Cracking the code: Race, class, and access to nightclubs in urban America

Reuben A.Buford May, Kenneth Sean Chaplin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using ethnographic data collected in the downtown nightlife of Athens, Georgia, we explore black males' responses to being rejected from nightclubs via dress code enforcement in predominately white settings. We contrast these responses to the general experiences of other black males who gained access. Although race is a factor in the enforcement of dress codes, we find a fluid relationship between race, class, and taste that influences black males' responses and experiences. We illustrate how the nuanced reality of lived racial and class experiences for many young black males problematize the narrow interpretation of a black cultural essence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-72
Number of pages16
JournalQualitative Sociology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Class
  • Dress codes
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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