CLUBBERS walked out in disgust when a troupe of dancers took to the stage at Ripon nightspot, The Matrix, dressed like the racist Ku Klux Klan.
Images taken on mobile phones by the shocked club-goers, showed the dancers dressed in white robes with the distinctive pointed hood, as worn by members of the white suprematist group that was responsible for the deaths of countlessblacks in the USA.
The dance routine was part of a Hallowe’en-themed night held at the Kirkgate nightclub last Friday and was seen by hundreds of people.
This week, owner of the The Matrix, Mr Chris I’Anson said the dance troupe “weren’t supposed to be the Ku Klux Klan”, but apologised if any offence had been caused.
The incident was drawn to the Gazette’s attention by a group of four people from Harrogate, who walked out in disgust.
One of them, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “Me and my friends were shocked and disgusted by the tasteless choice in fancy dress of the staff, where halfway through the night they entered the stage area dressed as Ku Klux Klan members with imitation burning crosses.
“I felt very sorry for the black couple sat next to us who were seemingly forced to leave when these events began.”
“The Ku Klux Klan is not Hallowe’en, it is not fancy dress, it is not a joke,” said the clubber.
Another in the group, who also wished to remain anonymous, said they had been on a night out in Ripon for the first time.
“We fancied a change of scenery but we won’t be going there again,” he said. “I was really shocked – it was quite distasteful to do something like that when there were black people in the club. “I was shocked that they would do something like that in this day and age.”
He added: “The Ku Klux Klan are racist – they killed lots of black people. I felt it was either that (racist) or it was a very strange choice or dress – they obviously did not put a lot of thought into it.”
Commenting this week, Mr I’Anson said the dance troupe, called Capasusa, “weren’t supposed to be the Ku Klux Klan, but they did look like them, I must admit.”
He had not known what the dance troupe were going to wear until he saw the act on the night.
“It wasn’t meant to be racist,” he said. “If somebody had expressed they were upset by it I would definitely apologise to them.
“All it was meant to be was a bit of Hallowe’en fun. If it has offended anybody then I am sorry.”
He added that there had been 400 people in the club on the night and no one had made a complaint.
“Two people came to me on the night who said it wasn’t in as good taste as it could have been, but they enjoyed it anyway,” he said.
Paul Petty, choreographer of the dance troupe Capasusa, apologised unreservedly if any offence had been caused.
“I am really sorry, I did not mean it to be like that,” he said. “There was no offence intended.”
He said the costumes were merely meant to be “cloaking devices” to be then ripped off on stage as underneath the dancers were wearing ‘’Rocky Horror’’ costumes, such as stockings and suspenders.
The costumes were to stop unwanted advances onto the female dancers as they progressed on to stage, as well as hide the costumes underneath, and the duration of the procession had only been about a minute and a half.
“It was a way of getting up on stage incognito, really, due to the nature of the costumes underneath.”
Mr Petty said the same routine had been performed in a Harrogate nightclub about a year ago without complaint.
He believed the ”burning crosses” description was “stretching it a bit”, as they were a pole from a gazebo with a glow stick attached to it.
But he said the same costumes would not be used in future. “It was just a poor choice of costumes which obviously somebody has interpreted as Ku Klux Klan costumes,” he said.
“I can only live and learn by these mistakes, I suppose.”