From ‘Ladies Night Dress Code’, 28 June 2011, Voices, Today
(Shalini Jayaraj and Jerrie Tan Qiu Lin): MY FRIENDS and I regularly patronise dblO, a nightclub, on Wednesdays as women get complimentary entry because of Ladies Night. This practice is longstanding among most nightclubs. My friends and I have never had problems getting in.
However, on June 15, an extremely rude bouncer denied a friend entry, citing an alleged “dress code” that women must follow in order to obtain free entry. Apparently, my friend was not dressed in a sufficiently “feminine” manner. As this was the first time we had encountered such a refusal, my friends and I protested and asked to speak to the manager. First, such a “dress code” was never publicised nor represented to us.
Second, this “non-femininely dressed” friend never had problems getting into dblO in the past. Granted, she does not dress in a “feminine” manner but is most obviously a female. The manager claimed this “dress code” had been the club’s practice since it opened. Recognising the futility of challenging the code’s existence, we enquired how we could modify my friend’s outfit so as to meet the requisite standard. The manager was contradictory in what he considered “sufficiently feminine”.
First, he advised my friend to head home to change into a dress before coming back. Upon our pointing out of several women who were dressed in a similar fashion as my friend, and yet let in free, the manager said they were allowed in because they wore make-up. But even after my friends and I asked if she could be let in upon applying cosmetics, the manager was reluctant.
I suggest that the management at dblO be more transparent about this “dress code” requirement for Ladies Night. While I do not want to question the management’s reasoning behind the requirement, it would certainly be fairer to the public if such a “dress code” were plainly set out. Only then will my friends and I have the option of deciding whether to adhere to the required theme or head to another nightclub – especially when the alternative to complimentary entry is a payment labelled on the signboard as being the cover charge for “males”.
This ‘dress code’ is nothing more than a formality substituting for what’s basically a subjective, inevitably sexist assessment of how ‘ladylike’ a patron is, which varies from bouncer to bouncer. A tomboyish celebrity would be granted entry even if she were in sneakers and a T-shirt, and such biasness is an inevitable catch of Ladies’ Night, an event with long established discriminatory practices; demanding that girls wear lipstick, are not handicapped, and that they must be entirely female. Some clubs like Overeasy even match the number of free drinks you get with your brasize. As a business and with a reputation to maintain, clubs have every right to be discerning in its clientele, otherwise bouncers would be plying their trade as professional gymrats or PE teachers (They’re too bulky to be football players, not big enough to be sumo wrestlers). But it’s an unfortunate fact that if you’re not hip, physically appealing or dressed to kill, as compared to the rest of the socialites savvy with the ‘unspoken rules’ and spent the last 2 hours dolling up, you will be the brunt of euphemistic excuses when the truth is something no girl ever wants to hear, that no amount of make-up will ever earn you that right to a free drink.
It seems that ladies night is more discriminating towards its own sex than paying males, despite what some ads tell you about how ‘discrimination works’ to a lady’s advantage. It’s all part of that exclusivity mythos that distinguishes boutique clubs from your run-of-the-mill pubs, and as maddeningly condescending as it is to put on make up just because a bouncer says so, it’s worth nothing that we men do things we’re not exactly proud of to gain acceptance into social circles all the time, whether it’s wearing a tie, wearing shiny shoes, or shaving every morning. Of course, if you’re a fiercely independent woman who doesn’t need anyone to tell you what to do or clubs patronising your sex with freebies, you can exercise free will, hit another joint, and tweet about your humiliating experience so no one will ever step into DblO again, since that is the risk clubs are willing to take rejecting women who don’t fit their ‘client profile’. Double O was more blunt in its reason for rejection back in 2005 (See below, ‘Female, but not welcome at a Ladies’ Night’, 4 Nov 2005, Voices, Today), whereby a ‘butch’ was turned away. Hence the politically correct but ambiguous ‘dress code’ 6 years later. Perhaps some definition of what clubs mean by ‘Lady’ is in order, since we’ve been using ‘lady’ far too loosely in daily conversation when we really mean ‘woman’ most of the time. The terminology may have changed, but everything else about Double O’s Ladies Night that makes it still successful, however you want to label it a winning, sexist ‘anti-butch’ formula, hasn’t changed one bit.