A new gay club in Manhattan’s Chelsea section is facing backlash amid reports its staff are refusing entry to patrons of color, according to numerous reports by clubgoers who say they were rebuffed at the door.
Rebar NYC, located at the site of the former G Lounge on West 19th Street, appears to be telling Black people waiting outside that “the bar is full”, although a closer inspection of the premises reveals a sparse crowd. Over the past several days, GBMNews has received a litany of complaints about the club’s alleged “black limit”, used to make the bar more attractive to “higher-paying” white customers. One such experience was had by Ian Alexis, a well-known personality in the city’s Black gay community.
After a late dinner at a nearby restaurant, Alexis and his boyfriend, a Georgia native visiting the city, and several other friends chose to wind up their night on the town at Rebar. “We were told that they were at capacity and had stopped letting people in,” Alexis recalls.
A Rebar employee who knew the group, got them admitted, and Alexis was incensed when he discovered the truth. Alexis; a tall, muscular man says, “I could have done handsprings from one end of that bar to the other, and not touched anyone.“
A Rebar manager, speaking on condition of anonymity, said “there is no credence to these allegations, and we therefore have no comment.” A heated exchange on Facebook between Alex Arevalo, identified by numerous patrons as the club owner, or owner’s boyfriend, showed Arevalo defending Rebar’s “diverse staff” citing the fact that they employed a “three Latino bartenders, an African American floor manager, and an African American head DJ.”
One clubgoer rebutted that “the fact you’ve had to list each individual, proves my point. None of the club’s promotional material reflects these African-Americans you claim work there.” An examination of Rebar’s Facebook page almost exclusively depicted white patrons or staff.
Several would-be patrons concurred, saying Rebar has a “pattern” of discrimination.
In a review of the club, Gunna Blaque wrote, “If your skin is Black or brown, and you are offered admission [to Rebar], you are either the help, or a circuit boy snow bunny. That spot is only packed to capacity when Black dick is in the building.“
Alexis echoed this sentiment, telling GBMNews that “we were shocked and confused at the way we were treated. This is New York City in 2017.”
In recent years, the number of LGBT night spots in the city has dwindled, owing to a combination of rapid gentrification and skyrocketing rents. Such long-running hangouts as Escuelita’s, Splash, Chi-Chiz, Secrets, and Diamond’s, all of which catered to a diverse clientele, have closed their doors. The remaining venues, and new entries like Rebar, seem unwilling to embrace the fullness of the city’s LGBT community. “Christopher Street is gone,”Alexis noted, “and we don’t have any real choice in the places we can go.”
Rebar, which opened for business last Thursday, was also cited by several patrons for its “gender specific restrooms”, a hot-button issue amidst legislative efforts in several states to force transgender individuals to use restrooms that don’t match their gender identity.
Arevalo replied that “The bathrooms [in Rebar] are interconnected, it’s one complete long bathroom, which allows you to use whichever entrance you see fit.”
Another complaint was the club’s dress code, which seemed to exclude “urban attire.” Alexis says this is just a red herring. “Are they saying it’s OK to come in if you’re Black, as long as you’re not ‘urban’?”
Rebar staff, contacted by GBMNews, declined comment for this story.