Taranaki cinema's PJ & onesie ban goes global

From Checkpoint, 5:29 pm on 24 April 2018

A Taranaki cinema is standing by its decision to turn away customers wearing pyjamas, onesies and even dressing gowns to the movies, saying it lowers the tone.

A Taranaki cinema is standing by its decision to turn away customers wearing pyjamas, onesies and even dressing gowns to the movies, saying it lowers the tone.

Hawera cinema manager Kirsty Bourke

Hawera cinema manager Kirsty Bourke Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Hāwera Cinema 2 has made headlines around the world after a "friendly reminder" of its dresscode on its Facebook page took on a life of its own.

Independently-operated, Hāwera Cinema 2 is run by a trust and situated on a prominent corner in the South Taranaki town's CBD.

It boasts two modern theatres and offers plush premium seating for those willing to pay that little bit extra.

Manager Kirsty Bourke said it had a long-standing policy on dirty workboots, but recently had noticed sartorial standards were dropping.

"Over the past couple of months we've noticed an increase in people coming to the theatre with dirty footwear - because that was part of the post too - as well as people wearing pyjamas and dressing gowns.

"We believe we have a lovely theatre, it has a nice atmosphere, and we don't think that kind of attire is appropriate and we believe it lowers the tone of the whole complex." 

Ms Bourke she had been taken aback by the international attention the dresscode has garnered, which had included fielding calls from the BBC and The Guardian.

"For starters the reaction fullstop has been absolutely overwhelming. No way did we ever think that a friendly little reminder to our customers would go global, but the majority of the response has been in our favour.

"I mean all day yesterday we had customers congratulating us, saying well done you for making a stand."

Ms Bourke, who has managed the Hāwera cinema for 17 years, said she wanted to stamp out the problem before it got out of hand.

"We just wanted to nip it in the bud before it a major issue. I aware of other businesses where they have what is commonly called the PJ brigade that shop there and we did not want to fall into that category."

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Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Moviegoers at the complex by and large supported the dresscode.

Aileen Tippett who had just watched Peter Rabbit with her husband and grandchildren was in favour of the ban.

"I agree with it. I think you need to take a bit of pride in yourself and your community and dress appropriately."

Ashley McDonald and Michael Salisbury were off to see Ready Player One.

Ms McDonald supported the move.

"I think it's probably a good idea because it's public and you should probably dress up just a little bit."

She reckoned there was probably grounds for the ban on bedroom attire as it was not unheard of to see out and about in their PJs in Hāwera.

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Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

"Personally I've seen good old Pak'nSave in the morning and you'll see some people in their pyjamas yeah.

"They might just be having a busy day I guess. A busy morning, you know, no time to get changed. Let's just go get some breakfast, bacon and eggs."

But cinema goer Ali Ranui thought the ban was a bit over the top, especially for evening screenings.

"I've seen them sneaking in, but I don't have a problem with it. I mean if you're coming in day time, normal time yeah, but I reckon if you're having insomnia movies that go for hours and hours I don't have a problem with it. 

"I mean they're just pyjamas. I've seen people walk in supermarkets in their pyjamas at night time when people dash in and dash out. What's the problem."

Manager of the nearby White Hart Hotel, Lovedeep Singh, said he preferred his patrons not to don pyjamas in the bar, but admitted he had been known to turn a blind eye.

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Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

"It's a pub you know, there's a lot of people socialising and we want people to be in an appropriate dresscode here not pyjamas and all that kind of stuff.

"I haven't seen anyone coming in a onesie or those kinds of thing. Mostly pyjamas which is sort of like okay, but not exactly."

Hāwera Cinema 2 Trust chair Stu Wilkinson supported Ms Bourke's decision and reckoned the ban was no different to refusing entry to drunks or turning away youngsters from a restricted movie.

So if you're going to the flicks in Hāwera - you've been warned - there are sartorial standards to be kept up.