Friends Swap Sneakers to Expose Forth Worth Club’s Discriminatory ‘Air Jordan Ban’

Varsity Tavern Racist

Varsity Tavern has faced complaints of racial discrimination in the past. (Photo by Max Faulkner/Star-Telegram)

A pair of friends cleverly swapped sneakers to expose a popular Fort Worth  club’s selective enforcement of a ban on Air Jordan shoes meant to exclude Black patrons.

Dallas native Sam Sayed invited a group of friends from grad school to visit his hometown and decided they would spend a night out, the Star-Telegram reported. When they arrived at the Varsity Tavern bar in the city’s nightlife district, however, Sayed’s friend Stephen, an African-American man from the Bronx, was turned away by a bouncer who claimed ” … he couldn’t allow anyone wearing Jordan [sneakers] into the establishment.”

Sayed said he and his friends left for about an hour but decided to test the theory that the exclusion might have been racially motivated. So, he had Stephen swap sneakers with his white friend, Sean Gallagher, who was subsequently granted entry into the downtown club. Stephen wore Gallagher’s Sperry shoes and was also let in, only after the bouncer checked his ID and “triple checked his shoes.”

” … So let me clarify Varsity’s Jordan rule. It’s not that they do not allow Jordan’s in their establishment, they don’t allow BLACK PEOPLE with Jordan’s in their establishment,” Sayed wrote on Facebook.

“Thanks Varsity for bringing my worst nightmare to fruition,” he added. “We’re stereotyped as racist people here in Texas and you guys validated that notion. Not that is should matter, but this guy [Stephen] is going to be a freaking doctor!”

According to the Star-Telegram, Varsity Tavern has faced numerous claims of racism and discrimination in the past. Clubgoers alleged they were barred entry to the establishment because of their race or saw others get turned away when bouncers selectively enforced the “no Jordans” dress code.

Varsity Tavern issued a statement via Facebook on Tuesday, saying it was “saddened” by customers’ complaints of racial discrimination.

“At Varsity Tavern we consistently strive to deliver a perfect night out to all of our guests, and we were saddened to learn there were people who felt they had been discriminated against when they were turned away based on our dress code,” it read.

” … Racial discrimination is something we, as a diverse family ourselves, take very seriously and absolutely do not tolerate or condone,” it continued. “We’ll continue to work with our staff to maintain consistency in how we enforce our policies, so we can keep bringing our Fort Worth community some of the best nights of their lives on W. 7th.”

Back to top