Thu Mar 19 2009
This is a beef with the idiotic sneaker rule that is turning up more and more often in bars across the city. WTF? It ain't the footwear that's the problem, it's the dull, pretentious bar owners and their slough of thick-headed bouncers who are keeping the more fashionable, less famous folk from enjoying NY nightlife. I'm not just talking about the high-end joints, I'm talking about the piece-of-shit bars that you wouldn't piss on if they were on fire, like an Egyptian bar in a dirty basement on West 44th Street. No sneakers? What? Ben H., Harlem
Just how selective are bars about shoes? We threw on a pair of black Converse and made the rounds. We tried the Moroccan (not Egyptian) Kemia Bar (630 Ninth Ave at 44th St; 212-582-3200, kemiabarny.com); despite its subterranean location next to another building's service entrance, the establishment is still classy enoughto warrant a "no sneakers" rule. "If there's a party of 30 guests, and one of the guests comes in wearing sneakers, it doesn't matter if the other 29 are in," a Kemia waitress told us, "They don't let the one person in." When we tried to sneak in, the diminutive female bouncer, who sported pumps and a lollipop, said smudged Chuck Taylors weren't appropriate. She advised changing the footwear before returning.
On the swankier side of town, Grand Central's Campbell Apartment (420 Lexington Ave between 42nd and 43rd Sts; 212-242-7336, hospitalityholdings.com) advertises "Cocktails from another era," as in an era when women wore pearls and before black ties were paired with black Cons (jeans on men, however, are passable). The hostess grimaced at the casual shoes and immediately pointed towards the exit.
Not all dress codes are strictly enforced, however. The Webster Hall weekend nightclub (125 E 11th St between Third and Fourth Aves; 212-353-1600, websterhall.com) claims to have a rigid "dress to impress" policy—their pre-recorded phone message specifically forbids sneakers, Timberlands, Steve Madden shoes, Uggs, hats and do-rags—but my high-tops presented no problem. "You want to look neat and presentable," receptionist Cassandra Held told us. "We want people to look sexy." So your best bet is to wear what you want, pick your bars carefully, and remember to pack the sexy.—Kyle McGovern
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