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July 17, 2007 2:43 PM   Subscribe

How do I get over my fear that I'm not going to be let into clubs/discos because I'm black?

I've been to discotheques perhaps 70 times in my life. Of those 70 times, I've been bounced/rejected about 15 times. Of those 15 times, perhaps 4 or 3 of them where clearly because of my race - usually something to the effect of : "We have a 10% black quota, next time come earlier" or the "you don't belong to our target group", or where for unexplained reasons all non-white people are just getting filtered out.

Statistically, this does not happen often compared to the number of times I've been to clubs. And frankly, I can understand that clubs want to target certain groups, I've got nothing against that.

The problem is just that now, when I'm going to ANY club, even the ones that don't usually do race based selection, I get very nervous that I'll be rejected again. It's a very frustrating experience, and it's obviously something I'm powerless to change - it's not like dressing bad or just being some totally uncool guy; those can both be changed.

So I'm completely hung up about most clubs and when I want to go out now, if I'm not with a bunch of girls, I tend to go to a club that is definately just blacks, as I know that I won't get rejected for this reason.

What I would like is to just not care. I want to be thick skinned and be able to brush off the rejection and not let it affect my future clubbing experience. I want it that each time I go out, I go out without fear of the doormen and bouncers, and just go out to have fun. How I make myself that way?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I think you need to get specific about what's really bothering you about this. You're clearly feeling something more than just (justifiable) anger.

You could use the general method from Feeling Good:

1) Identify the upsetting event e.g. getting rejected by a nightclub.

2) Characterize how this event makes you feel, attaching a number to each distinct emotion e.g. anxious 80%, ashamed 50% etc.

3) List the upsetting thoughts that accompany this emotion, along with numbers that reflect how strongly you believe them e.g. "I'm letting my friends down - 50%".

4) Identify cognitive distortions in your thoughts - are you overgeneralizing, filtering out positive things, imagining you can predict the future, using emotional reasoning "I feel this so it must be true", etc.

5) Write down new thoughts that are designed to challenge the distortions in your previous thoughts. Again, write numbers for how strongly you believe these new thoughts

6) Now go back and write new numbers for your old thoughts if you find that you now believe in them less as will usually be the case

7) Go back and look at your negative feelings again. You will hopefully feel that they have now been lessened, and you can again write new numbers.

This is a pretty tedious method, but it's a nicely structured and reasonably thorough way of working through a troubling feeling. It's much better than trying to do everything in your head. If you're serious about doing this it would obviously be a good idea to read the book.

(Obviously the fact that this is happening at all is wrong, but the poster just wants to be able to go out without fear, and that's what I've responded to).
posted by teleskiving at 3:03 PM on July 17, 2007 [8 favorites]

I wouldn't shrug it off. I would never go back to those clubs again. Don't give them your money. And tell all your friends that they wouldn't let you in.

Shop around. Plenty of clubs have a more sensible door policy. After you eliminate the idiots from your life, you won't need to give them a second thought.
posted by dydecker at 3:13 PM on July 17, 2007

Turning you away for being black = frustrating and kind of a dick move, policy-wise. But also not the norm, as you mention.

Think of other workaday things that fit that description. Do they keep you from participating in said activity? Examples:

* Getting cut off in traffic, forcing YOU to swerve/brake to avoid an accident
* Someone in your group getting their meal wayyy late because someone screwed up and forgot to do their order
* Not getting a drink for last call because you can't get the bartender's attention
* Parking tickets
* Concert gets sold out before you get a chance to buy a ticket
* Almost any imaginable reason you would have to call any kind of customer service

You see where I'm going with this. The potential for frustration and even embarrassing frustration lurks everywhere, but we all internalize and accept most of those risks. Add this one to the list.

And if it happens again, just put it down to jerk-off club policies sucking and move on to the next thing.
posted by desuetude at 3:17 PM on July 17, 2007

Maybe I'm naive, as I don't go out clubbing (I'm also white so I don't experience racial discrimination), but the responses here surprise me - why the hell would anyone take this lying down? The US Department of Justice sued a Milwaukee nightclub for exactly what you're talking about.
posted by desjardins at 3:24 PM on July 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

You're not going to be able to "brush it off", since it's a direct affront to you. But you can recognize that this is not a personal affront, but a categorical one. In other words, you should get pissed for being profiled into a stereotype, but not for being deemed individually "not good enough". Obviously it's crap either way, but I find it helpful to distinguish between someone being an ass to me and someone being an ass to my type - which could be race, gender, age, clothing style, whatever.

I think the proper response is to regard that person in the same fashion - just another ass who judges people by vague stereotypes, so I can dismiss their judgment on a personal level. This doesn't fix anything, but it helps prevent me from worrying over it or seeing myself from a limited and depersonalizing perspective.
posted by lubujackson at 3:55 PM on July 17, 2007

Can I give you some pragmatic advice? I realize that racial discrimination is worse than just not having the right "appearance" (race is a much more integral part of your identity than the current fashion trend). But beyond general advice to avoid places that would discriminate in such a way, it is not hard at all to avoid the situation you are in.

(1) Call up the paticular club early in the week and make reservations. This is important, it usually costs in a flat fee which is high until you divide it up amongst the group -- and it actually appears manageable. Make sure you ask about attire. Again, a rather mom move to pull, but saves any headaches.

(2) If the group wants to move from one club to another call them up when you're at your first place. Again, places love when they know they can charge $200 at least for a group, rather than pick some asshole (Chad/Trixie or Bridge & Tunnel depending on out of line.

I don't like clubbing, but that's the advice I use and it works every time. You'd be surprised where you can get in and how much more fun it is to spend time on your friends than obsessing about the scene.
posted by geoff. at 4:14 PM on July 17, 2007

desuetude, there's a world of difference between the randomly annoying happenstances you list and being singled out for shitty behavior because you're black.
posted by mkultra at 4:39 PM on July 17, 2007

it's obviously something I'm powerless to change

That's the real issue here: you're afraid of being publicly rejected (aka humiliated) for something that is outside of your control, and that is part of who you are (versus a bad choice in shoes that day.)

Kind of hard to be thick-skinned in such a circumstance, and good on you for not being (justifiably) angrier than you are. Nevertheless, geoff has provided good advice for reducing the risk, and you should probably frequent a subset of your town's clubs so that you know which ones you're more likely to get into.
posted by davejay at 4:40 PM on July 17, 2007

It is illegal and it might make you feel better to call the DOJ/local U.S. attorney to make a complaint.
posted by bananafish at 5:13 PM on July 17, 2007

I would get over it by getting extremely pissed off, then suing, protesting, bitching, stomping and doing whatever else you're able and willing to do to get these people to stop their completely appalling behavior.

You're not upset because you're being irrational, oversensitive, on thin-skinned. That's exactly what a racist society would like you to believe -- that it's your fault for not being able to brush it off rather than their fault for being bigoted assholes. If you buy into that, then you'll meekly let them treat you however they want without making a scene.

Fuck that shit. Get mad. This is totally unacceptable behavior.
posted by occhiblu at 5:22 PM on July 17, 2007

I agree with occhiblu. This isn't exactly a situation where you're compelled to "grow a thicker skin" in order to, say, protect your family or advance your career. It's a freakin' dance club. Get mad, stand up for yourself, and try to make a difference.
posted by rxrfrx at 5:33 PM on July 17, 2007

I agree with occhiblu. Not letting you in because you are black is extremely illegal in this country; that's the kind of shit for which it's worth getting out the metaphorical sword and charging into battle. You're hurt because you're being wronged.

Now, you may not want to fight about this; it may not be worth it to you. Whatever you decide to do, though, remember that what you're feeling is entirely reasonable, and that you'd be perfectly justified in going balls-to-the-wall to fight back if you chose. That's not just appalling behavior; it's illegal.

To more directly answer your actual question: rejection hurts, and I've never found a way to make it not hurt, myself. Going through it a lot might help desensitize you a little, but personally, I can't imagine it ever not being painful.
posted by Malor at 5:40 PM on July 17, 2007

What works for me is to sit down and think about the way I've been discriminated, and realize what that means to me. I think about my nature and how my race or other attributes are inextricably (and unchangably) linked to my identity. I also force myself to realize how my race/ethnicity has been so linked with my perceptions of the world, and how it has indirectly or directly shaped me towards who I am now.

