You can’t twerk here, at least not until New Year’s Eve. That’s the message from True Kitchen and Kocktails, a Black-owned restaurant in Dallas that became meme fodder over the weekend when footage of the restaurant’s owner shouting at patrons for twerking went viral.
In a video posted to Twitter on Sunday, True’s owner, Kevin Kelley, is seen lambasting customers who were dancing and causing a commotion in the restaurant. According to one account, the excitement was spurned by the restaurant DJ playing “Throw That Ass In A Circle” by Dallas rapper Lil Ronny MothaF. Twerk anthem? Yes, but according to Kelley, not on his furniture.
“I invested a lot of money into buying this building, into developing this concept, so Black people can have somewhere nice to go to,” Kelley said. “Somewhere we can feel good about ourselves... as a culture. All this twerking shit... don’t bring it here, because we’re a restaurant.”
Sure, fair enough. One video shows someone literally standing on the furniture, leaning against the restaurant’s glass window, and twerking while people were eating their shrimp and grits. Asking patrons not to stand on his seats is a sensible request. Unfortunately, instead of leaving it at that, he delivered a speech steeped in bullshit respectability politics for all to hear.
Kelley continued: “Beyond that, 75 percent of my customers are ladies. I want men to show respect for themselves for how they carry themselves here. So how can I tell the men to respect themselves when you guys are twerking on glass here? You wanna do it? Get the fuck out of my restaurant, because I did it for our people and I did it for our culture.”
Kelley telling a room full of women that they can’t expect to be respected by men if they shake their butts in public is classic sexist nonsense that puts the onus on women for men’s bad behavior. A woman throwing her ass in a circle isn’t asking to be violated by men any more than a high school girl daring to wear a spaghetti strap tank top to class. Additionally, the implication that the behavior of his patrons did a disserve to Black culture reeked of seeking respectable white approval.
All of this almost distracts from the fact that this restaurant was filled to the brim with maskless diners indoors in the middle of the deadly covid-19 pandemic that is hitting Texas hard.
Kelley received both critique and praise following his viral outburst. On Monday, he uploaded a lengthy Instagram post detailing his rationale for his behavior—complete with security camera footage—and apologized to any customers who were offended by his language.
But it appears as if Kelley’s insistence that True is a place for Respectable Blacks only falls a little flat. According to Eater, True’s bar is sometimes touted as a nightclub. If the restaurant is a space that is otherwise known for dancing and whatnot, it’s not a huge leap to assume that twerking for 30 seconds during other hours of operation would be prohibited. And True plans on profiting big time from their nightclub reputation: According to an Eventbrite listing, True plans on hosting a New Year’s bash called “TRUE Years Eve”:
This event will feature pricing for all tables, booths and private seating rooms in TRUE and our adjoining nightclub space. Guests reserving tables, booths and private seating rooms will receive multiple meal options, including the options of surf and turf and jerk chicken and vegan bowl options, complimentary Moët champagne, and access to DJ, live music and performance artist entertainment. Private booths and rooms in the club portion that will host our primary DJ, live music and performance artist entertainment seat four (4) to eighteen (18) guests, depending on the selected booth or room.
General admission tickets start at $125 a pop. Otherwise, two seats at the bar and dinner is $350 (drinks not included), a table for two plus dinner and a bottle of champagne is $500, a table for four with dinner and champagne is $1,000. The prices continue to increase from there, with the most eye-popping price clocking in at $10,000 for 10 people, two snack platters, and four bottles of champagne.
Performers include Dru Hill... which may have been cool in 1998 but probably isn’t worth seeing for $1,000 plus fees in 2021 (no offense).
People spending top dollar to go to a club or overpriced restaurant on New Year’s Eve isn’t novel. In the past, chain restaurants in Times Square like Friday’s and Ruby Tuesday charged customers at least $200 for the honor of simply standing in their restaurants as the ball dropped. But if your restaurant sometimes has a club atmosphere, complete with DJ and Instagram-worthy props to pose with, on any given day... I don’t know, maybe don’t turn a few patrons twerking into an indictment on Black success.
Update, 5:05 p.m.: The rivalries have begun. It looks like you can twerk and brunch at the same time at this Houston restaurant: