The end of my love affair with Bubbles O’ Leary’s

When 8.00 pm found me in the area code, I decided to pass by Bubbles O’ Leary’s and have a peek. There were about two females and two male guards at the entrance. As I was about to open my bag for them to check it, one male guard snapped at me:

“Gwe Nyabo! Oyagala chi?” (You woman! What do you want?)

Astounded, I simply stared at him.

“I’m asking you! Who do you know inside there?” he growled, in Luganda.

“Why are you talking to me like this?” I asked him quietly.

His demeanor grew in hostility. The source of the contempt on his face was a mystery to me. I stared a little bit harder.

“Me, I’m asking you, who do you know inside there? What do you want?!” he said again, in Luganda.

I wondered why he wasn’t speaking to me in English. Why he was assuming I was a Muganda. Last I heard, I looked like a Kenyan. A Rwandese sometimes. What was this Luganda business?

“Why are talking to me like this?” I asked again. He was clearly losing his temper as he demanded again to know what I wanted. I heard another security guard snicker. My situation was starting to draw the attention of witnesses.

“Right now, nothing”, I replied. “I’m going to walk away, and come back to speak with someone in upper management”.

“Kaale, genda! Genda!” he sneered. (It’s okay. You go!)

As I tremblingly walked away, I heard a voice say, “Abakyala abayagala Abazungu” (These women want white men)

I thought it was the guard but as he later denied it vehemently enough to sound truthful, I assume it was someone else who said these words.

I found my five friends having dinner at the Bistro restaurant in Kisementi and it took me a whole three minutes to collect myself. I felt demeaned. I felt abused. I felt really really bad. Color me crazy, but I also found myself trying very hard not to cry. I am not exaggerating when I say that I was almost having a panic attack.

“I’M NOT GOING TO LOSE IT IN THIS FANCY RESTAURANT!” I repeated in my head, like a mantra.

“I’ve had a really upsetting experience at Bubbles”, I eventually gasped, before I haltingly told my friends what had transpired. In a matter of minutes, I had the number of Peter, the manager, in my phone, and had made an appointment to see him that same night.

Over the phone, I had asked Peter if there was an invite only event going down at Bubbles to explain at least part of the craziness I had been subjected to. He had said, ‘there is an event, yes’.

Well, we thought, if there was, was it difficult for the guard so say with a sympathetic grin, “I’m sorry but do you know someone inside? This is an invite only party”.

Upon further research, Bubbles lost that lifeline. When my friends checked it up on Facebook, it was an open event for the public. Just another great crazy weekend at Bubbles.

I was told Peter was a great guy, so the whole thing must be a misunderstanding. One of my friends, Shawn (a non-Ugandan) even begun celebrating.

“You know what’s gonna happen, right?” he crowed. “No manager needs his security chasing away customers. He’s gonna let us all in for free, and offer us a round of drinks on the house!”

We smacked our lips happily. Heh! Kumbe! We were about to get served.

We found Peter, to his credit, already waiting at the entrance with the guard who had so frightened me. We’ll call him Guard 1. He had a colleague with him who I shall call Guard 2.

When I told Peter what had happened, he said-

Wait! Are you sitting down, dear reader? You need to be sitting down to continue this story. If you have a glass or a cup of something in your hand, place it upon the table before you resume, there’s a dear. Okay, back to what Peter said.

“We have a problem with some of the people that come here. It can get really crowded sometimes”, he explained. “So these guys decide who can and cannot enter”.

It registered in my head what Peter had said. Like a slap in the face. These guards had the mandate to decide I wasn’t the kind of person they wanted in Bubbles just by LOOKING at me?

My friend Grace, shocked, asked Peter, “What’s your screening process? How do your security decide who can and cannot enter Bubbles?”

Guard 1 said, “I was not even rude to her. I just called her ‘Nyabo’. That is a term of respect here in Uganda”.

My friend James retorted, “There is nothing respectful about saying ‘Gwe Nyabo!’”.

