51 Main's owner says dress code is part of the plan

51 Main's owner says dress code is part of the plan

CHAMPAIGN — At downtown's new 51 Main nightclub, owner Rod Sickler is going for an upscale atmosphere — and has the dress code to match.

Three days before its grand opening in the East Main Street spot that housed the Accord and the Highdive before it, a sign greeting patrons warned of the long list of items that won't be allowed inside on weekends.

No hats, chains, plain T-shirts or baggy clothing.

No sunglasses, sports jerseys, hoodies or pants not worn at the waist.

And no untied shoes, large purses or excessively graphic, ripped or torn jeans.

The aim of the list is two-fold, Sickler says: He wants to create an atmosphere similar to what one would find at a big-city nightclub and also believes the dress code will help with safety.

Take big purses, he said: "That's a place where you can hide things. You can hide things under a baseball cap."

And remember what happened in 2015, when a 22-year-old Champaign man was shot in a parking lot outside the building, then home to the Highdive. It happened as bar patrons were headed to their cars after the 2 a.m. closing.

"That obviously went into it," he said. "I'm aware there were some issues there before."

Sickler said he's more worried now about incidents that have been happening at entertainment venues around the world.

"Look at what happened (at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando). Look at what happened at the Ariana Grande concert," he said. "We don't want any problems, and we want people to be safe."

Sickler said he spent tens of thousands of dollars on security at 51 Main, including for new cameras.

"Safety is our number-one focus," he said. "We want to be proactive."

He isn't worried about pushback on the dress code, though he said the "no hats" rule could be an issue at an upcoming country music show.

"At the end of the day, it doesn't matter," he said. "It's about taking good care of your clients and staff and having a good time."

The dress code mirrors how other upscale nightclubs operate on weekends, "just standard operating procedures," he said.

"Even though we're not Chicago, Indianapolis or St. Louis, I think that Champaign likes that sort of feeling to it. We're trying to model it after some of the larger clubs I've been to."

Other nightclubs in Champaign also have dress codes, Sickler said.

Representatives from The Drop Lounge and Studio Paris, upscale clubs in Chicago, said they have similar policies.

Hoodies are banned from Studio Paris, which also doesn't allow men in tank tops or sandals.

The Drop Lounge requires any hat to be worn forward. And no cargo shorts.

Sickler likened the dress code to what you'd find in upscale restaurants around town.

"There's so many nice restaurants in downtown where you wouldn't feel comfortable wearing a tank top and a ball cap to," he said. "We want to be a place where people can go after a nice dinner."

Vaping also won't be allowed in 51 Main, though Sickler said guests are free to do so on the back patio.

"We have a beautiful back patio," he said, which will also help keep the front sidewalk clear.


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Roanrider wrote on June 14, 2017 at 9:06 am

LOL good luck putting on a country music show and telling them they can't wear cowboy hats!!!

rsp wrote on June 14, 2017 at 9:06 am

It might slow down getting in but they could check hats as people come in easier than they can check purses and other items.

Illiniwek222 wrote on June 14, 2017 at 10:06 am

Leave your hoodie at home, Saulie.

But seriously wrote on June 14, 2017 at 11:06 am

Maybe I'm simple, but I'd like clarification on the 'no plain t-shirts' rule. Does that mean all t-shirts or just ones devoid of any kind of decoration? In other words, are they requiring collared shirts?

stanmein wrote on June 16, 2017 at 8:06 am

As long as it's Affliction, you're all good.

cjw61822@hotmail.com wrote on June 14, 2017 at 12:06 pm




Saulie   Yodler   wanna comment on 51 and its racist dress code?   Downtown becomes untenable at night.. remember the stories last year of roving bands of violence behind 51 main.. so much so that the Mayor and the Chief of Police said that Officers would be out in force to prevent it.................suprising the videos did show the violence that seems to follow certain folks around town.

JamBam wrote on June 15, 2017 at 5:06 pm

Good move.  Keep the riff-raff out of nice places.  They already ruin everything else in Champaign. People just want to go out, have a drink, and have a good time with no fights.  Rules like this are good for everyone.



Tyronius P HoggLegg wrote on June 20, 2017 at 8:06 am

I think Saul's main issue would be his highwater black pants, white socks and his pink crocs...