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Get Your Racism On and Dance the Night Away!

January 5, 2010 1 comment

***UPDATE:***

The owners of Town Danceboutique have changed the wording of their ad and have issued an apology. Here’s what my friend Juan Garcia received in response to an email to Town’s owner Ed Bailey:

Mr. Garcia,

Thank you for your well written, respectful email. I actually appreciate your point of view and I understand your concern.

In marketing for the last 20 years, I have learned that when you push the boundaries, some one gets offended. I have similarly learned that, because people’s tastes and responses to certain things are unique, there is no use in debating weather something is in good taste or not. It is completely relative…. See More

Obviously, the intention of our promotional language was to be humorous and obviously you felt as though it was not.

It is clearly not my intention to ever offend anyone at any time and I think that if you knew me or my business partners, you would know that we have more integrity and a higher ethical standing than probably any nightclub ownership has ever shown…from our sponsorship of many current employees for citizenship, to our employee healthcare plan to our continued charitable practices.

Prior to the receipt of your email, the language of our emails and website has changed. (re-occurring MW ads had already gone to press) As a group, we feel terrible that we actually offended anyone and will work diligently to keep from doing so in the future.

Ed Bailey
Town Danceboutique

I’m glad to see they corrected their mistake and that they issued a sincere apology. Other small businesses could learn a thing or two from Mr. Bailey’s business ethic.

I hate mega-clubs.

I hate straight mega-clubs and I hate gay mega-clubs.

I suppose they play an “important” part in the lives of young gay men in the coming out process, but the novelty of it quickly wore off for me. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a problem with beautiful shirtless men dancing their butts off, or, necessarily, the excessive drinking and the drug use that goes on at these places. This happens at most establishments, many of which I patronize, and I would be a hypocrite if I criticized these clubs for those things. I think there might be some truth to the criticism that these institutions only detract from the gay rights movement because they only perpetuate stereotypes, but I don’t really hate them for that either. That’s a highly debatable notion, after all.

Add in the terrible generic “thumpa thumpa” sounding music, the overpriced drinks, and, worst of all the outrageous cover charge (I HATE COVER CHARGES) and you’ve got the makings of what I consider hell on earth.

Today, though, I discovered a new reason to hate on these clubs.

A friend pointed out an email he recieved from Town Danceboutique today. It’s one of DC’s biggest gay night clubs and it’s right in the heart of the historic U Street district. Naturally, it attracts a fair number of patrons every weekend.

The email is a standard weekly notice about the upcoming events. Today’s email included this little gem, coming up on Sunday:

Sunday, January 17th

WTF? is an event that defies definition and where anything can happen…from the bondage Elmo to the fried chicken to the unicorn will pulled out of a giant turkey for thanksgiving…

This time WTF? presents: Que es el Fucko?…climb the border fence and eat a taco and explora with Dora…

WTF, indeed. Someone should tell Town’s owners to STFU!

First, this is just plain stupid writing. Fom a PR perspective, this has got to be one of the worst descriptions of an event ever. I understand wanting to be vague so as to pique interest, but you’ve got to give folks something. You’ve got to provide them with some tidbit of information that’s going to make them want to go out, on a Sunday night no less, pay a cover and then pay for the outrageously priced drinks. This email does not achieve that.

Second, and worst of all, this is overtly offensive! If you’re going to be crass and be funny at the same time you have to know how to do it. Achieving this is hard enough whilst speaking, let alone writing. As my friend pointed out, what if the email read “WTF? presents: what the fuck ni**@, eat some watermelon and pick your pants up” would that have passed muster?

What if you got wind of an event that Tatoo Bar or The Park was hosting and their marketing material included emails that read: “OMG! presents: Haaaaay, girl! Let’s tweak and shove dildos up our asses! A revue of gay culture in DC.” Would you be okay with seeing that in your inbox? I think not.

What is so funny about the image of men, women and children risking their lives to cross our southern border to find a better life? Who thought it would be a good idea to have a laugh at the expense of this country’s largest minority? There’s an immigration bill making its way through Congress that could have a real positive impact for the thousands of gay families that are routinely ripped apart because of our inane immigration policy. It has several detractors, of course, and seeing things like this advertised only presents more fodder for the anti’s who would love to see nothing more than a fight between the immigrant community and the LGBT community.

This is all too symptomatic of a LGBT community that is often ignorant of its racism and which has no sensitivity for any group but its own.

Sadly, this is something gay people of color have to contend with all the time. I know there are folks who are working to change this dynamic in the community, but that job is made increasingly difficult when businesses like Town, which has played host to many a HRC and Capital Pride event among others, send out messages like this to their giant email list.

And for those critics who would say I should calm down, that it’s just a night club, I say you’re wrong. It is not just a night club. Town is a place where thousands of DC’s young gays congregate and share on a weekly basis. What kind of message are Town’s proprietors sending when they host an event that from the outset seeks to negatively caricature an entire group of people?

It is certainly not one of inclusiveness and equality. It is anything but.

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