Guard 2 interjected with, “I was sitting quietly in a corner and witnessed the whole thing. She was only asked politely what she wanted and who she knew inside. All she had to do was answer. Her behavior, saying she was going to look for upper management, was not good! The way she said she was going to do that is not good!”

Did this guy just say, in front of the manager, that all I had to was tell them what I wanted, and who I knew inside? I peered at the exterior of Bubbles curiously. Was Beyonce inside?

My friend Mary, genuinely curious, asked Guard 2, “But why would you ask her what she wants? This is a bar! Clearly she’s here to buy a drink. So WHY would you even ask her?”

Grace was equally baffled. “Why do you think she was here?” she demanded. “You put the event up on Facebook, asking people to come. You think she was confused and just happened to show up at your doorstep?”

Peter tried (and failed) to be helpful again.

“Well, these guys were here and I wasn’t”, he said. “I didn’t see what transpired. But it’s okay to select who gets to enter a bar. I’ve been all over the world and I’ve seen it happen”.

Shawn wasn’t having this, no sir.

“In some countries, women can’t drive. That doesn’t make it right” he protested.

“Yeah, but these guys have been working here eight years”, Oliver said again. “They know what they’re doing”.

I asked the one question that needed asking.

“Do you ask everybody what they want when they show up here?”

“Yes” Guard 1 said.

“Oh, cut the crap!” Shawn exploded. “No one has ever stopped me when I’m entering this bar. Why don’t we call this what it is? It’s a matter of black and white!”

That would be one way to look at it.

“That’s not true”, Peter protested. “There are many black people in this bar”.

Shawn and I stood aside to share a private giggle at this ludicrous situation.

“Sometimes we have hundreds of people here”, Ollie continued. “These guys get to keep control to prevent chaos”.

Chaos at 8.00 pm? If you say so.

“But why Lindsey?” Mary was insisting. She swept her arms in my direction in case the guards had forgotten who I was. “What is it about her that made your guards decide to interrogate her? Is she a threat? If so, how?”

Grace asked again, “Peter! You’re not answering my simple question. What exactly is your screening process?”

Thankfully, Guard 1 told us what’s up.

“How would you like it if someone stole your bag?” he asked Mary.

“You know, some women can also be prostitutes”, Guard 2 said.

Ah. So I looked like a thief and a prostitute.

The other two female security guards were now up and running their mouths about ‘this troublesome girl’ who did not know her place, refusing to respect rules, defending their male colleagues strongly. A boda-boda man nearby came in to defend his friends. I and mine were being hated on roundly.

And the manager was standing firm with his people, I was starting to realize.

“Okay. Let’s stop wasting time”, Grace announced. “Clearly, you guys see nothing wrong with what’s happened here tonight. So for the record, you want us to know that you, security, will look at someone, and decide that you do not want them in your bar?”

“Yes”, Guard 2 said, firmly, with management nodding away in support. “It is our right”.

MESSAGE TO ALL BUSINESS OWNERS

STOP giving your security the right to abuse the very customers that are walking into your premises.  It is becoming a common phenomenon for establishments to treat customers like they are doing them a favor letting them in the door.

You’re really not.

MESSAGE TO INDIVIDUALS

Stop giving security guards the power to make you feel less than you are. If a guard disrespects you, demand an apology from that guard via management and if it doesn’t come, assume that the management of the establishment deems you unworthy of respect. Don’t go there again.

MESSAGE TO BUBBLES MANAGEMENT

I believe your security treated me like they did because I was a lone black female who did not look like-oba what?

If I’d had a man by my side, I’d never have been questioned. If I’d come with friends, I’d never have been questioned. If I’d been all geeky, texting away on a gadget, I may never have been questioned. And here’s the most ironic bit: If I’d come made up to the nines in six inch heels and actually been a whore, I’d never have been questioned!

But boring ol’ Lindsey, dressed super casually with flat shoes that kept her ‘grounded’?

Your security made a split second decision that I was an uneducated thief from a nearby slum who did not speak English, who was going to pick pockets, and who was going to disturb your white men, when I clearly was not their type.

