Two days ago protesters gathered outside London club DSTRKT, responding to an incident last weekend where a woman alleges two of her friends were not allowed entry because of their size and race. Lin Mei, who was invited to the club by a promoter, claims that on arrival two of her friends (Reisha and Tasha) were asked to stand on the other side of the road so that the manager could see them. At this point it's alleged the manager described the girls as "too dark" and "overweight" before refusing them entry.
Yesterday we tried repeatedly to reach DSTRKT for comment, but were largely greeted by an automated voice response or constant ringing. On two occasions we did get through, the conversation was pretty confusing. Our pretty straightforward question, "is there someone we can talk to about the allegations", was met with a mixture of "ums," "urrs," and eventually a pretty hurried "call back later." We can't have been the only ones ringing so constantly, and judging by Channel 4's attempts yesterday, everyone got a similarly evasive response.
Well now, DSTRKT have finally released a statement on Facebook. We've posted the whole transcript below, but there are some pretty strange details within it that are worth noting. Not only does the club attempt to defend itself, stating that the only reason the two women weren't allowed in was due to the club being "fully booked due to its popularity," but the statement also opts to take some more personal swipes at Lin Mei. Mei is called out for having been allowed into DSTRKT before with her friend Zalika Miller, with the proof provided in an Instagram. Now, not only is this made largely irrelevant considering neither Mei or Miller were ones barred entry last weekend, but there is also the slightly disconcerting behavior of the club rooting through personal Instagram accounts for evidence.
The odd practices then get even stranger, with another screenshot clearly of Lin Mei's personal Facebook account. It is attached to DSTRKT's statement without any accompanying caption and given its content, is clearly included to try and affect Lin Mei's standing. The content of the post, which does contain references to the "light skinned team" and "darkies," could prove to be problematic on some level, but clearly is neither relevant or appropriate material for an official statement from a business accused of practicing prejudice.
DSTRKT's full statement is below.
"DSTRKT restaurant and late night lounge has always operated an anti-racist door policy and it condemns any type of racism or discrimination by customers or staff.
The night in question of Saturday 26th September was a very busy night and the women who have made the complaint against the venue arrived without having made any prior reservation with the venue. All our tables were fully booked and we had a full general admission guest list and on that basis alone they were not granted entry. The only people who were allowed entry after the women arrived were allowed in because they had booked in advance. From our advance bookings we knew that Dstrkt would be completely sold out and the venue has clear health and safety guidelines set out by Westminster Council and cannot exceed our capacity numbers under any circumstances.
At least two of the women who made the complaint against DSTRKT Lin Mei and Zalika Miller have been allowed entry to our venue in the past, as can been seen on Lin Mei's instagram account @linmeitalks from 12 weeks ago which showed a picture of her enjoying herself at our venue with two other friends and the message stated: "… And again #nightout #dstrkt". It appears that this message has now been deleted from her account but this clearly shows that the only reason she was turned away on the night of the 26th September was that the club was fully booked due to its popularity.
DSTRKT restaurant and club has launched a thorough investigation into this alleged event and found that at no stage did any of the DSTRKT staff said to the women they were not to be allowed in on any the basis of their skin colour or size. Comments made by external promoters to the women or in general have nothing to do with DSTRKT and aren't deemed acceptable.
That said the club advises all clubbers to book in advance especially at weekends as we are a busy venue."