August 16 2007, 10:29 PM
There's a lot of folks buzzing about alleged racial discrimination at the Purple Martini DTC. I had a call this afternoon from Will Coleman, the owner of all three Purple Martini locations (Denver, DTC, Boulder). I didn't respond immediately, until I came home and checked my e-mail. Then I understood why he wanted to talk right away. I read an e-mail from DJ Big Spade which has been forwarded and re-forwarded, stating that while DJing at Purple DTC on Friday, August 3 he heard the GM make a blatantly racial comment. He alleges that the GM said it was getting "too dark in here and frankly it's scaring away my white customers." Spade goes on in the e-mail to describe how the customers are chosen based on race from the line for entry to the club, about how the white security guard inside the club had a different uniform (button-up long sleeve shirt) than the black security guards outside (black tank tops), and how he was limited as a DJ in the music he was allowed to play. According to Coleman, the GM has been suspended while they look into the allegations, but he seems upset and a little baffled by the situation. His GM is denying the allegations, and Coleman said he finds it "suspicious" that Spade originally forwarded the e-mail to several promoters who compete against him and his club. Coleman says that the people who are not allowed in on any given night are turned away due to dress code, not race, and that as a black man himself, he has always gone "above and beyond to create diversity." He says the inside security has to follow the dress code (ie, no tank tops) and that DJ Spade, who only performed a few nights, was playing music outside the club's regular format. "My original motto was one color, one people, one vibe," Coleman said. "And yes, we have a dress code and we have to stick to the rules to make the formula work." Personally, I think that Coleman has always done a good job creating an upscale and racially diverse atmosphere and clientele in his clubs. But if his GM really made that statement, he needs to ditch the guy, and fast. Trouble is, how do you determine the truth in a classic case of he-said, he-said?