Conversations With Myself The 'Trendy' Bars Issue

A bar Urgh. My head is banging.

Late night last night?

Couple of bars down town, club afterwards. You?

Few jars down the Red Lion for me mate.

Not a party animal eh? Getting old eh?

Well if you define 23 as being old than that's entirely up to you, but to be honest I'd much rather have a nice pub, a friendly pint and a chance to chat to people in a civilised environment any day. Sorry but loud, brash, expensive bars and clubs with ridiculously loud music, huge queues at the bar and prices where you can get two drinks and get little change out of a tenner, just don't hit me as being the best way to spend my Friday nights.

How about Saturdays?

How about I give you a punch in the gob?

Err... I'll decline that option if it's all the same to you.

Hey, what do I care?

But bars and clubs aren't that bad, surely?

Really? How about the entirely evil dress code?

What's wrong with making an effort when you go out?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with making an effort - and yes, if I went out wearing jeans and trainers, I wouldn't expect to get in many places. However the definition of 'Smart Casual' is completely meaningless, and it's implementation is entirely arbitrary, down completely to the door staff who can just turn people away on the basis that they don't like the colour of someone's shirt, or because they don't think a woman looks tarty enough to belong to their establishment, all without actually saying so, and just be heading behind the old 'Sorry - dress code' excuse.

Well there is that I suppose.

Exactly. And to be perfectly honest, I am not happy to conform to this 'image' that certain bouncers seem to think 'smart casual' represents. I am me - I look the way I do, and I refuse to conform to anyone else's 'standards' just to get in a bar and have a drink. If I have to pretend, and dress in a style that does not fit into the way that I am, then I don't want to give my money to that establishment.

You have to wonder how many men would get turned away just for wearing kilts.

Exactly. Many men wear kilts - who is to say though that a kilt isn't 'smart-casual'?

The bouncer?

Yes. And if the bouncer thinks men wearing kilts are nothing but 'wusses wearing skirts', they could stop someone from having a drink. It's entirely arbitrary decision based completely on what one person says is 'right'. And ultimately behind that decision could be any number of prejudices. A recent news report showed that bouncers in some areas were less likely to allow in
large groups of Asian lads, but then would let in shortly after a similar group of white lads. That's not to say that all bouncers are racist of course but shows the enormous power these people have, and ultimately that this power can be completely miss-used.

If you ain't got the look they're after...

Exactly. If your face don't fit, you're not coming in. You could be the nicest person in the world, but just not fit into someone else's predefined image of the way you should look, and be refused entry. However you could be a complete moronic trouble maker, but be wearing the 'correct' pastel coloured shirt made by Ben Sherman, and you could get in. And hey, may be even start a
fight and seriously injure someone. Of course, you could be a very nice person in a Ben Sherman shirt too... 'The look' doesn't define who you are, what you are like - whether once inside you'll be nice and pleasant, or if you'll be a lecherous idiot, harassing women who aren't interested.

I guess women don't have it easy sometimes...

Quite, and that's even if they can get in in the first place. Bouncers in many places are notoriously good at turning away 20 year old women, but letting in 14 year old teenagers.


Generally it all boils down to make-up. Bouncers, for some unknown reason, have this belief that any woman caked in the confounded stuff is obviously over 18, while others obviously aren't. Of course, this is a completely absurd deduction, but one that never enters into their blatantly small brains. Some women don't wear make-up at all. And of course, any teenage girl knows that all
they need to do to make themselves look 'older', is to slap a bit of foundation and lipstick on. And yet the door staff seem to have difficulty recognising that people don't suddenly start wearing make-up when they are 18, and that anyone not wearing the stuff is obviously younger than that.

Yeah, but when you finally get in, you have a good time, surely?

Sometimes. However sometimes the music is that loud, the place that hot and the number of seats woefully inadequate that sometimes I don't.

There are some nice bars out there - you have to know where to look. The best ones are some of the Wetherspoon branches in London, where they're cheap, easy to get into, and yet are seriously funky and totally un-pubby. But ultimately, for me, you can't beat a nice pub, with plenty of seating, where you can actually sit down, talk to people and have a laugh. Call me funny, but I prefer conversation and comfort to battling out with ignorant bouncers and pretending to be something I'm not.

You know what you like, and you're sticking to it?


Background Information

Well if you can't guess what this was inspired by, there's no hope!

As I recall, it was Christmas 2000 and I'd gone out with some old friends in Manchester. Having had a suitcase (obviously) full of presents, I hadn't taken an assortment of coats with me - just taking a slightly battered (and slightly tasteless) beige fleece. Whilst not exactly the height of fashion, a good warm device for the cold winter night.

We were catching up with friends who were already in there, and were half way through the door when all of a sudden one of the bouncers took exception to my fleece...

Funnily enough business was taken elsewhere. However the "dress code" has always struck me as a frankly absurd notion. You can go around kicking peoples heads in, but as long as you've got a Ben Sherman shirt on, that's fine... As it happened, as we moved around later that evening, my coat caused not one problem...

Incidentally, most of the Wetherspoons in London that were mentioned in this article, now have a tendency to look frankly shabby and crap. But there you go.

This was first published on Planet Bods on 28 January 2001.


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