More than a hundred people participated in a peaceful demonstration against the door policies of Kung Fu Saloon in Uptown on May 21. Led by DeAndre Upshaw, a 26-year-old black man, the crowd gathered at Momo's Italian Restaurant for a rally before walking silently past Kung Fu Saloon around 7:30 pm.
The mostly young, black crowd also attracted people of all ages and races. "I want to take a special moment and thank all the white people who came," Upshaw said. "It may not affect you directly, but it affects your friends."
Upshaw was trying to attend a birthday party for a white friend at Kung Fu Saloon on May 18 when he was turned away at the door for violating a then-unposted dress code. In response to Upshaw's outrage, and the fact that unwritten dress codes are against local laws, Kung Fu Saloon released its rules for attire on May 20.
Kung Fu Saloon's former event coordinator says the arcade bar refuses reservations to people "with ethnic-sounding names."
Kung Fu Saloon also operates arcade bars in Houston and Austin, where allegations of racist door policies have repeatedly surfaced.
Thomas Collier, 42, was one of hundreds of Dallas residents who attended the event at Momo's. "For me personally as a black person, I've never really truly experienced hard-core racism, but the reason I came out tonight is because I am interested in other people's points of view and their experiences and perceptions of what racism is."
Upshaw said his goal for the movement, which has spawned the highly popular hashtag #NoKungFu, is three-fold. He wants Kung Fu Saloon to acknowledge that it has denied people entry based on their race, follow the law and publicly post its dress code, and he wants the City of Dallas to be active in enforcing its laws of nondiscrimination at bars in Uptown.
Upshaw was joined by Stephanie Guidry, a former employee of Kung Fu Saloon. She said as the event coordinator, she was asked to tell people with "ethnic-sounding names" that there were no reservations available. "There is a screening process in place," Guidry said, drawing gasps from the crowd.
A local DJ also spoke, saying that while on the job at Uptown bars, he's been asked to take racially motivated action. "If too many black people are coming in and dancing, management asks me to change the music so they'll leave," he said.
Joseph De Leon, a popular nightlife photographer, said his Uptown gigs often come with troubling instructions. "I have absolutely been asked not to take pictures of black people at events," he said.
As the crowd prepared for its march past Kung Fu Saloon, Upshaw reinforced that it would be a silent walk, not a loud protest. And then he summed up the evening's theme: "We have had enough of discrimination in Uptown."