In 1983 Bruce Springsteen and Little Steven Van Zant of The E Street Band and the Sopranos were kicked out of Disneyland because of the way they were dressed. Here was Steve's response
THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH
was thrown out of Disneyland today. The psychic scars this caused date
back to a seven-year old who faithfully watched Mickey strike up the
band every afternoon and lusted after Annette until about 15 years later
(I still need a shot of Skippy peanut butter now and then).
I had heard about discrimination back in the Sixties, having to do with
“Longhairs” not being allowed in. Although even then I somehow figured
this rule – if it existed – would probably apply to long-haired guitar
players and not, say, long-haired violin players. I think that double
standard would also apply today because I found that the rule I couldn’t
believe existed is in fact being strictly enforced. The fact is this
visual discrimination, the concept of a dress code at all, is a serious
flaw in our legal system and is nothing short of legalized prejudice.
At Disneyland, enforcing this ridiculous law is also an attack on rock
and music and all the people who believe in it. They’re telling me
nobody rocks in the Magic Kingdom. Nobody expresses their individuality
in the Magic Kingdom except maybe that guy in the rodent suit. It’s the
ideal fairground for James Watt.
As a country we
made great strides in the Sixties, mostly in the area of civil rights
for blacks, and that was great. But now we have an ever growing number
of the population, of which I am a part, who express themselves
visually; those whose appearances are an important form of
Every human being is born with a
uniqueness which society eventually forced him to suppress. I believe
that when young children are forced to conform in this way, the
frustration creates serious problems later on. The lack of
self-expression becomes self-destructive, often resulting in violence or
drug use or excessive drinking or any number of outlets of which I am
sure Walt Disney wouldn’t have approved.
of a dress code is a gaping loophole in the very civil rights laws
everyone fought so long and hard to get passed. For example, if
Disneyland didn’t want to admit black people, all they would have to say
is that they don’t like the way they are dressed. Twenty years of
humanitarian progress down the drain.
the most blatant prejudice a dress code suggests is against the poorer
segments of society who perhaps can’t afford to attire themselves in
clothing of which the security guard approved (depending on his mood
Obviously dress codes don’t begin and
end at Disneyland. They are an embarrassment to our society in whatever
restaurant, club or public facility they exist. But I think any place
billing itself as “The Happiest Place On Earth” is a good place to
So I think it is time to boycott
Disneyland until the vague and unfair dress code they enforce is
abolished once and for all. The First Amendment to the Constitution is
freedom of speech and expression. People who live their lives expressing
themselves by the way they look, doing no harm to anyone, are entitled
to the same rights that allow the Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members to run
around protected by our tax dollars. Everyone should be entitled to the
same protection under the law. Abolish legalized prejudice. Abolish all
dress codes now.
Little Steven, 1983
Disciples of Soul
Manhattan, New York.