The Dirty Dome has a dirty little secret. No, it’s not some money laundering scheme or anything necessarily illegal. However, this little secret is scary, scuzzy, vile and downright wrong. You would think that bar staff would have the safety of their patrons in mind while on their premise. There are plenty of checks in place to ensure people who are entering the bar are not too drunk, too dangerous, or too unpleasant. One would think that as a business owner you would want people to feel safe while in your bar or at a minimum, that worst case scenario, those big burly guys that have thrown us all out at some point could step in and protect people in need. The worst part? You’re probably thinking that I’m talking about some bar fight resulting from a spilled drink and some slurred zingers. That’s not even close; I’m talking about downright sexual harassment and The Dome’s reaction to a girl seeking refuge from an assaulter.
My friends and I were out celebrating Keith’s birthday in Halifax. It was shaping up to be an amazing night, we arrived at The Dome at the perfect level to enjoy our time there – we all know what I’m talking about… My friends and I wanted to go outside to get some air while a friend of ours (let’s call her Rachel) was talking to someone interested in buying her a drink. All seemed fine so we carried on our way out the door. Roughly 15 minutes later, I start getting frantic phone calls and messages from Rachel begging us to come find her. When we got back into The Dome she was visibly shook. She went on crying and explaining how this guy refused to accept no as an answer. To him, these drinks were a direct route to getting what he wanted. Now, some people say, “Well she shouldn’t have accepted the drinks in the first place” or “She was likely leading him on” but this was clearly unwanted and she made that known. This guy was grabbing at her, asking her to come home and insisting on buying her more drinks when she was visibly too drunk to start. All this said, my friends and I decided it was time to leave and that we’d take the night elsewhere. We thought surely this night could only get better. It did not. What happened in the next 30-40 minutes has forever destroyed my trust in the bouncers at The Dome and to an extent, the Halifax Regional Police.
As we were leaving the bar, a couple of bouncers saw Rachel, who was very drunk and crying, and motioned us to the door to take her home. As this was our intention anyway we reassured the bouncing staff that we were on our way home. We ended up leaving the bar through Cheers upstairs only to realize that the girls had forgotten their jackets down at coat-check in The Dome, so Rachel and I stood outside while my friends grabbed their jackets. Rachel, still distraught from the encounter and a victim of sexual harassment, stood outside with me sobbing about the experience. It was heart-wrenching to see a friend endure something like that and I was very concerned. All of the sudden, my friend tries hiding behind me. I didn’t’t see it right away, but the guy who was harassing her actually followed us all the way from downstairs at The Dome, to outside of Cheers. As soon as I recognized him I told him he needed to go away and that these advances were unwanted by my clearly distraught friend. She went on to tell him to leave her alone and that she just wanted to go home. He then continued to try and convince her to allow him to cab home with her and he would put her to bed. At this point, I was fuming and needed to do something. I should have just socked him in the face and taken the consequences of defending my friend from an unwelcomed advance. I could have lived with that. Sadly, instead, I reached out to a bouncer who was at least twice my size and had been watching the entire event unfold. I told him point blank the story of what this pervert did downstairs and how he wouldn’t leave my friend alone. I told him that she felt uncomfortable and trapped. I simply asked for him to get this guy away from my friend. His response to me trying to protect Rachel from sexual harassment? “Doesn’t look like an issue to me.” Strike one. How the hell as someone who is supposed to protect patrons can you respond to a direct complaint of sexual harassment that you are literally witnessing by essentially saying it’s a non-issue? Rachel was clearly distraught about this situation, her friend reached out to the establishment for help in the situation and was essentially told it’s a non-issue. This in itself would have had me fuming and forever angered at The Dome, however, this story get’s much, much worse.
After continued attempts to evade this guy, my friend finally approached the bouncer and tried to get his attention as she felt like she needed immediate help. What he does next leaves a sick taste in my mouth and a shattered perception of safety. Instead of assisting her and simply escorting her to a cab while keeping this guy away, he slams her into a wall and starts ranting to her about how she is going to the drunk tank and how she is way too drunk. The entire time my friends and I were telling the bouncer exactly what had happened and why she reached out. Regardless, he called the Halifax Regional Police and they cuffed her and threw her in the paddy wagon. At this point things were more or less out of our hands. As she was being detained, I asked to talk to the officers, as they didn’t know any of the previous stories from that night. While I understand that police officers must set an example, I shared this entire story and they still deemed it necessary to keep my friend, who had been sexually harassed, wrongfully detained and left completely alone to arrive at to the police station up the road.
If this is how unwanted sexual advances are treated by both the authorities and bouncers I’m terrified for my friends. This is a clear example of an establishment that not only see’s sexual harassment on a regular basis but also enabling it. This bouncer single handedly allowed a girl to continue to be sexually harassed right in front of him, with testimony from her friends on the situation, visible indicators of discomfort, and eventually a blatant call for help. Not only did he stand idly by and watch this happen, he punished someone who had been through a vile and disgusting experience to the point where he inflicted physical pain and had her arrested. Is this how we respond to sexual assaults and harassment? I certainly hope for the sake of all those who attend The Dome you never have to go through what my friend did. I can’t speak for everyone but I can certainly speak for myself when I say I will never trust that establishment to keep my friends or me safe. I have seen nothing to this point to prove me wrong and I urge discretion and caution when entering The Dome. It’s a dog-eat-dog world in there where you’re left defenseless and are punished for seeking help. Be careful.