'You're a man in women's clothing': 22-year-old says he was dress coded for wearing makeup and high heels

Ben Rios says a nightclub in Corpus Christi, Texas wouldn’t allow him inside because he was wearing women’s shoes. The nightclub says that’s not true. (Photo: Facebook/Ben Rios)
Ben Rios says a nightclub in Corpus Christi, Texas wouldn’t allow him inside because he was wearing women’s shoes. The nightclub says that’s not true. (Photo: Facebook/Ben Rios)

A Texas nightclub denies accusations it stopped a gay man wearing stiletto heels and makeup from entering.

On Saturday night, Ben Rios, 22, a retail sales associate, went to VoodDoo Niteclub in Corpus Christi, Texas, for a friend’s birthday party. Outside, he showed his ID card to a host, who allegedly said that Rios — wearing makeup and sparkly silver high heels — was breaking dress code.

“When I arrived, I was stopped at the door and DENIED entry for wearing makeup and wearing heels,” Rios wrote on Facebook Sunday. “…The door guy bluntly said ‘You’re a man, you’re not supposed to be wearing women’s clothing or makeup’ and simply turned [his] back. I refuse to let this go and my voice needs to be heard!”

As a semi-regular VooDoo patron, Rios usually wears jeans, but that night he wanted to dress up. Rios tells Yahoo Lifestyle the employee allowed his friends (who wore jeans and T-shirts) inside, then gave him a look. “He said, ‘You’re out of dress code’ and turned his back to me,” says Rios. “I persisted and he said, ‘You’re a man in women’s clothing.'”

Rios left with his friends. “People asked why I didn’t record anything but it was over in 45 seconds,” he says.

On Monday, Voodoo wrote a Facebook statement to explain why Rios was held up at the door: Over St. Patrick’s Day weekend, two men wearing women’s clothing allegedly entered the club and were allowed to use the women’s restroom. “…these two men pulled out their cell phones and began to record women that were using the facilities,” read VooDoo’s statement. “Several women approached management upset that two men dressed as women were in the women’s restroom recording them without their consent.”

The men left and the women chose to not speak to off-duty police officers working inside the club, said VooDoo. A spokesperson from the Corpus Christi Police Department did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s information request.

VooDoo wrote that when Rios and his friends showed up on Saturday, the employee thought Rios might be one of the culprits because he “matched the description.” He held Rios at the door and called for the manager, but when he arrived, Rios and his friends had left.

“We welcome every customer,” wrote VooDoo. “We do not support any homophobic action in denying our customers entry. We welcome with open arms every race and we welcome anyone regardless of their gender-based clothing. We have men dressed as women all the time come into our club and vice versa. We apologize that this incident occurred. However, it is of the utmost importance that we protect all of our customers while on the premises.

Owner Eddie Dijiali tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “The host could not have explained the reason why this customer was held at the door — we did not want to make him feel guilty for something he may have not done, or have him run if he was, in fact, a suspect.” Dijiali says his employee denies telling Rios that his outfit broke dress code and that Rios is wearing a different outfit in his Facebook post.

VooDoo is adding two unisex bathrooms to make customers more comfortable. “Could the employee have handled it better? Yes,” says Dijiali. “The customer is welcome to come back wearing women’s shoes and makeup.”

The venue called Rios to apologize, but Rios says the employee was non-transparent. “My experience is being treated as a misunderstanding but it wasn’t,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “This was about my clothing.”

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