In short, I convince myself that my race/ethnicity/skin color is inseparably part of who I am, and that I have every right to have the ability to carry these attributes around with me without embarrassment. If any people refuse service to me, or are wary of me, or treat me with marked distance because of my race, I realize that these people don't understand, that these people have not had the chance to think about their identities as I have -- that introspection and concerns about racial identity that accompanies the status of a 'minority' perhaps just never happened to them.

And in being treated differently, I acknowledge that this is not my problem, but theirs -- their inability to grasp these concepts, to understand what I think about all the time, and that ultimately I would rather have the chance and ability to think about these things and to understand and to talk about them between people who understand, rather than to have the ability to get into one single shitty dance club.
posted by suedehead at 5:43 PM on July 17, 2007

(I don't mean to say that said introspection and thoughtfulness, and an awareness about racial identity can only gained through by being a minority. Education and experience, etc. can do this as well.)
posted by suedehead at 5:52 PM on July 17, 2007

Take notes and take names. Ask the guy at the door for his name, and if he won't give it (he probably won't) you can make note of what he looks like. Sometimes this will make them rethink their position.
posted by megatherium at 5:57 PM on July 17, 2007

I bet you feel a lot better after posting this question. Writing out concerns helps me out, especially to the mefi community.
posted by paulinsanjuan at 6:58 PM on July 17, 2007

in california where i used to practice law, what you describe would be a violation of the unruh civil rights act, section 51 of the civil code. don't get mad, get even and make some money. find yourself a bright young civil rights lawyer and separate them from as much of their money as you can.
posted by bruce at 7:17 PM on July 17, 2007

I do exactly what teleskiving does and it works wonders.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:18 PM on July 17, 2007

Good lord! I am astounded that you encounter this attitude; I thought this had disappeared half a century ago. Are you in fact in the USA? It sounds more like South Africa. I would get the bouncers' names, and do whatever you can to broadcast the fact that such-and-such a club is racist - letters to editors, bulletin boards, networking sites, etc.
posted by fish tick at 8:34 PM on July 17, 2007

Where the fuck do you live? You should be getting places like that shut down, or people bouncing you because you're black fired. That's the best way to overcome your fear. It's 2007. Damn.
posted by chunking express at 8:55 PM on July 17, 2007

I'm white, but sort of portly and balding with poor fashion sense, and I used to worry about not getting into clubs too.

Then I discovered that 99+% of clubs will let you in if you slip the bouncer $100. (Most clubs it only takes $20.) I bet this would work no matter how black you are. Even if the guy says "you're not part of the target group," you can slap old big Ben into his hand and say "Does this get me a little closer to the target?"

Try it a couple times. Then, the next time you get rejected, instead of thinking "I got rejected because I'm black," you can think "I got rejected because I didn't choose to slip the guy a hundy."

I find that thinking of myself as a miserly tightwad is marginally better than thinking of myself as a portly, balding fashion victim.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:38 AM on July 18, 2007

Have the bouncers recognise you and be on your side.
This can actually happen pretty quickly.

- Turn up at the same club several times. They're pretty good at remembering returning/regular faces.
- At the door/ID/cover fee, be friendly (duh :-) Smile. Eye contact. Say something.
- Be dressed nicely. (If possible, this means not merely presentable, but the kind of presentation they wish more of their patrons bothered with. Good looking people in the club makes the club desirable to more people (and to more desirable people) which results in better business. Make yourself an asset :-)
- Once inside, behave well, be friendly to the crowd, don't make a mess or extra work for the staff.
- Tip for your drinks.

Build a collection of clubs where the security guys know you. Add to those your collection of black-orientated clubs, and you should be good for any night, any style.

The only disadvantage is that in order to do this, you might have to go clubbing frequently. Wait... did I say disadvantage? What I meant to say is that this approach has no downside. ;-)

Also - if you have a date and you're going out clubbing together, go to a club where they know you - if you're queuing in the line to get in, and the security guy comes out down the line to find you, pulls you out of the line (hold her hand so She's With You) and walks you both down the line and into the club ahead of everyone else, she feels on top of the world and you get major style points :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 3:32 AM on July 18, 2007

mulktra, I know that. But one can't walk around foaming-at-the-mouth pissed off all the time.

I suggested it as a tactic for dealing with the situation, particularly since anonymous "can understand that clubs want to target certain groups, I've got nothing against that." I didn't mean the situations were equivalent.
posted by desuetude at 6:45 AM on July 18, 2007

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