Two women go viral on TikTok to explain what they were like denied access to a club in Los Angeles earlier this month.
Models Ella Halikas and Alexa Jay said they tried to enter the Hollywood club The Highlight Room, which is owned by Tao Group Hospitality, but were not allowed in by a bouncer — and the videos have since spawned a mini-online movement discussing the various nightlife prejudices.
“We’re tired of just letting this happen,” Halikas said in the original TikTok video [were] clearly discriminated against. It is very clear.”
Jay said she was with a large group and was “definitely the biggest in the group”. They had arranged for a birthday party and were let in by a promoter, she said.
“Right when I get to the front, the bouncer puts the rope in front, looks me up and down and says, ‘Yeah, not tonight,'” Jay said. She said NBC news it’s not the first time she’s had to deal with racism or fat phobia in the nightlife scene, but that night she had had enough.
Plus-sized fellow model Halikas, whom Jay said she had encountered in line, eventually went to the front of the line to find out what was going on, and she was also looked at from head to toe and told “not tonight” by The Bouncer.
The two made a joint video on Halikas’ TikTok page, and both are active on the platform. Halikas has over 500,000 followers and Jay has over 78,000. Halikas has been a content creator for many years and a signed model since 2019, she said. She’s been in too Sports illustrated. According to her Instagram, Jay is signed to DT Model Management.
“We’re not letting this go any longer,” Jay said in the original video. They also advocated a hashtag based on the bouncer’s words, “Not tonight,” which they said another video was commented dozens of times on The Highlight Room’s Instagram page (comment is now disabled).
The club has faced quite a bit of online backlash. In addition to comments on Instagram, the company has negative reviews about discrimination everywhere (posted after the video). Facebook page until Google reviews, at least according to the models. Halikas said in another video that the Google reviews have been removed.
“Absolutely appalling. They discriminate on weight. They should be ashamed of themselves. Would never recommend this place to anyone. Terrible customer service and people skills,” one Facebook user wrote on Nov. 7.
Also, people have left negative reviews on a venue with the same name, The Highlight Room in New York Citycausing other people in the reviews to ask them to stop because it’s not in the same city.
But Tao Hospitality Group actually owns that club in New York, along with several other clubs including TAO and Marquee. Tao did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It told NBC News that it is “aware of … Ella and Alexa’s experience and [is] actively working with them to further discuss the incident.”
“We always appreciate feedback on our activities and continue to work to improve our guest experience… Our company does not tolerate any form of discrimination,” the company added.
The girls confirmed in one follow-up video that they had spoken to the club but were not satisfied with the results.
“So far, we’ve been extremely disappointed with how Highlight Room is handling all of this,” said Jay. They went on to say that women have publicly discussed their own stories of nightlife discrimination and they hope to use the situation to pressure Tao and others about the larger issue.
At least one other person has made a video on TikTok discussing evaluation by promoters and club staff.
“We want to talk to the big guys at the top who are making these rules and hiring all these bouncers because ultimately this is up to you,” Halikas said in the follow-up video.