You collection of assholes. I shall not be disrespected because I don’t look classy enough. Or wealthy enough. Because my hair is short and natural, and I don’t have a little black dress and fancy high heels. Because all of a sudden, after years of being a loyal customer, you have a fucking TYPE and I’m not it anymore.

Because your security were on a power trip and decided to treat with derision the little ‘local’ woman who they thought couldn’t fight back.

Please know you all made a mistake. Here’s me fighting back. Tell your security, since they are the ‘real’ management, that this thieving, broke-ass, white-man-hunting heifer got their message loud and clear. Barring a collection of major miracles, wrapped up neat in a box with a chocolate and a dildo on top, I am NEVER entering Bubbles O’ Leary’s again.

May this post also help you with your crowd control issues.

158 thoughts on “The end of my love affair with Bubbles O’ Leary’s”

  1. Though this an interesting read, am sorry about your mishap and you deserved an apology. But this happens everywhere at Panamera bar its worse(you could get beaten or taken to a”cell), I was once stopped from entering Big Mikes too but I later learnt it was capacity reasons. There’s always a reason erry’where maybe not passed on rightly to the patrons Sometimes retaliation doesn’t work well with these security guys especially if you play smart, however rude they are just go about your b’ness as if u came to party. Now that they’ve been burned bet they’r alert to treat patrons better. But again there are 1026 legally registered bars in Uganda, find solace somewhere else.

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  2. OMG, the same exact thing happened to me when i went there. I actually went to meet my friends who were already in. The guards rudely asked me what i wanted there and who i wanted to see. I said i had some friends already in but they told me its a private party. However, that was unlikely since my friends were aready in and there was a football match we were to watch. I told him that but he refused to let me in and i was told i should go to banda or casablanca to watch from there. I was in shock. The guard literary told me that the pub is not for people like and i cant afford it, i couldnt believe myself. Theres a white lady who just came in and enterred without being questioned or checked. I caled one of my friends who was already in and she came up to pick me. When they saw she was white, they asked me why i didnt say i was therr to meet the bazugus, i was stunned. I decided not to go in, i expained what happened to my friends who were so appalled by it too. We all decided to go to big mikes were he had a much better reception. I havr no idea why they do that, but those guards shoud be arrested for promoting racism. If we are not careful, we may experience apartheid without knowin it.

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    1. And the way people are still calling me all sorts of names for telling the truth like it is. If I’d known about your story before I wrote it, I’d have included it in my blog post. Shameful. It was obvious that if I’d been white, my treatment would never have happened. Sorry about that.

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      1. Just dimwits, dont worry about that, am glad this came out coz i thought i was the only one who went through that experience.

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  3. Never been there. Never will. But, it speaks to your character too that you chose to ignore questions being posed by security. A simple “I don’t know anyone but I just wanna have a drink” wouldn’t have hurt. It seems pompous you decided to escalate the matter.

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    1. I found your comment so contemptous that I chose to ignore it. But I would like you to read Sharon’s comment above when she was similarly questioned, and imagine if my situation would have improved had I been more compliant with their interrogations. Remember, I had no one I was going to meet inside.

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  4. I’m sure you are a well-intentioned young woman who only wanted to make people aware of your humiliation, but in the meantime created an issue MUCH BIGGER THAN YOU that you have spun out of control.
    I’m not quite sure what the purpose is of this article. It seems to be written in a state of rage, humiliation, and revenge. I can understand why. You were hurt, they treated you with disrespect, and judged you just by your outward appearance. However, Bubbles needs to check bags. You conveniently left out some details of your story, which if they were added, wouldn’t make you seem as much of a victim.
    You have gotten your revenge on Bubbles. Not only have the trollers out there given you more momentum, but you have accomplished the not so difficult task of having the Ugandan press, both legitimate and illegitimate to support your “cause”. Have you thought about the other people unrelated to this story that are being affected? The other employees of Bubbles who were not part of your story but now are suffering the backlash? Pictures, more articles of people that weren’t even there that day?
    Of course you haven’t; the original and primary intent of this article was ABOUT YOU. You didn’t consider the outcome of something like this. Now that you are a popular figure, this blog maybe giving more opportunities for you to spread hate are you satisfied? Because as you speak more and more, those employees of Bubbles, just trying to stay out of the publicity (unlike you) are trying to work and maintain their lives without harassment, again caused by you.

