Going out to a club with the guys is difficult in Egypt, thanks to the notorious “couples only policy.
This policy is particularly annoying when a group of guys just want to go somewhere to chill out and have a couple of drinks. The options are then limited to coffeehouses and a few bars that don’t stick to strict gender rules.
“I am totally against this policy. It’s an obstacle to all singles who want to go clubbing or want to spend a night out, said Mahmoud El Desouky, a marketing specialist.
“One night, I went with a group of male friends to After Eight, said John Brooks, a study-abroad student in Cairo. “After we paid LE 400 for drinks and food in the first half hour, we were asked to leave – forcibly removed actually – on the grounds that the place was overcrowded with men.
Many guys, on the other hand, have no problem with the policy. “Even though I was denied entrance a few times, I am with this policy that ensures that guys don’t outnumber girls, which is important for girls who would otherwise feel uncomfortable, said Sami Asfoura, a graduate student.
“I am totally with this policy for the simple reason that it gets irritating if the club is full of males, said Moncef Ayeb, a Tunisian resident in Egypt.
“However, this rule shouldn’t apply to foreigners because it encourages prostitution. If someone is traveling alone and doesn’t know any girls in the city, there is no other way of getting in than paying a woman to tag along, Moncef added.
Hossam Nassef, an undergraduate student, said, “I can’t say I agree or disagree with such a policy, as it all depends on the situation, said. “If it’s only two guys trying to get in just to chill out and dance, it should be okay, but if I am the owner of the club and I find like six guys trying to enter, I won’t let them in just to avoid problems like them getting drunk and freaking out other clients.
Ayman Baky, a partner in Aubergine and former manager of Latex, attributed the strict application of this policy in many bars to several incidents where some guys got wasted, lost control and started harassing other clients.
“The prevailing perception among club owners about single men is that they’d have a few extra drinks and start hitting on the girls in the bar, then the guards would have to come in and warn them to behave, Baky said. “So to cut it short, they just don’t let them in.
“The problem here is that some guys don’t take no for an answer. I’ve been to clubs everywhere and men generally respect women, so if she tells him to go away, usually he would, he added, “but here the culture is different, and if you want to maintain a club, you have to keep a female to male ratio of 2:1 or 3:1.
Baky also believes that the more selective the club is about who gets in, the better the reputation it has. “The lenient attitude of some club owners towards letting people in is one of the reasons several clubs have closed down, he added.
“After the regular clients stop coming with the same frequency, they start letting anybody in to make up for the revenue drop, Baky said. “However, they don’t realize that when they do that, they lose their original customers who won’t go back to a club full of horny men.
Some young men resort to paying their way in couples-only clubs by offering the bouncer a payoff. “My friend and I went to [an upscale club] the other night and they wouldn’t let us in, said a young Egyptian man who had just come back from the US. “So we chatted with the bouncer for a while and offered to pay him LE 50 and some manager inside LE 100. Now he knows us and we get in whenever we want.
“Clients are prone to offer payoffs for guards to get in, Baky commented. “To prevent that, I was always present at the door with the guards when I used to manage Latex or Andrea Agami.
According to a bartender at one Cairo club, many clubs introduce this policy to keep gay men out.
“Gay men used to make a lot of trouble a few years back, said Baky. “Now the gay community is much smaller, they are discrete and we know them by name, and we don’t mind having them as long as they abide by the rules.
“I have nothing against gay men per se, he continued. “What I am against is public displays of affection whether you’re straight or gay. It is not only against our culture, but also illegal and we can get shut down by the tourist police if we allow it.