Patrons question nightclub dress codes

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

Nightclubs and restaurants have every right to establish and enforce dress codes. But 3 On Your Side's Gary Harper says some consumers are questioning these dress codes.

We've all heard the old saying, "No shoes, no shirt, no service," but many consumers have contacted 3 On Your Side saying current Valley dress codes are getting way out of hand.

“As for me and my home, we will serve the Lord," Dean Cantrell said.

He said his Christian faith means a lot to him. In fact, he has symbols of his faith around his home and even around his neck.

"I wear it because I'm a Christian," he said. "I feel like the cross is the symbol, it's an outward expression of my inward belief in Christ."

Cantrell wears his cross necklace all the time even on the night he went out to celebrate a friend's birthday. 

That celebration happened at a place called the Sandbar Mexican Grill in Chandler. But, Cantrell said he never made it inside because the doorman at the front had this to say: "His exact words to me was that I needed to take my cross back to my car," Cantrell said.

Cantrell was shocked and asked why he would have to take off a necklace that meant so much to him.

“And he's like, 'We don't allow large necklaces of any kind,' and I'm like, 'But it's not large,' and I actually had it in my hand at the time,” Cantrell said.

Cantrell took offense to the request, kept his necklace on and wound up leaving Sandbar without celebrating his friend's birthday.

"I would hate to say it, but I think it was religious discrimination," he said.

3 On Your Side wanted to know more about this issue and Valley dress codes in general. 

So, we sent one of our station employees into to the same bar wearing a very similar cross necklace. 

But he also wasn't allowed inside because the doorman said it violated their no "external jewelry" policy clearly posted at the entrance.

It may sound like a strange policy but Adam Urbanski, Sandbar's general manger, tells 3 On Your Side it makes sense.

"Friday and Saturday nights that's our formal night, that's when we set that mood," he said.

And Urbanski said loud, blingy jewelry is not the mood they want. However, what Urbanski didn't know is that 3 On Your Side took that same cross that got one of our male employees kicked out and put it on another station employee -- this time a woman -- and she had no problem walking right in the Sandbar. 

But wait a minute, what about that policy banning crosses because they're "external jewelry"? Well, Urbanski said it's geared more toward men, not women.

"Large jewelry is part of a female's attire in our society and that's just something that seems like a slippery slope to start enforcing that so we don't," he said.

3 On Your Side discovered all kind of dress code dilemmas that raise questions. For example, at Scottsdale nightclub American Junkie, Fernandez Shaw was told to leave because he was wearing Kenneth Cole shoes.

"He looked down at my shoes he goes, 'Oh, we can't let you in because of what you're wearing,'" Shaw said. "He said we can't let you in because of boots and hi-top boots."   

And because of his so-called "boots" Fernandez got the boot.

American Junkie didn't want to talk on camera about their dress code but in an email to 3 On Your Side, they say, “American Junkie adopts a dress code after 9pm nightly which excludes wearing sporting attire, team logo hats, jerseys, flip flops and certain sneakers."

Fernandez said he hardly thinks his Kenneth Cole dress shoes are considered sneakers and wonders if there is something more to Valley dress codes.

Cantrell, who continues to wear his cross necklace every day, wonders the same thing.

"I wear my cross for my faith," he said. "I don't wear it for a fashion statement."

Again, the Sandbar Mexican Grill and American Junkie maintain their dress codes have absolutely nothing to do with any kind of religious discrimination.

But, if you are going out you might want to check what the dress code is before heading out.