Guest Editorial: Scottsdale Club Policy Produces Calls of Discrimination – Does Old Town Have a Race Problem?

By Alexander Lomax

Photo Credit: Experience Scottsdale

APG readers almost certainly are aware of the brilliant nightlife that Scottsdale, and more specifically Old Town, offers both residents and tourists. We would like to think that said nightlife both walks the line between debauched and out-of-control (although recent spats of violence imply that maybe that line hasn’t been walked too effectively). One topic that is not often brought up is diversity and potential for discrimination in our nightlife however.

With that spirit in mind, we found this reporting from Cronkite News (the joint journalism effort between Arizona State University and PBS) to be particularly interesting: it details how basketball sneakers are often grounds for non-admission into nightclubs in town. While some older readers may think to themselves, why are they wearing sneakers into a club anyway? However, anyone under the age of 40 could tell you that new, high-end basketball shoes are often at the forefront of fashion for the nightclub set however.

While I think that most of us would agree that as private enterprises, nightclubs should have the ability to dictate the rules for entry, within reason at least. That said, there are also reports of said rules being implemented equitably, unequally, and with apparent bias. This is obviously the crux of the potential problem.

According to the story, bouncers say that the reason for this is to prevent fights; after all, it’s certainly not unheard of for altercations to happen after a drink is spilled on a new pair of shoes, or they are stepped on. As silly as that may seem, when the testosterone of youth is combined with alcohol, such an otherwise absurd dynamic becomes possible. That said, the testimony of former bouncers imply otherwise, as do the testimonials of patrons regarding inconsistent application of those rules.

I hope that our nightclub operators understand the importance and value of diversity, as stories like these only hurt our brand and those who have been negatively impacted bring those stories back to their homes, and future tourism suffers as a result.

Scottsdale is at its best when people from different backgrounds, of different colors, creeds, religions etc. can come together and enjoy our great city together, and our nightclubs are no different. I am not sure of a way to ensure that such discrimination doesn’t happen; I don’t believe in heavy-handed regulations that will likely be worked around anyway. I do hope that our nightlife operators understand that everyone deserves to enjoy our city’s nightlife, so long as they do so safely and peacefully.