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Proposed Legislation Rips Dress Codes at Nightclubs
Iowa nightclubs wouldn’t be able to bar admittance to patrons based on what brand of clothing they wear if a bill proposed by Rep. Wayne Ford (D-Des Moines) becomes law.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said frequent club-goer Billy Gowdy of Des Moines. “They should do something about that. I’ve had that happen to friends of mine.”
House File 221 takes aim at the club dress code policies that some African-Africans in Des Moines — particularly men — have long complained about. Many blacks have complained that the brand names and styles of clothing they favor have been used to keep them out of clubs in West Des Moines, a mostly white suburb of the city where many popular nightclubs are located.
“This legislation will keep bars and nightclubs and other public accommodation businesses from denying access to individuals wearing certain brands of clothing,” Ford said in a press release. “They know they cannot discriminate because you are black or Hispanic or Asian, so they now use a brand of clothing popular with minorities to keep people out.”
Ford mentioned that popular brands such as FUBU and Pelle Pelle have been singled out as a reason to keep patrons out of the nightclubs.
Bill Proctor, a Des Moines teacher who filed a complaint last year with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission about the dress code policies in some West Des Moines clubs, agrees. Proctor, who formerly co-owned the now defunct Karma Nightclub, said white customers would be admitted without problems, but when “a black guy walked up to the front the spotlight came on.”
Club employees would tell black patrons that their clothes were too baggy, shirts too long and they complained about patrons wearing brands like Nike, FUBU, Ecko, Roc-a-Wear, among others, he said.
“The clubs hide behind the dress code to keep minorities out of the clubs,” said Proctor who created a line of clothing called 515 DMI Wear.
The issue over dress codes in Des Moines has been a longstanding one. Charles Lovelady died on Feb. 16, 2000, after a conflict with bouncers at the now defunct Graffiti’s. Club workers said he violated a policy against hooded sweatshirts, but many blacks insisted it was because Lovelady was black.
The bill will be up for debate in the House of Representatives.