Balham bar The Exhibit accused of discrimination for ban on grime and garage music

Francesca Gillett
Exhibit Bar in Balham which has been accused of discriminating against certain types of music: Google

A south London bar has been accused of discrimination for refusing to allow “polarising” grime and garage music to be played by guests in its private function room.

The Exhibit bar in Balham is refusing to back down despite a backlash over the venue’s policy which excludes certain genres of music.

Bieneosa Ebite, from south London, wanted to hire out a function room at the nightspot but was told the venue prohibits “any music that it deems to be too far away from relatively mainstream”.

She received the warning message as she tried to book the room online, which specified: “No drum and bass, trance, garage, heavy/death metal, dancehall, grime, bassline”.

The message added: “A good way to judge what sort of music is acceptable would be to say that music played on a national commercial radio stations during the daytime will be fine.”

Booking policy: The message warned the venue will exclude some music genres. (@bieneosa)

Ms Ebite, who works in PR, had hoped to book The Studio, which includes a private bar, sound system and capacity for up to 50 guests. She said she has since decided to take her business elsewhere because of the ban.

In a series of tweets she said: “I wanted to book the studio but you won’t allow me to play Stormzy or garage hits.

“I spoke to The Exhibit about their music ban and was told owners put it in place because of ‘explicit’ language and ‘atmosphere it creates’.

“Was also told by The Exhibit that afrobeat is on banned list too. When asked if they thought this action was discriminatory, they said ‘no’.

“Told The Exhibit that I was going to hire space but will no longer do so as I can't play my favourite music. This music ban is discriminatory.”

She added the ban on grime music was ironic given that popular grime artist Stormzy is currently number one in the UK album charts.

Local councillor Carlton Young said the music policy "smacks of racial profiling and undermines inclusion".

But Lisa Loebenberg, the director of the bar, told the Standard: “The Exhibit aims to provide a relaxed, fun and informal atmosphere for all of its guests; we strive to foster inclusion, not exclusion, and in doing so do not play any potentially polarising unconventional music genres – from trance to grime.

“Sticking to popular music, we play artists of all different races, genders and ages.

“It is standard for many bars and restaurants to implement its own set of policies – from dress to music codes; we’re sorry that @bienosa's experience did not meet her expectations and we have attempted to contact the customer directly.”

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