Carboz stands by dress code violations

By Gus Bode

Some question code’s racial motives

Walk through the entrance of Carboz Nightclub, turn right and on the wall hangs what some people in Carbondale call a racially intolerant sign:the nightclub’s dress code.

After Carboz refused to open its doors March 20 due to overcrowding, one of the reasons the club’s employees said they were refusing admittance was because of dress-code violations.


Some people, such as members of the Black Affairs Council, took exception with the dress code. The council went so far as to distribute a flyer last week that asked:”When Carboz, a sports bar, tells its patrons that T-shirts and jerseys are not allowed, who do you think they are targeting?”

Carboz owner Brian Callahan has defended his club’s dress code through his claim that Carboz is not a sports bar; it is a nightclub.

“All the nightclubs have dress codes,” Callahan said. “That’s a standard in the industry. It’s not like Carboz is stepping outside the standard dress code grounds to alienate black customers.”

Carboz’s dress code sign prohibits jerseys of any kind, tilted hats or visors, head wraps and bandanas, stocking caps, untailored clothes, unlaced shoes and athletic attire such as sweatpants, hooded sweatshirts and jump suits. Tank-top shirts are also not allowed on men.

D.J. Struckman, a manager at Carboz, said the nightclub enforces its dress code strictly, except for in the winter time when sweatshirts might come in handy.

“With hooded sweatshirts, we’ll kind of let that go when it’s cold because so many people have to walk.” Struckman said.

Carboz is not the only entertainment venue in Carbondale with a dress code posted on its wall.


Stix Bar & Billiards, which is on South Illinois Avenue, has a dress code sign that prohibits do-rags, head bands, backpacks and large bags. All hats and visors must be worn straight forward or straight backward.

While establishments such as Carboz and Stix post such restrictions on clothing, some people, such as SIUC senior Deandre James, question not the possible racial motives behind the dress code, but how practical it is in a college town such as Carbondale.

“With the racial issue, it’s a little overdrawn on both sides, from my perspective,” James said. “I’m an African-American male, and I’ve been to Carboz quite a bit.

“But you’re in a college town. Everybody doesn’t have clothes that come that way. They’re just out trying to have a good time. Your environment details what you’re going to get. So you have to understand you’re in a college town, and those rules need not apply.”

Callahan and Carboz employees contend that they are not trying to discriminate against black students and that all they are trying to do is give Carbondale a nightclub with a bigger city atmosphere.

Other businesses, such as Pinch Penny Pub, Hangar 9 and Mugsy McGuire’s, see no need for a dress code at their establishments.

“The game’s competitive enough as it is,” said Pinch Penny Pub manager James Karayiannis.

Karayiannis said although he does not believe a dress code is right for his business, he sympathizes with Callahan for wanting to run a true nightclub.

“In places like Chicago, it’s not as big a deal,” Karayiannis said. “When you’re the only guy, it’s tough. [Callahan] is just trying to stay true to what nightclubs do. He has a coat check. Nobody else has got a coat check. Coat checks are a nightclub thing.”