A group of American football stars claim they were rejected from entering one of London’s most prestigious nightclubs on the grounds that they were “too urban”.
Four members of the New Orleans Saints and two friends had booked a table at Cirque le Soir nightclub in Soho, but were reportedly told by the bouncers that they could not enter because they were “six big guys” who were “too urban” — a word often used in relation to being black.
Cirque le Soir, a favourite with celebrities including Rihanna, Kanye West and Leonardo DiCaprio, has since denied it “would turn anyone away on the basis of their ethnicity”, adding that admitting an all-male group simply goes against the club's door policy.
But in a series of tweets, running back Mark Ingram said they pulled up to nightclub where they had reservations, only to be rejected on the door because they were “six big guys” who were “too urban”.
Highlighting the fact that none of them are taller than 5’11, Ingram then posted a photograph of the group along with the caption: “Is this what 6 big ‘too urban’ guys look like?!”
After Ingram's tweets, the team received a wave of support on Twitter and the hashtag “#TooUrban” began trending.
One Twitter user wrote: “London’s pretentious nightclub policy has hit peak level when NFL players can't get in.”
Another tweeted: “It's a shame people still have a perception of people they don't even know.”
In response to the influx of supportive tweets, Ingram later wrote: “Thanks to everyone who has reached out to us! Stereotyping and discrimination are real in our world. Never let anyone define you!”
The players were visiting the UK ahead of their October game at Wembley against the Miami Dolphins.
Ingram added that despite their alleged mistreatment in the capital, the team was still looking forward to playing in London in the autumn.
“Gonna be crazy experience and I’m excited about it. I [love] England! [...] This was our first #TooUrban encounter entire trip,” he said on Twitter.
In response to the outrage, Cirque le Soir told The Times: “All of the team at Cirque le Soir are really upset by the suggestion that there was anything malicious in our turning away of Mark Ingram and his friends. We proudly celebrate diversity, not only as part of our shows, but as part of who we are.
“We would not dismiss anyone as ‘too urban’ and we would not turn anyone away on the basis of their ethnicity, sexuality or any other characteristic, other than those expressed in our door policy.
“Admitting an all-male group goes against our policy and is clearly stated on Facebook and on all reservation confirmation emails.”