A Sydney tattoo artist has called out popular Star Casino-owned nightclub Marquee for its discriminatory entry policies.

Tyson Lord Mayor told PEDESTRIAN.TV that he was trying to attend the afterparty of a friend’s wedding at the nightclub, when his brother was singled out for the egregious crime of having cornrows.

Marquee has a notoriously strict dress code, and many in the group trying to get in on Saturday night had a bunch of tattoos. Although their website says that tattoos only need to be covered if they’re “inappropriate or offensive“, Lord Mayor and his five friends chose to cover up out of respect for the door policy. They were also wearing suits, having come directly from a wedding. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough:

We rocked up to the line, and I said, “Is it all good if there’s only one girl with us,” and [the security guard] goes “Yeah that’s alright, except for that guy there with the cornrows.” I was like, “What’s wrong with the cornrows?” He goes, “Nah, can’t have people with cornrows come in.” I’m like, “That makes no sense, why’s that,” and he said, “The owner doesn’t want people with cornrows coming into the nightclub. Tattoos are fine, but cornrows you can’t come in.”

Lord Mayor also alleges that the security guard told the group that he’d “let people in with guns and knives” but he wouldn’t allow anyone wearing cornrows.

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Oh, did we mention that the club was hosting the afterparty for popular American R&B star Kehlani? Yeah, turns out Marquee is a regular venue on the R&B and hip-hop circuit, with recent appearances by Li’l Yachty, YG, Kid Ink, T-Pain, and even fucken’ Drake.

Exasperated, Lord Mayor told the seccy:

“You guys have black people coming into your nightclubs for their afterparties, you have African American dudes come in, and they have a culture of this type of hairstyle, and you’re not letting in someone like that?”

He goes, “I don’t make the rules,” and yeah, we just pissed off.

It’s not the first time Lord Mayor has been turned away from the club, even while attending in a work capacity, and the suspiciously flexible door policies are a point of contention among other punters as well.

Although Marquee’s Facebook page no longer displays reviews, several Google reviews indicate that security staff and management regularly employ racial profiling to deny entry or to kick punters out.

Just in case anyone was unclear on this, these practices are completely illegal: the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975 prohibits “discrimination on the basis of race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin” and applies to all areas of public life, including being allowed into venues.

Some might argue that wearing cornrows in itself is not a racial signifier, but Lord Mayor’s experiences indicate that a number of people in charge of letting partiers into clubs and bars are basing their decisions on race and prejudice rather than clear standards of appearance.

He says that he and his relatives have been turned away from Marquee and other Sydney venues with excuses ranging from “there’s too many guys” to “we’re at capacity” to “it’s just not your night“, only to see groups of white backpackers let in immediately afterwards.

At the heart of it, what Lord Mayor raised with the bouncer is what needs to be addressed: should venues continue to be allowed to profit off the cultural contributions of black and brown artists while denying black and brown people entry and access to those cultural products?

It seems not only like high-level (and illegal) dickishness, but also poor business strategy. Money’s money, regardless of hairstyle.

Marquee have not responded to questions about their dress code policy at the time of publication.

Image: Marquee Sydney