Southside Social dress code has racist, sexist, classist undertones

By Sylvia Shipman, Assistant Features Editor–

Southside Social has been facing a lot of backlash due to a Facebook post they made about their new, and highly exclusive, dress code. It’s been called racist, sexist and classist so far in the comments on their Facebook page, all of which I agree with.

Some of the outlawed items include do-rags, loose or baggy clothing, oversized chains or excessive jewelry… I think we can all imagine what type, or race, of person they are describing.

As one commenter said, “the list would be shorter if they just said what you can wear.” If they did that, the described outfit would be what you see the typical frat guy wearing: a polo with khakis and Sperrys.

I was worried that describing do-rags and baggy clothes as traditionally black would make someone say I was racist.

To strengthen this commentary, I enlisted the help of Semaja Reed, a black social work major hailing from Knoxville. Social issues have always been a topic of concern for Reed, so once she saw the Southside Social dress code, she couldn’t help but feel disappointed.

“Clothing items like do-rags are just a part of black culture,” Reed said. “A lot of the

things listed fit into black culture.”

They don’t explicitly say “black,” but the dress code outlaws clothing items that are traditionally worn by a black person. Reed takes this as one, avoiding conflict, and two, allowing black people to be there as long as they don’t bring their culture in with them.

It’s painting black people who dress this way as criminals. What is Southside Social even afraid of? Someone stealing a bowling ball? Someone bringing a gun in and shooting up the place? They should be outlawing white culture then.

It doesn’t help that Southside Social is located in one of the ten most gentrified zip codes in America. It surprises me even more than Southside Social has the audacity to have this dress code when the establishment is surrounded by black dominated areas.

Also, this is the first time I’ve seen a bar tell women not to wear revealing clothing. I thought we were past the point of shaming women for wearing short skirts.

In addition to the racism and sexism, this dress code is incredibly classist. Outlawing “work boots” and most types of lounge clothing like loose clothes and hoodies is rooting out those who can’t afford to buy dressier clothing like button-downs and Sperrys.

I don’t even know why Southside Social is trying to seem so classy. The last time one of my friends was there, she said she saw two (white) guys get in a fist fight. Southside Social should leave the upscale bar experience to the Flying Squirrel, or better yet, the Pinewood Social in Nashville that they obviously stole the idea from.

Ashley Day

Ashley Day


Ashley is a communication major with a minor in psychology. She spends most of her spare time hiking, eating sushi or taking photos. To contact Ashley, email her at

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