Metro Weekly

Bunker DC Updates Its Dress Code, Will Not Ban High Heels

D.C.'s newest LGBTQ dance club has clarified its dress code, saying it discourages, but will not outright ban, people from wearing high heels.

Entrance to Bunker – Photo by Todd Franson

Bunker, the newly opened D.C. dance club at 2001 14th St. NW has clarified its dress code after being criticized on social media for a post on its website discouraging the wearing of certain types of footwear.

In a statement on its website, Bunker initially wrote, “For customer safety, no high heels, open-toed shoes, or flip flips are allowed on the premises.”

Some on social media criticized that statement, arguing that the “ban” on certain types of footwear — namely high heels — appeared to be aimed at preventing women, and queer-identifying, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming individuals, from entering the club, ostensibly in favor of cisgender, gender-conforming gay men.

Metro Weekly reached out to the managing partners of Bunker, and to the Mayor’s Office of Nightlife and Culture and its director, Salah Czapary, about these concerns, including the legal ability of venues to set specific dress codes involving clothing traditionally associated with one gender.

In response, Q, a managing partner at Bunker, told Metro Weekly in a statement that the prohibition on certain footwear was adopted out of concern for the safety of patrons.

“We recently implemented a no high heels and open-toed shoes policy at Bunker as a safety precaution,” Q wrote in an email. “Bunker is a dimly lit, underground dance club with concrete floors and steps. Our intention was to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

“However, we have heard the feedback from our community loud and clear, and while we will continue to strongly discourage the wearing of high heels for safety reasons, we will not prevent patrons from wearing them.”

A request for comment from the Mayor’s Office of Nightlife and Culture was not returned as of press time. 

Bunker has also clarified its policy on the “Frequently Asked Questions” page of its website.

“Bunker welcomes the attire of all gender identities and expressions,” a statement reads. “However, Bunker is a dimly lit, underground dance club with concrete floors and steps. As a safety precaution, we strongly discourage the wearing of high heels. Open-toed shoes are prohibited.

“Bunker was created to be an inclusive space that welcomes everyone, specifically the LGBTQ+community,” the statement continues. “Intolerance, harassment, or discrimination of any kind will never be allowed, by management, staff or patrons. Our programming is designed to create a safe space for all to have fun and feel welcome.”

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