“I think the picture of the note that I posted stinks of racism.”
A local musician was fired from his job playing music at Arsenal Bowl after he posted a picture of a sign from management banning DJ’s from spinning hip-hop music, even by request.
Peter Guellard, a DJ and guitarist with bands Venus in Furs and Love Dumpster, posted the picture before taking it down on Monday afternoon to give Arsenal a chance to respond. In fact when the Current contacted Guellard Monday morning, he postponed an interview and asked the bowling alley to publicly respond before he took the matter any further. The business released a statement Monday evening but Guellard said he wasn’t satisfied. Neither were people following the story on social media.
“I told the management that I will suspend it temporarily to give them a chance to respond why they don’t want hip hop played in their establishment,” Guellard told the Current in an email. “I am currently torn in between making this post public again or just keeping it private and exploring other avenues (like yours) to spread the word,” Guellard said.
In the statement, Arsenal management wrote:
“Our goal is to create a warm and welcoming environment for all customers, and we have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind. Our entertainment is intended to capture the fun from the heyday of the classic rock bowling era. With that in mind, we generally focus on rock and roll music and closely related genres. We are looking into this specific situation now to confirm exactly what occurred, but moving forward, we’ll strive to ensure that any communication to DJs focuses on what the evening’s bowling experience should include instead of exclude. Thank you.”
Guellard said, however, that the response doesn’t address his and others concerns.
“I can totally understand if the note said, ‘No explicit lyrics’ or ‘Play Rock’n’Roll music,’ which is supposed to be the theme, but I think the picture of the note that I posted stinks of racism. I also felt very uncomfortable explaining to people who were requesting hip hop that the owners don’t want me to play it,” he said.
Guellard, who has worked weekends at Arsenal since October 2017, said he was informed by another DJ at the establishment that he would no longer be put on the schedule and was ordered to take the photo down. While the sign is new, Guellard said the ban on hip hop is not.
“When I started, I was told to not play hip hop and anything that has offensive lyrics because of the afternoon crowd which is mostly families,” he said. “[I received] many requests that I had to turn down before the note appeared and after I was informed to not play hip hop.”
Guellard says hip hop is the only genre he was ordered not to play.
Arsenal Bowl owner Paul Buncher told the Current that he recently “leaned” on his managers after receiving continued complaints about adult language in the lyrics of some music played at the establishment.
“That has been a real problem for us because we have a lot of families that come in here,” Bucher said. “I think someone got rattled and put that sign up. I don’t want any music played that has offensive lyrics regardless of the genre.”
Buncher says requests from customers can put the DJs in a difficult position if the request violates the offensive-language policy. And while, he says he’s not sure how he will proceed in light of this controversy, he was clear on one point. When asked if there is a ban on all hip-hop music, Buncher replied: “No.”
One of the posters on Arsenal’s Facebook statement was local performer Phat Man Dee who wrote: “It’s not a specific situation, it’s a rule you instituted…. you banned a specific kind of music, with the intention of quietly banning the people who listen to it. It’s obvious to everyone you didn’t want hip hop or the brown people that listen to it. Never mind that it’s a popular form of music that is enjoyed by most of America. You have the right to play or not play whatever you like, but this is a free market economy and I have a right to not patronize your business as a direct result of it.”
And poster, Dorian Mansa Musa Madden wrote: “Lol said this is generally a rock n roll bowling alley then why didn’t i see classical polka jazz or disco on this list of music not to play since that’s no where near rock n roll. man stop with the bs.”