A young black woman has described the “surreal” and “humiliating” experience of being turned away from a popular London club, allegedly because of the colour of her skin.
The 21-year-old, who asked only to be identified as Priscilla, had booked the venue to celebrate her birthday. She claims that while her white friends were allowed in to Tiger Tiger, in Piccadilly Circus, she was denied access, along with around 80 black friends.
Speaking exclusively to HuffPost UK, she said: “It was really surreal and one of the most humiliating experiences of my life.
“The manager said: ‘We don’t want you guys here. You’re 5% of our revenue and 100% of our problems’. We were then told that they’re cancelling my event.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for Tiger Tiger said the venue does not “tolerate any form of racial discrimination”. They said the club had reviewed their CCTV footage following the allegation, and had interviewed staff on the night in question.
They found “no racial discrimination involved in refusing entry to the party in question”, and said the customers’ conduct was “in breach” of Tiger Tiger’s policies.
“To ensure the safety and welfare of other customers the General Manager asked the guests to leave and made a full refund to the party host,” the spokesperson said.
But Priscilla disagrees. The student, who is currently reading Politics and German at University College London (UCL), said: “Their justification was that this group was being rowdy [...] The policy is to deny entry to someone who you feel is not behaving in an appropriate manner – that doesn’t mean you get to cancel the event, altogether.”
“We were all dressed amazingly. All the boys had smart shoes on. I dragged all my friends from up and down the country to come and stand on the street – looking like fools,” she said. “It was completely humiliating. The way that the manager was speaking to me was condescending, patronising and I pointed it out to him.”
“Because of the colour of our skin, we were painted out to be aggressive, rowdy and it was just completely false.
“My white friends, who were let in, were completely intoxicated, drunk, but all my friends outside were very respectful and well behaved,” said Priscilla.
″Management kept on using racialized words like ‘aggressive’, and said we were compromising the safety of the guests.
“I’m a paying customer and the way I’ve been treated is absolutely disgusting. The way he spoke to me, I’ll never forget it. In this day and age, you don’t have to call me a racial slur or spit on me for that to entail racism.”
The student said she plans to take legal action against the club.
News of the incident sparked criticism from many people, who condemned Tiger Tiger for its actions. One account, @TheBBWH, tweeted: “Damn I loved tiger tiger definitely crossing them off my list now”
@James_Briddon tweeted: “Not surprised to hear this unfortunately... I’m always amazed at how openly racist so many big nightclubs/door staff around the world are. It’s quite incredible actually!”
In June, HuffPost UK reported on claims that Drama Park Lane, part of the Hilton Park Lane hotel, had discriminated against black customers.
Shirin Irving said she encountered racist behaviour at the exclusive London club 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.
A spokeswoman for Drama told HuffPost UK at the time 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”.
The alleged incident was called a “total disgrace” by two Westminster councillors and the issue was also being looked into by Amy Lamé, London’s night czar.
In September 2015, a group of young black women were allegedly turned away from DSTRKT nightclub for being “too fat” and “too dark”. Details of the incident were shared widely across social media, prompting other black women to come forward with their own stories of discriminatory treatment.
Priscilla said she is unsurprised by the club’s stance. “Racial discrimination is very difficult to prove but I’m a black woman in the UK – I know discrimination when I see it,” she said.
“I’ve been a bit concerned about press coverage of this matter because many may feel as though we’re playing the race card but, in this day and age, people are more offended by being called racist than actually being racist.”