Two women go viral on TikTok to explain what they were like denied access to a club in Los Angeles earlier this month.
Models Ella Halikas and Alexa Jay said they tried to enter the Hollywood club The Highlight Room, which is owned by Tao Group Hospitality, but were not let in by a bouncer. the different prejudices in nightlife.
“It’s really not even about us anymore. It’s the bigger picture here,” Halikas said ukbusinessupdates.com.
Since discussing their story on TikTok, Halikas said she’s received direct messages and comments from curvy women of all ages, from Miami to New York City.
“We want to share our story with as many people as possible to have that impact,” added Halikas.
In the original video, the couple described being denied entry to a club for what they said was clear discrimination against taller people.
“We’re tired of letting this just happen,” Halikas said in the clip [were] clearly discriminated against. It is very clear.”
TikTok and The Highlight Room
Jay said she was with a large group and was “definitely the biggest in the group”. They had arranged for a birthday party and were let in by a promoter, she said.
“Right when I get to the front, the bouncer puts the rope in front, looks me up and down and says, ‘Yeah, not tonight,'” Jay said. She said NBC news it’s not the first time she’s had to deal with racism or fat phobia in the nightlife scene, but that night she had had enough.
Halikas, a fellow curvy model whom Jay said she had encountered in line, eventually went to the front of the line to find out what was going on, and she was also looked at from head to toe and told “not tonight” by The Bouncer.
The two made a joint video on Halikas’ TikTok page and both are active on the platform. Halikas has over 500,000 followers and Jay has over 78,000. Halikas has been a content creator for many years and a signed model since 2019, she said. She’s been in too Sports illustrated. According to her Instagram, Jay is signed to DT Model Management.
“We’re not letting this fly any longer,” Jay said in the original video. They also advocated a hashtag based on the bouncer’s words, “Not tonight,” which they said another movie was commented dozens of times on The Highlight Room’s Instagram page (comment is now disabled).
The club has faced quite a bit of online backlash. In addition to comments on Instagram, the company has negative reviews about discrimination everywhere (posted after the video). Facebook page until Google reviews, at least according to the models. Halikas claimed in another video that the Google reviews have been removed.
“Absolutely appalling. They discriminate on weight. They should be ashamed of themselves. Would never recommend this place to anyone. Terrible customer service and people skills,” one Facebook user wrote on Nov. 7.
Also, people have left negative reviews on a venue with the same name, The Highlight Room in New York Citycausing other people in the reviews to ask them to stop because it’s not in the same city.
But Tao Group Hospitality actually owns that club in New Yorkalong with several other clubs including TAO and Marquee.
Tao told ukbusinessupdates.com in a statement via email that it is “aware of Ella and Alexa’s experience” and that “the doorman worked for an outside promotional company on this particular night and we have removed this person from the door effective immediately.”
It went on to say that they “made several attempts to resolve the issue directly with Ella and Alexa and even scheduled a meeting within days to discuss their experience, which they unfortunately canceled.”
“Our company does not tolerate any form of discrimination. We are always grateful for feedback on our activities and continue to work to improve our guest experience,” the statement ended.
In response, Halikas told ukbusinessupdates.com that they had initially decided to cancel the meeting with Tao – and that Jay had only spoken to them on the phone once more – because they wanted to try and make the story bigger.
“I think if we met them first it would lessen our frustration, it would dilute the power of the hashtag and what we’re trying to do here,” Halikas said. She went on to say they felt the company was not “empathetic” in their outreach.
She also criticized the idea that removing the bouncer would help. “I mean, I think it’s definitely a step in the right direction,” she said. But it’s not likely to remove the individual from the club scene, she said. “He just keeps bouncing from club to club,” she said.
The pair also said in a follow-up video that they had spoken to the club but were not satisfied with the results.
“So far, we’ve been extremely disappointed with how Highlight Room is handling all of this,” said Jay.
The duo have also said that women have publicly discussed their own stories of nightlife discrimination and they hope to use the situation to pressure Tao and others about the larger issue.
At least one other person has made a video on TikTok discussing evaluation by promoters and club staff. Halikas said via phone review and IRL outreach about the incident ranged from people commenting on her videos that they would never be allowed into her club, to meeting club owners who have pledged to support her.
“We want to talk to the big guys at the top who are making these rules and hiring all these bouncers because ultimately this is up to you,” Halikas said in the follow-up video.
She said she hopes this TikTok moment goes beyond Tao. “Raise your voice and share your story and talk about it,” Halikas said.