by Chris Bodenner

A reader writes:

In this post, you end by asking a question that seems like it obviously would never happen: "What if a club owner wanted to attract more white patrons by offering them a special discount."

However, something like this happens all the time at night clubs and bars, though it is typically less overt.  Many establishments enforce policies against certain racial groups through use of a selective dress code. I once tended bar at an upscale nightclub in the South that had a dress code that stated: "No sports jerseys, Timberland boots, baggy jeans, do rags, baseball hats, gym shoes, or sleeveless shirts."  Now, this was clearly a racial dress code.  Every weekend I would see plenty of white and Asian men in the bar wearing fashionable Nikes and occasionally sleeveless shirts or undershirts on really hot nights.  Any black man who came to the club had to be on his best behavior and wear his most conservative and expensive outfit.  This double standard basically told black people that as long as they could "act white" they were welcome in the club.  White men who "dressed black" were also welcome as long as they could afford the cover charge.

Also, I used my own form of variable pricing, usually offering discounts to friends, regular customers, VIPs, and hot chicks who flirted with me.  (Hey, I was in my early 20s then.)  This was not only tolerated by my managers, but typically encouraged in the case of VIPs and regulars. Also, in many rougher neighborhoods, some of the local bars will raise the age to enter to 25 or even 30.  I understand the rationale behind this is to keep young trouble makers out of the bar, but it still is a form of age discrimination.  Where I live now in DC, many clubs have variations of "Grown and Sexy" nights where they don't let in anybody under 30 or 35 or 40, depending on the bar.  I guess the point I am trying to make is that Ladies Night is not a uniquely discriminatory practice in the night club/bar industry.

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