a lesbian/feminist publication houston, texas
vol . II no. 2
You Are What You Wear
Several of us in the collective had
heard second and third hand that the Old
Plantation (formerly the Bayou Landing),
a gay bar/discotheque, was enforcing a
dress code which discriminated against
blacks and women. We thought
it would be interesting to
check it out, so four of us
"dressed up" and went to the
The man at the door let
in two of us (one wearing a
pant suit and one in a dress)
but stopped the other two
(dressed in blue jeans--one
tacky, one respectable), because they did not meet the
dress code standard. We
asked for an explanation and
he called the manager, Jodi.
dykes" ("you know what I mean") coming in
and starting fights. The overall manager
of the chain (he said) still has scars on
his back from a scrap with a "bull dyke"
who had scratched him. Hence, said Jodi,
it was understandable that
the management disliked this
"kind of woman."
Jodi was extremely patient, polite and patronizing, and amazingly cooperative. This, to the best of
our recollections and with the aid of notes
one of us took during the conversation,
is what he said.
The Old Plantation is one club in a
chain of 27 in the United States, all of
which are obliged by the corporate entity
which owns them to enforce this dress
code. Jodi said surprise visitors checked
on the club and his job would be on the
line if someone not conforming to the code
was found on the premises. (Interestingly,
Jodi is supposed to wear a coat and tie
while on duty and was riskinq rebuke for
inappropriate dress himself.)
What purpose is the code meant to
serve, we asked. Jodi said the Bayou
Landing had been troubled with "big bull
LADIES MUST BE IN
PANT SUITS OR
NO JEANS OF ANY KIND.
MEN -- NO FEMININE
ATTIRE OR HATS.
But, we said, how does
this relate to the dress
code. After all, troublemakers can wear pantsuits,
and jeans do not per se mean
the wearer is a bad person.
Jodi agreed. He himself,
after all, often wore jeans
off duty. Could men come
in jeans, we asked? It depended on who was at the
desk, said Jodi. Those who
are undesirable in the judgment of whoever is working
at the desk are turned away.
How do you detect undesirables? Not easy, he said.
Well, we asked, what about the prohibition against hats. Didn't this discriminate against blacks? Referring back
to the old club, Jodi said blacks in drag
and wearing hats came to the Bayou Landing,
some of whom "weren't even gay" and
caused trouble, hustled, even rolled
other customers. So yes, the code was
designed to keep out all but a very few
blacks, "the nice ones." Again, he confessed, it was a problem figuring out
which blacks were "nice."
Since Jodi agreed with us that people
cannot be evaluated by the clothes they
wear, we asked why they didn't just let
everyone in and do the patrolling inside.
He said he and another employee are, in
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