January 30, 2013

Dress code debate turns into battle for equality at Fourth Street Live

By Tyler Mercer–

Fourth Street Live!, a major tourist attraction in Louisville, has recently come under fire by social justice activists for its dress code they deem racially exclusive.

Every weekend, Fourth Street Live! is flooded with people trying to dine out and enjoy the nightlife.

Racial discrimination is hardly a thing of the past, but it is still baffling the lengths people will go to prove something is discriminatory. I’ve met many people who wouldn’t waste a second to blame someone for anything at all. If racism is truly happening, I see no problem with calling it out. It is 2013, it’s high time everyone recognizes our God-given equality as human beings.

That equality doesn’t transfer well to society because divisions are still a huge part of how we see the world. We are inadvertently taught by the media, literature and things like video games, that not everyone is equal. While our generation has come a long way from when our parents were our age, it is still common to see prejudice and discrimination today. Last Monday, Jan. 21, protesters gathered at the entrance to Fourth Street Live! to rally against the dress code currently enforced for the entertainment complex. Protesters argued that the dress code was racially discriminatory and that it should be altered immediately.
The dress code is laid out simply on the venue’s website at: 4thstlive.com/info. It reads as follows: “Smart casual attire recommended: clothing that is fitted, neat and appropriate. The following is not permitted under the Fourth Street Live! dress code: profanity on clothing, sleeveless shirts on men, excessively torn clothing, exposed undergarments on men (including undershirts), full sweat suits, sweat pants, excessively long shirts (when standing upright with arms at your side, the bottom of your shirt cannot extend below the tip of your fingers), sunglasses (after 9 p.m.) and athletic shorts.”
Personally, I wouldn’t think wearing a sweat suit or sweat pants would be appropriate for a night out. Most of the rules seem pretty understandable for anyone who regularly goes out with their friends. You wouldn’t wear athletic shorts to a club, would you?
It seems that common sense would prevail, but obviously not. Dress codes are not uncommon for establishments and are generally used to maintain a level of professionalism and to help provide patrons with an experience they enjoy and want to have again. If every other person who walks by has their underwear hanging out or bold print of their favorite curse word across their chest, most people will think that’s inappropriate. Don’t blast the color of your underwear to everyone. We do not care whether you prefer Hanes to Fruit of the Loom. It’s called under-wear for a reason.
These rules aren’t racist; they are rules. It is as simple as that. If you wanted to eat at a restaurant that was a button up and tie kind of place, you would wear a button up and a tie. If not, you wouldn’t eat there.
Admittedly, some of these rules could be found discriminating, but I think it all comes from your state of mind. If everyone stereotypes a style of clothing to be worn by a certain group of people, then anything that shines that clothing in a negative light is going to be considered discriminatory. Stereotyping will never be fully stopped, but if we as individuals work to stop stereotyping people in our minds, then that will transfer into our actions.Stereotypically, we think all people of a race dress and act the same. For those who don’t fit into those specific stereotypes, people will say something along the lines of, “Oh, you’re so white.” That isn’t the case, though. Everyone is an individual and should be treated as such. Each person leads a completely different life and therefore can’t be expected to fall into certain guidelines. Building on that idea and the fact that entertainment venues can refuse service to patrons who don’t follow guidelines, it is clear that the problem doesn’t lie with dress code at Fourth Street Live! The problem lies with how everyone is approaching the subject. We teach children that rules are rules and we must abide by them. That lesson hasn’t changed. If you want to enjoy a night at Fourth Street Live! you’re simply going to have to follow the rules. One night with a belt on and your underwear securely under your clothes will not hurt you. I promise.

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Photo: Courtesy of Flickr/timothyj

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