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    1. 1.please fill me in on the convinient details i left out.
      2.i didnt have a bag.i had a really tiny tote bag which i had actually opened for checking when the guard shouted at me.
      3.dont be the person that attacks a rape victim for reporting her attacker and thereby affecting his family.hold bubbles responsible without having the audacity to make me carry the blame. This is on them.
      4.finally, there are too many other victims for anyone to suggest im a hater.

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    2. Lol Leah this is her personal blog. If she can’t post the ish that drives her crazy or makes her day here then where should she post it!? Of course it’s about her. And why shouldn’t it be?

      The manager had a chance to mend the fence but he chose not to. Where’s your outrage at him not thinking about his employees? It is in his job description, no?

      So stop trying to make her feel even worse about her experience & maybe call for Bubbles mgmt to do something about their security procedures.

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  5. Me and my Cuz Ian used to run roings across bar’s in town, and every time we got invited to this shitty place we passed, Y? Coz we always hard shitty racism vibz about this place and it’s top management. 20 years down the road I’ve never stepped inside that shit hole. I would advise anyone else to follow suite.

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  6. Wwwwhaaaaaat????
    Kukunda and all of you Ugandans (blacks) that have been discriminated againt at Bubbles, please file your testimonies with Internal Affairs or email them to me officially. Black people may be segregated against in Western countries but we shall not allow this to happen in our country (your home). I have had rumours of this crap but I thought it was just fantasy talk. It reminds me of that NBA Clippers’ idiot. I have worked with all sorts of people around the world and know how blacks are perceived in many foreign circles. We can’t let this happen in our own home. If any of you has evidence or is willing to give testimony to racial profiling at this ‘BUBBLES’ place, please email me. We shall have this place CLOSED and their business licence revoked. Let’s quit the passive attitude and act against racism in our country.

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  7. Have to commend the writer great post lovely ending.
    O’learys has always been racist pub what takes people there beats my understanding.
    Lousy ambiance,shitty toilets, bad service and not to mention Racists A-holes.

    Stopped going there over 5 years ago and I bet I don’t miss much, save for the racism experiences.

    Fuck O’learys may the bar burn down when there are no patrons.

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  8. And going by your polished language, I doubt self esteem is the biggest of your worries… you need to buy a life nyabo! you and your tramp brigade!

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  9. what a rant… calm your shit down young lady. You look like a tramp, you dress like a tramp AND (by your own admission) you know it… then you shit bricks all over the place because security treated you like one??? it’s always easy to spot a low brow wannabe… tell me you ACTUALLY went back just to ‘hand it’ to security… real classy there missus!

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  10. I went to bubbles last year and the Dj wanted to turn off the tv while we were watching a match coz the Irish guys were watching rugby, what a laugh. We told him off and he just walked off. Not the best bar to me anyway, Big Mikes next door is far much better.

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  11. I am flabbergasted, disgusted, and at a loss for words. I don’t know who is more of scum…the male peanut paid self appointed managers disguised as illiterate guards, or the female guards supporting them like stupid old hags. And then the manager…..please, where is Iddi Amin! We need uganda to be returned to us. We can tolerate racism in other countries coz its not our home. But when its happening at home too…….someones gotta do summin

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  12. Great blog! Nicely written with all the details, this way it gives a good overview of such a situation, especially the little details which are the most significant. I wonder to what extend this is an issue of racism since it concerns guards and customers of the same color. I do agree white people might enter more easily but wouldn’t this be because of the guards (stupid) assumption that white people have more money to spent? I have a feeling when it comes to enter the place or to pay the entrance fee it is depending on your wallet. When I visited the place with Ugandan friends (regular visitors who spent) I did not have to pay the entrance fee but visiting on my own I had to pay (not regular customer). Other weird thing, my Ugandan husband (non-rasta) always has to pay the entrance fee while other friends (rasta’s who hardly spent) just enter. So not sure how much color is involved but I’m lost with the judgement of the guards. Clearly they have a lot of assumptions and treat people depending on the mood they have.. I’m sorry for your experience and their stupid assumptions and behavior. Unfortunaly the world has a lot of idiots, no matter the color.

