Amsterdam club De School has issued a livestreamed Q&A podcast addressing claims of institutional malpractice, including allegations that security guards tried to solicit sexual acts from clubbers found to be carrying drugs. The marquee European nightclub, which operates as a multipurpose venue during the day, is accused of failing to act on various reports of misconduct—which also include racial profiling—while presenting itself as a safe space. In the podcast, the club’s co-owner, programmer, and human resources manager acknowledged certain failures and announced their intention to adjust club policies, personnel, and the complaints process. In an email to Pitchfork, co-owner Jochem Doornbusch confirmed the club will stop working with its security team.
Moderated by Souhayla Ou-Oumar, the podcast was conceived to respond to allegations circulating on social media, Doornbusch said. “Part of it, for me, is taking a step aside and creating space and since I’m the financial manager, creating money and using our building for those purposes and our resources,” said Doornsbusch. He went on say that the club should look into expanding its hiring policies to include more diverse candidates, as part of creating a “new team [and] new structure.”
The first audience member to ask a question, a choreographer, voiced their frustration with the panel, stemming from their lack of commitment to more concrete measures and De School’s status as a club located in Amsterdam-West, a borough with “a narrative of not being a white neighborhood.” Other audience members, including De School employees, took turns at the mic to ask about how the club plans to ensure it will be a safe space for people of color, and how it will book more DJs of color. One initiative put forth by De School was the employment of two BIPOC women who had come forward to management about their concerns: “[The] two [BIPOC] women who demanded a spot in the office are now under contract to work on a new plan,” said the HR manager, identified as Lon.
At the 2:27:45 mark of the broadcast, an audience member raised numerous allegations made by queer patrons of the club: that on multiple instances, De School security guards asked for sexual favors in exchange for declining to report their drug possession to the police. The club management team acknowledged the allegations and said they had not been in touch with the security guards, but that they wanted to prevent such an incident from taking place in the future. “I think we should demand of them working to a certain standard, to give them training.... In a way of working together, so that they see our values,” said Lon. Doornbusch went on, “It’s very ashaming to hear all this, and I have to say that more and more complaints came up in the last few weeks, and I’m also not sure if training is the right thing to do, but we have to be very, very critical.”
An employee of De School went on to ask Doornbusch whether or not the venue planned to keep employing the same security company going forward once the club reopened. The co-owner responded, “That’s hard to say now,” citing the size of the company. “From the heart, it would be definitely no.”
“Then make it a no,” said the employee. “You are the one in charge. You can say yes, or no.” Reached by Pitchfork for further comment, Doornbusch said of the security company: “I regret the way it got decided during the podcast event but obviously we cannot work together anymore.”
Doornbusch also told Pitchfork that a security guard accused of misconduct was let go after an allegation in 2016, when “a club-goer was caught with a big amount of GHB on him.” Doornbusch said: “Local law forces us to call the police in these cases. Allegedly, a security guard offered a sexual exchange for not taking this step. The details of the case were unclear since there were no witnesses and the club-goer didn't want to file a police report. We decided to stop working with this security guard immediately.”
Originally Appeared on Pitchfork