A POPULAR Bournemouth nightclub has refuted claims of racism after refusing to let a pre-booked group of black men through the door on Saturday night.
The 11 men had travelled from London to celebrate a reunion and had pre-booked a table at Cameo nightclub paying £750 upfront.
But on arrival the group, who say they were not drunk or rowdy, were refused entry by the bouncers and were told they would not get a refund.
The men involved say they believe they were refused entry because they were black.
But a spokesman for Cameo said they “categorically refuted” the allegations and has now “fully refunded the group” and apologised for any disappointment.
The childhood friends, aged in their late 20s, arrived at the club at about 11.30pm on Saturday for the reunion.
They had with them emailed confirmation from the club of the party booking, with acknowledgement of the size of the party, and had all adhered to the smart dress code.
But at the door the group were turned away causing an argument with the door staff which was caught on camera by one of the men.
The video has now gone viral reaching as far as the United States.
Calling it the “worst experience of his life”, Jason Jean-Charles, one of the men involved said “the manner in which things unfolded was very painful and traumatising”.
“After doing the 93 mile drive, full of excitement and plans to have a great evening, only to be refused entry was extremely disappointing.
“We quizzed the head doorman and management as to why they wouldn’t let us in and were told it was because the group was too large and that they do not allow double digit groups due to fear of trouble.
“This was despite the fact that the club advertises booths that hold 25 people with a minimum 15 and had already taken our payment.”
What made it worse for the group was that just minutes later a similar-sized group of Caucasian men were granted access to the club.
Leonard Lionel, 35, who was one of the men involved, said he felt drained from the experience.
“Being African-Caribbean I have experienced racism my whole life – whether it’s people locking their car doors as I walk past or clutching their handbag tighter. But It is 2015, things like this should not be happening.
“I have no desire to bring down a company but the staff members who dealt with us on Saturday night need to be reprimanded.”
Adnan Chaudry, chief officer of Dorset Race Equality Council, said: “The bouncers and the management reacted to seeing 12 black men and thinking that there would be trouble.
“I think the club made a massive mistake and it’s terrible that this is the impression that this group got from their first trip to Bournemouth.”
The club has not yet given a reason why the group was denied entry.
In a statement on Facebook the spokesperson for Cameo said: “We operate a professional and well run venue and we reserve the right to refuse entry for various reasons, but race is never one of them.”
“We have a diverse customer base and staffing at the club.
(The article is an extract from the Bournemouth Echo)