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    1. My thoughts exactly. Those here with chants of ‘let those white guys go back to their countries’ are the ones being racists.
      Bouncers are the same anywhere in the world, mindless assholes.
      The ones at bubbles are guilty of prejudice of their own people

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  13. i just don’t like the way black people tend to mistreat their fellow black people,same colour same country probably the same tribe but then u treat the other as trash mostly those guards,bar attenders and waiters of some of the bars around kampala…
    anyway i dont blame them they dont think beyond their noses.
    Goverment etuyambe all the guards ,bar attenders working in some hangout joints should be taken for some Patriotism crusade ,,,mayb they will behave better next time….
    that’s so mean of Ollie makes me think Ollie’s not different from those guards the only difference is colour i assume ,,,,,,,,,but the rest upstairs their think same..

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  14. Lindsay ya so right about the racism issue at bubbles. let those white guys go back to their countries and practice racism from there not from our country. Had countless instances where am not served in such places because am alone and black. I pity those uncouth guards who think they will go to europe with their racist bosses. I am not going back to bubbles again

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  15. Heya, I am super sorry about your experience at that venue. It should be unheard of being picked on like that.
    I was wondering whether I could use an extract from your blog for my dissertation which is on social media. If my email is fainembabazi@gmail.com

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  16. I’m on holiday visiting home… Since my friends & I are black… Sorry I can’t visit this Irish shit hole in our Country.

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  17. Some of these whites who mistreat blacks here are rejects in there own countries ,they come here n turn into small gods when actually they r criminals back home .We should stand out n fight this kind of arrogance,shun their businesses n even deport them .

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  18. What surprises me in this country is we the locals aka blacks seem to love places patronised by whites and yet we ain’t treated with dignity, its a something i have heard repeated so often yet we do nothing about it. I can assure you that nonsense would not be permitted in Nigeria.If we are timid then maybe we should vote with our feet and wallets, simply shun the place!!!

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    1. read the article again you dimwit… it had nothing to do with colour… she just looked like a tramp! take your insecurities someplace else…. temutukooya!!

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      1. Ur the dimwit u stupid dog hu cant read right,she wasnt dressed like atramp!!!!do u even knw what tramp means…….get someone to read and explain this whole thing to u!!!!!clearly ur aspecial kind of stupid

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  19. You have every right Lindsey to walk away and never return, that was disrespectful! Wonder where our world is going with all this…”you look like a so and so” so we can keep you or reject you. For a bar this is more than laughable. Just feeling for you, must have felt really embarrassed by especially the first encounter with the guards, as for the second I think Ollie needs services of the likes of Ethan Musolini or Baake Tumuhaise.

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  20. mmmmmm bad experience, i`ve heard many people talk about the racism issue in that pub. especially for waiters who do not serve blacks, for that reason its off my list if am thinking of hanging out, there are many nice pubs around these days, am sure u can avoid that treatment by forgetting the place even exists

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  21. These things are traumatizing when you experience them.that feeling you get when waitress decides to serve someone else over you coz of color. I don’t feel like talking about this anymore. I have never been to bubbles but am not going there on any attempt

