Let me begin this post with a simple fact: I love Brooklyn. I love the distinctive fashion, architecture, culture, and music each neighborhood of Brooklyn brings. I love the part of my train ride home when I emerge from the tunnel after Carroll Street and can look back on the famous Manhattan skyline. I love the weekends when I can forgo my reliance on the subway system and ride my bike wherever I need to go. I love that people can strap on their baby bjorn or stroller their newborn right into a bar and no one blinks an eye. I love that you can be as dressed up as our neighbor Manhattanites or as casual as jeans and a pair of Birkenstocks and still dine at the same restaurant…well…at least that’s what I thought.
A new beer garden opened in my neighborhood this summer, but it wasn’t until this past weekend I finally got to fully experience the 13,000 square feet of converted auto body shop space. Yes, you read right, an auto body shop turned bar using repurposed shipping containers and palettes for decoration. Cool, right? And yes, I know, tres Brooklyn. However it was very un-Brooklyn to learn from the bar’s security that there is a dress code enforced after 9pm, “No hats.” I was flabbergasted to hear this. This is a prime reason why I love Brooklyn: no dress codes! This rule didn’t seem like such a big deal until 9 o’clock rolled around and my friend was forced to reveal his hat hair, yet, as I glanced around the bar I saw there were plenty of people still doning their headwear. How can this be fair? I went to investigate.
After some research, I came to find that due to past events with “hoodlums” in the neighborhood, baseball hats and sports jerseys were not permitted INSIDE the bar after 9pm but all other headwear (even knitted panda bear beanies) were allowed to be worn and stay inside. Strange clothing criteria considering every flatscreen in the place was tuned to either a baseball or football game, in addition to the abounding advertisements promoting chicken wing and happy hour specials for Monday Night Football. No, this “dress code” is not some secret vendetta against sports fans, it is a pretext of discrimination against certain social and economic statuses in the neighborhood.
The context of this “anti-hoodlum dress code” is disconcerting and does not sit well in my love ode to Brooklyn. The discriminatory implications of the “no hats after 9pm” is hardly Plessy v. Ferguson, but the denouement of this rule ultimately leaves the “hoodlum” wardrobe wearers outside in the cold looking in on the fedoras, beanies, and newsboy caps.
I guess it’s true that with change comes some form of melancholy; I just hope this particular beer garden doesn’t start a new trend in the Brooklyn bar scene. I guess next time I venture over there I’ll tell my friend that he can bring his 2-year-old daughter but he better leave his jerseys and baseball hats at home.