A mum has been barred from a Gold Coast venue for a bizarre reason, amid growing controversy over its “insulting” dress code.
Mum-of-two Katie Hally was turned away from the Burleigh Pavilion on Saturday after she tried to enter the venue wearing an outfit that bared her neck tattoo.
The tattoo, which begins at the nape of Ms Hally’s neck and descends down the centre of her back, is written in Chinese lettering. In English, it reads: “family, love, happiness”.
Ms Hally said she was looking forward to celebrating a friend’s 45th birthday at the glitzy venue but was stopped in her tracks just a few steps into the building.
“(The doorman) said: ‘We’re very sorry but we can’t let you in because of your neck tattoos. I’m going to call the manager down to talk to you’,” she told the Gold Coast Bulletin.
Ms Hally said she was hoping to explain the sweet message behind the tattoo to management, but instead she was simply told to leave. She was advised, if she planned to return to the venue, she ought to wear a collared shirt that covered the tattoo.
According to Burleigh Pavilion’s policy, guests with tattoos are permitted entry but if the art is deemed “intimidating, aggressive or offensive”, the patron will be shown the door.
Ms Hally disagreed her tattoos fit that description.
“I got the first one, ‘happiness’, almost thirteen years ago after I got divorced,” she explained.
“The second one, ‘family’, I got done with my sister and the third one I did last, ‘love’, in the hopes I could find love again.
“I understand why the policy exists, but the manager could have used her discretion, she could have been more caring and assessed people on a case-by-case basis but they didn’t.”
Ms Hally said she would have “loved to have not returned” to Burleigh Pavilion but, not wanting to miss out on her friend’s birthday party, she went home and changed instead.
“It was just so disappointing and insulting,” she said.
“I’m a law-abiding citizen. I didn’t come here for a bar fight and they would have known that if they just asked a couple of questions.”
Ms Hally’s ordeal comes amid a slew of patrons being turned away from the Burleigh Pavilion for having tattoos.
Earlier this year, local mother Rachel Ubaldino was told her neck tattoo that read “Love Always” was inappropriate because it was “a representation of gang affiliation”, according to the Gold Coast Bulletin.
Gold Coast swim teacher and DJ Felipe Mattos was also banned from the venue for his neck tattoo which says “peace” in 2021, and local Maori woman Jadene Kini was refused entry in 2022 because of her traditional Moko kauae facial tattoo.
Last month, the venue came under fire once again after it barred upcoming Mortal Kombat 2 actor and British body builder Martyn ‘The Nightmare’ Ford from dining in because of his extensive visible tattoos.
The venue’s Google presence features one-star reviews from more than 50 aggrieved patrons who claim they or their friends were turned away due to the “discriminatory” policy.
Several of the reviewers said the policy seemed to be applied inconsistently.
“Our son was refused entry due to a tattoo on the side of his neck after he’s been going there for years. It is literally 5 letters,” one person wrote.
“I pointed out to security that I had a tattoo down the middle of my back up to my neck, and apparently that was fine. My husband had tattoos on his arms but wasn’t refused entry, so why is it different rules for a 22 year old?”
Another person said they were allowed to enter and sit down, before being kicked out just before they were ready to order.
“I cannot believe in 2023 you choose to discriminate against someone for what they choose to put on their own body. How embarrassing for the restaurant,” the patron wrote.
A third said “Getting turned away at the door for a small tattoo on my neck which was an ode to my late grandparents will forever be one of the most sickening experiences of my life.”
“When the manager classed it as an offensive tattoo I was ready to break down,” they wrote.
Ms Hally warned that without a review of its policy, Burleigh Pavilion will continue to lose customers.
She added: “We recently renovated one of our properties into an Airbnb. It’s right around the corner and we used to recommend people to go to the Burleigh Pavilion if they wanted a nice day out.
“We won’t be recommending anyone to go over there again.”