing sneakers. His buddy, standing right next to him and sporting ever-classy Nike Shocks, was permitted entry.
What distinguished the two turned away from the others? Both were very clearly Middle Eastern—one Israeli (with a thick accent), one Persian (with no accent but sporting his signature curly beard). All the men let in were white.
I’m wondering if it’s Gypsy Bar’s standard policy to decide whether or not to implement the dress code policy based on the race of the offender.
For instance, the dress code also bars hat-wearing. As it turns out, the second person I was with at the door (my boyfriend, who is white) was wearing a fashionable cap on his head. He was not asked to remove it and was let in, no problem.
I’ve gotten in touch with Gypsy Bar’s PR manager. Let’s see if she has anything to say about it.
But in the meantime, I’d like to know if you’ve ever encountered this sort of racial profiling at Gypsy Bar, or any other bars and clubs in Boston. Do you think it’s justifiable? Do you think it even is racial profiling, or just coincidence?
Funny, right at the moment I posted this blog I received an email from Kevin Troy, the owner of Gypsy Bar (see below). It's a heartfelt and well-written explanation/apology, but I don't know, I'm still left feeling a bit uncomfortable about the place...
As the owner of Gypsy Bar I wanted to reply directly to your complaint. I
can assure you that many people are turned away from our doors every
weekend, the majority of them are caucasian men and women.
In order to maintain the upscale environment we have worked so diligently to
create, we ask that our guests adhere to the dress codes we have put in
place. I am personally at the door and within the club many weekends making
sure our staff, inside and out, ask patrons to keep hats off or change out
of sneakers. These simple steps create a more refined environment than one
might find at a typical jeans and T-shirt bar elsewhere in the city.
If some people that were not up to our dress code standards did happen to
slip through I will most certainly speak to my staff as this is
unacceptable. We have always welcomed a very varied group of people into our
establishment, including many international residents.
I apologize if you feel you or your guests were slighted and I'm saddened
that you feel the need to broadcast this to your readers. I would never wish
the kind of experience you recounted on anyone, particularly at one of my
establishments. I hope you will see fit to join us again soon.
Thanks, Kevin Troy