The ‘Too Urban’/Cirque le Soir Controversy – February/March 2017

I’ve been discussing a lot very recently around the controversy around the NFL players who were refused entry into Cirque le Soir club in Central London a few weeks ago.

In short, they were refused entry as they were told they were ‘too urban’ to get in. This is the tweet in question that got a lot of people talking:-

The eventual coverage this had received had caused a lot of (understandable) outrage – with the #TooUrban topic trending a few weeks back, and caused Café De Paris’ Twitter account to be closed for a while.

I spent a lot of time talking about this to friends recently – much more than I thought – and brought up some interesting points from all sides on this.

Here’s my take:-

FACT – No high-end bars/clubs in Central London will let a group of guys in at peak hours (6-8pm onwards) on any given night. Regardless of age, ethnicity, etc the amount of times over the years myself and a few guy friends have tried to get in as a group of 5-6 (even more) was hopeless – regardless of who we were and how we were dressed. We were always told mixed groups only.

However, that being said, according to the report coming out of Mixmag (, Mark Ingram and his team had booked an area beforehand/made a reseveration.

That changes things a lot, in my view, as under the assumption the venue would know exactly who was coming in, it’s different from them ‘trying their luck’ at the door (so to speak), they had pre-booked an area, and, I’d assume there would be a Minimum Spend/Deposit of some sort they would have had to adhere to, to get and maintain that reservation/area (which doesn’t normally happen in lower-end bars/clubs)

Others I’ve spoken to about this – namely friends of mine who have done bar/club venue promotion in the past – have also said the venue would see them as ‘causing trouble’ because ‘that’s what groups of guys tend to do’. I strongly disagree, considering NFL players – like football players here in the UK – would likely want to keep their head down at all costs to ensure no bad publicity gets their way, for the sake of their professional careers.

The venue (alledgedly) using the term ‘too urban’ to turn them away was probably not the best way to communicate this to them – it’s inflammatory term and causes unnecessary friction.

It’s not an easy subject to address – as my promoter friend told me that ‘Clubs are looking for people that cater for them, not for the people’ and it’s always their right to refuse entry – but there has to be an understanding that if any area is booked beforehand, there needs to be an understanding around who was coming in, from both parties, so there is an understanding both time of booking and at arrival.

The biggest problem this has caused – especially with the term ‘too urban’ – is that it’s highlighted again the issues with ethnicity and gender with venues allowing entry in Central London (no need to mention the DSTRKT controversy a few years back too).

Here’s hoping the situation improves over the coming months, especially with Amy Lame, London’s relatively-new Night Mayor, at the helm…

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