Downtown Athens

The Arch, bars, and downtown Athens scenes. Shanda Crowe (

It's not only age that keeps some students from entering downtown Athens bars. According to Jackson Stout, general manager of The Bury, lack of adherence to the bar's dress code can be grounds for bouncers to refuse patrons.

Stout said most downtown Athens bars have dress codes, and they are recommended.

“When you file your insurance, you are given a list of things that would be good to have on your dress code,” he said.

The code exists to prevent people from sneaking things such as weapons into bars, said Kenny Powers, general managers at Flanagan’s.

“We ban excessively baggy clothing and backpacks for that purpose,” he said.

But Jared Alexander, an African American student from Decatur, said in addition to limiting dangerous situations, the dress codes also limit a certain group of students.

“I understand that all of these [bars] are private institutions and they have the right to choose how they want their patrons to dress,” said Alexander, a senior marketing major. “But I think my issues is more the fact that these dress codes are not consistent and it is certainly, I feel, targeted towards a particular demographic.”

While the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevents public-sector businesses from refusing service on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion or natural origin, private businesses can refuse customers for being unreasonably rowdy, lacking adequate personal hygiene or creating safety concerns.

"As private businesses, bars have the right to refuse service to anyone, so the owner can specifically say that he does not want a certain clientele," Stout said. "Luckily our owner is not like that, so we just make sure that everyone is legal and their I.D. is within date and that they follow the dress code."

Alexander said for that reason, he always makes conscious apparel choices before a night downtown.

“I have a Terry sweatshirt that I wear when I go downtown, that way they can identify me as a UGA student or at least help to identify me as a UGA student,” he said. 

But he can't always prevent trouble.

On one particular night Alexander recalled, a bouncer at an undisclosed bar denied him access for wearing a beanie cap. Even after exiting the line and giving his hat to a friend, he was again denied.

“I took off my hat and it wasn’t even in my hands. I wasn’t carrying it just to put it back on once I get inside. It didn’t make sense,” he said.

Though he has always been able to enter at least one bar during a night downtown, Alexander said there are certain bars he feels he needs to be on guard.

Bars also refuse entry to patrons when a private party is taking place — an explanation Alexander has also been given when he feels the bar is hiding discriminatory policies.

“I didn’t understand because I saw [the bouncer] let the guys in before me,” he said. “I knew that they were not with the private party; they were with me.”

Alexander said that he will continue to go downtown despite the discrimination he has felt at particular bars, because he wants to push the envelope and show them that they won’t win. 

“Yes, [bar dress codes] are racist and discriminatory, but still you shouldn’t let them get in the way of your fun. I’m wearing the clothes and meeting all the guidelines. I’m over 21, and I am still not being let in, “ Alexander said. “Why is that?”

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(5) comments


The bouncers are black.


Every bar has a strict dress code, but the dress codes are directed at black people because of the type of clothes that you can’t wear in the bar. I don't imagine they would forbid a patron wearing a black bodycon dress to enter the bar, but they can use any lame excuse like the obligatory dress code to refuse service to people they don't like. It's sad to still see this kind of behavior in 2016.


A specific dress code rule may seem like an easy way to refuse unwanted customers, but it is customary for classy restaurants to impose one. If each restaurant had someone like Betsy Johnson in charge of the employees' uniforms, they'd all be wearing white custom dress shirts for men, with a black bow tie. Maybe one day we, as a culture, will get over the dress code stage, but until then, you'll have to suit up to go out.


Things to note-

1. Only notes one adult's "bad" experience. If you try to make the between the lines argument that downtown bars are racist, then you need more examples and statistics.

2. What was the bouncer's take on the situation? Lets call someone racist and not give them the right to defend themselves.

3. Its not about race. Its about economics. The goal of a business is to make money. So they are going to enforce policies that benefit their profitability. If they think having certain policies are going to create an atmosphere that is profitable to them, then yes they're going to do it. Are you going to be able to do anything about it? No you're not. Sure, hold a protest and close the bar down... another one will open in its place and that bar will do what it can to survive in the competitive downtown bar scene. Why do you think the bars downtown let so many underage drinkers in? They know its illegal. Its all about money and you can't beat it.

4. I love how this kid's plan is to continue to go downtown and party to fight this injustice! UGA! UGA! UGA!

5. My advice is go the classy places. I have black friends at UGA and they never had a problem at the quality places. Or you can go and get rejected by one of those bars where the floor is sticky and the frat boys are asses and feel bad for getting rejected.

ps.Not white.


I'm a doorman an Buddha Bar and our dress code has nothing to do with race. So come here and we will love your business

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