Two weeks ago, Chicago pizzeria/nightclub Bottled Blonde posted a picture of a homogenized group of smiling patrons, all balancing on the back of an upholstered sofa. That picture is only notable in retrospect, because of what the eight of them are wearing; after Bottled Blond released its exhaustive new dress code, the leather jacket, flannel shirt, and ripped jeans might keep several of them out of the club entirely.
But it's not just that: the internet doesn't explode because a bar wants to stop people from dressing like Mudhoney roadies. It's everything else on the ridiculously specific list that is causing all kinds of controversy, along with allegations that the bar is racist and classist.
A photo of the dress code was posted on the r/Chicago subreddit earlier this week, with the comment "Apparently Bottled Blonde wants only Gap patrons." Others interpreted it as a literal sign that the club only wanted people who looked like the group of smiling white people in that sofa picture. "Much to their chagrin, they can't say Whites Only," one user wrote, while another added "Banning Jordans but allowing Vans and Chucks is about as close as you can get to saying 'no black people' without actually saying it."
And the bar does ban Air Jordans, along with all other athletic shoes that aren't Chucks or Vans. It also bans "No excessively baggie [sic], sagging, ripped, dirty, frayed, overly flashy or bright clothing," "No embellishments or statement jackets, shirts, beanies or hats," "No plain white tees, long tees, denim, flanel [sic] (not even around one's waist) or zippers on shirts," "No shearling, fur, leather, jean jackets, short sleeve hoodies or overly long hoodies," "No overalls, cargo, bleached, stone, acid washed, odd colored or leather pants,' and if you wear your Cubs hat, it better be facing forward and free of any stickers or tags on the brim.
So what's left? Not much (I was going to suggest that you could roll up in those purple Heaven's Gate cult shrouds, but they all had matching Nikes, so they'd be turned away at the door.) It's a ridiculous list, both because it seems to focus on an entire demographic group and because its Instagram and Facebook pages feature a lot of white people wearing some of the articles of clothing that are on that banned list. In addition, near the top of the dress code, it says "If denied entry, changing your appearance will not change the decision," which practically screams that it's not about the Air Jordans at all.
"In spite of my black high heels, tight leggings … and black fur & leather vest, I was easily let in without the doors guys giving it a second thought," a Yelper named Katherine B wrote earlier this week. "I guess that dress code should just have a big fucking asterisks that says *DOES NOT APPLY IF YOU'RE WHITE (and especially if you're young, female, and moderately attractive under low lights)."
Even before it taped up this dumb document, Bottled Blonde had had its fair share of issues already. Last October, police were called to the restaurant after a man with a gun broke up a fight in one of the bathrooms. It's also in an ongoing feud with its neighbors and, as DNAinfo reports, it has already faced disciplinary hearings over complaints of unruly patrons. The city is currently trying to revoke the club's liquor license over a long list of allegations and misconduct, a process that begins with a hearing June 6.
"Bottled Blonde has not been a responsible restaurant operator in River North since the day they opened and remains a chronic source of quality-of-life complaints from my constituents," Alderman Brendan Reilly told DNAinfo.
I'm interested to see what its owners will wear to court on Tuesday.
MUNCHIES has reached out to Bottled Blonde for comment.