An exclusive London night club frequented by stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Rihanna is facing fresh allegations of racism after hitting the headlines earlier this month when it was accused of charging black customers double what it charged white customers.
Nadine Marsh-Edwards accused Drama Park Lane, part of the Hilton Park Lane hotel, of racism after her daughter said that while white women were charged £10 entry, those who were black were charged £20.
The allegation led Westminster Labour councillors to call for the club’s license to be suspended while it was investigated about the claims.
They are now calling for Westminster council to launch an inquiry into racism in nightclubs in the West End, saying the allegation is just “the tip of the iceberg”.
A spokeswoman for Drama told HuffPost that it had investigated the incident but claimed no evidence of discrimination could be found, adding that they operate a non-discriminatory policy and place “a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion”.
However, councillors say they have now heard further allegations of racism against the same nightclub. Several more individuals have also alleged to HuffPost UK that they have experienced racism at Drama.
On Saturday 26th May, Shirin Irving says she went to Drama with a friend, where she encountered discriminatory behaviour at the door when her friend was asked to show her social media accounts to prove her identity.
The pair, who are both black, said white women on the same promoter’s list were not subjected to the same questions and were allowed in for free, when they were both charged £20.
“When he got to my friend, he was scrutinising it [her ID] for about two minutes and then asked her to unlock her phone and show him her Apple ID. He made her go on her Facebook, go on her Instagram account and google her name. He made us feel really uncomfortable. It was just so unnecessary and I couldn’t understand why he was doing it,” Irving said.
“What tipped the whole thing off was when we finally got inside. The four white girls were allowed in free but they tried to charge us £20 and didn’t even give a reason.”
Irving added: “I told my parents and they were absolutely furious. I’ll never go there again and I’ve told all my friends never to go there. It was absolutely disgusting.
“I’d rather burn my money than give it to a company which is blatantly racist. Quite frankly it shouldn’t even be open.”
In a separate incident, Alexandra Wojciechowska said she and her three friends, who are all from ethnic minorities, were treated in a “horrid and humiliating” way when they attempted to enter the club on Saturday 9th June.
The group were on a promoter’s guest list, and when they got there he asked them to queue with another group, who were all white women.
The others got in for free, Wojciechowska said, but when it came to her group they were stopped by a female member of staff and two door staff.
Wojciechowska, who had been to the club numerous times before with white friends, said: “It looked like she was pointing at my darker skinned friends who were stood behind me. She then said that the promoter’s guest list was full in a very rude manner before pointing her finger at the door.”
Wojciechowska said that before they could question what it meant, a member of the door staff yelled “aggressively” that they should leave.
She said: “We felt very anxious as we were asked to leave so aggressively and I automatically felt it was race related. I don’t see or understand what else could have caused such behaviour and result in us being refused in. We were treated in such a horrid and humiliating way.”
Another woman, who asked not to be named, said she had also experienced problems at Drama, including being charged a different rate to a white woman in the same queue outside the nightclub.
The woman, who is black, said: “On my birthday last year my sister and I were asked to pay £20 each, however a white lady ahead was asked to pay £10.
“On a more recent outing to Drama, after arriving at 10pm and waiting in the queue for three hours, we were not let in, whereas many white people further down the queue were brought to the front and allowed to enter the nightclub.”
She called the behaviour “appalling” and said it was very sad that black people like herself experience these kind of incidents in 2018.
Labour has now called on the Westminster council – working with the Met Police and Mayor’s Office – to lead a full investigation into racism among nightclubs in Westminster.
Andrea Mann, a Labour councillor, said: “We are now calling for an inquiry because this allegation appears to be just the tip of a very ugly iceberg.
“TripAdvisor and Google are full of reviews claiming racial discrimination at several West End nightclubs – and there are far too many accusations to be dismissed.
“Westminster Council needs to send out a clear, urgent signal that these voices are being heard, that it takes these allegations seriously and that there is zero tolerance of racism in our borough.
“The best way it can do that is to announce a full and proper investigation into this practice and how widespread it is.”
A spokesman for the council said they were investigating the original allegation made by Marsh-Edwards, and said they “take it very seriously”.
He added that Drama nightclub were fully cooperating with this investigation and urged anyone with evidence of racism at the nightclub or any other nightclub to make a formal complaint in writing.
A spokeswoman for Drama, Park Lane said: “We have continued our investigation, including a comprehensive review of CCTV footage, door receipts, and team member interviews. We have found no evidence to support the very serious allegations.”
She said the nightclub had tried to contact Marsh-Edwards and her daughter and have been cooperating with the council. She also said the venue was looking into reviews on Tripadviser, which also allege incidents of racism, and are “liaising with guests directly to understand their experience”.
She said: “We reaffirm our position that we do not tolerate any form of discrimination against any individual or group.”
Have you had a similar experience at Drama or any other nightclub? Email Nicola.Slawson@huffpost.com.