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Does Lucky Strike's Dress Code Go Too Far?

By Anthony Todd in Food on Oct 14, 2010 4:00PM

LuckyStrike.jpg Dress codes, especially at fine dining establishments, are a common cause of debates nowadays. It doesn't surprise us to see expensive restaurants banning ripped jeans or requiring a tie and jacket, even though it seems like those sorts of requirements are becoming rarer and rarer. But bowling alleys? What is our world coming to?

During a visit to AMC River East, I noticed a new sign outside Lucky Strike (the adjacent bar, club and bowling alley) detailing their dress code. The dress code has always been in effect, but I'd never noticed the sign - perhaps it was added because many CIFF events are being held at Lucky Strike. I didn't really care, since I wasn't planning on going in. Then I started reading the sign. Unfortunately, I didn't have a camera, but another kind soul took a picture of a similar sign. The dress code is, however, on their website for all to see.

According to Lucky Strike, their "strictly enforced" dress code requires "neat, fitted attire" and specifically bans the following:

  • Athletic Wear or Sports Jerseys (except on game days, but only of the teams that are playing)
  • Excessively baggy clothing
  • MC Colors (i had to look that one up)
  • Sleeveless t-shirts
  • Plain white t-shirts
  • Construction Boots
  • Ripped or Soiled clothing
  • Head gear (except "stylish caps")

We don't even know where to start with this. First, doesn't this seem a bit insane for a glorified bowling alley? In their press material, Lucky Strike brags that the owner purchased all the iconic bowling fittings used to make the Big Lebowski. Can you imagine the Dude adhering to this dress code? Clearly, fishnet stockings and high heels are appropriate attire, if you use their press materials as a guide. The ban on sleeveless shirts must not apply to women, if the 20-foot-tall model in lace outside their entrance is to be taken literally. And what's with the ban on plain white t-shirts? ChicagoNow posted something on this last year, but only during a discussion of bars enforcing a certain fashionable aesthetic. Is something more going on here?

Other observers in other cities (including Gothamist) have pointed out the racial element that seems inherent in this set of rules. A New York City cop (who is African-American) announced in March that he was suing Lucky Strike in New York because they wouldn't let him in wearing hiking boots, and that the door staff was "so busy being racist that logic didn't matter." If you look up Lucky Strike on yelp, accusations of racism, and of improper enforcement of this code, are all over the place. Establishments have the right to require any dress code they want, as long as it applies to anyone, but shouldn't a certain element of reasonableness apply? Especially when such vague language is used - "stylish" caps, "neat" attire - it seems like the potential for conflict is high.

A request for comment from Lucky Strike was unanswered at the time this was posted.