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  22. Sabine Kirabo Michiels “Really enjoyed reading such a well written, thoughful no bullshit blog! And totally share the frustration. Having said that, i can guarantee having travelled all over the world, bouncers/security guards are a dumb breed on their own (hate to say) and they are all the same wherever you go. In Europe they’ll let you into a club only if you look like a model or are in a group of hot lookin babes. However, i wonder, arent some LEGAL issues here to be considered, apart from discrimination, i’m thinking defamation, and whether bars/clubs who HAVE some kind of a screening policy shouldn’t post this somewhere at the entrance like “we don’t allow people dressed a certain way, of a certan colour, breed, height, economic status, gender, etc etc. I’m sure there’s something legal you could throw at them somehow…worth perhaps checking it out for others commenting on Blog. Also, totally worth sharing with Red Pepper and why not New Vision and if you really want to be provocative, why not post on Muzungus in Uganda Facebook page… see what happens”

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  23. Don’t ask me why I prefer spending my little monies along Kampala Road and in pork bufundas around Wandegeya…reason is…I hate Kololo racists…

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  24. personally, I never really take time commenting on posts lime this but am intrigued by this one,basically because I was a huge bubbles fan! now I hate it with every bit of me because of their racist ways!! on one occasion I tried to talk to the security on my way out about the racism on bubbles! they just waved me off like they dont give a shit the opinion of a black women!you wait really long at the counter to get served like the money held by a black hand is different from that of the white hand! let them go to hell!

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  25. I like that u have forewarned us Lindsey esp since its at tymz easier 2 just meet at d venue. So that’s wat wd b happening 2 us if we got there single n plain??!! M another addition Lindsey, never 2 b there again! We hav a ryt 2 spend our moni wea its well deserved.

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  26. that was bad.2years back i had friends who were back home on holiday and they decided to go to Bubbles and guess wat they werent served coz they were black waiters and waitresses just kept ignoring them.it was so bad in our own country? really and it s not the first time its happening. a daughter of one of the Nrm historicals wuz name i wont mention came to Bubbles that very same place and they denied her service claiming she was a prostitute

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  27. Kati my favourite bit was. ..’ you collection of assholes’…lol. cdnt help myself. Me I will divorce my man if he returns to that dump!
    As for Amon mouse…must belong to that collection. Don’t excuse such behaviour as sets us decades back please. What next after bars? ?Churches for the white and wealthy only? !!!!!
    Sorry lindsey. Never going back. Too crowded n smelly anyway. ..but I guess not for long

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  28. this is sad, but that racist bounce has always been an issue in some places especially @ bubbles.. Crowd isn’t even that interesting.. msteew

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  29. Wow, I’ve always loved Bubbles but to hell with that if that’s the way they treat people. Good for you for standing your ground. It’s the only way to get anything to change.

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    1. Jeff, it’s like you haven’t read the post. she wasn’t even dressed like a ‘ho’. That’s the baffling bit. She was dressed normally. If was dressed like a ‘ho’ she would have gotten in, no questions asked.

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  30. YEP! BUBBLES SUCKS!! They are racists in our very own country. If it were a white lady dressed the way you had been dressed, they would have welcomed you with open hands. I have had a similar experience in that lousy pub, and years and years go by,same thing still goes on. OK, are we going to sit by and let this visitors treat us this way in our very own country? As for the security guards, they are way below to earn a section in my comment.

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  31. For anyone that thinks this story is made up and that the writer is lying (even though few) let me vouch for her. Not because I know her but because I have experiences this exact same thing and from both ends of the stick. I have been to bubbles with white friends and not been troubled to get in and for the longest time I didn’t even realise what was happening until I was going out there with all black friends and they decided that if asked questions I should speak because I have am ‘accent’. To my amazement me and my friends got in free when asked to search our bags and for the friends that came behind us a few minutes later they had to pay to get in and for the few times I went by myself the bouncers tried it with me but once I spoke they were like ok madam you go in. So yes bubbles and it’s management are unfair in their treatment of people (black people) bubbles has been dead to me for many years now and will continue to remain so.

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  32. The irony is, several of their female patrons ARE prostitutes and they KNOW it. Why it became an issue when you came along beats me. But, hey, like you said, maybe if you’d come dressed the part, just maybe..
    Thank you for this.

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  33. Those guys make enough money from selling coke in there that they wont actually feel the pinch of 50 people staying away. Its like crooklyn in there, so you didnt miss much.

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