One night in 2016, infamous right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos and homegrown Dallas white nationalist Richard Spencer walked into a karaoke bar on Abrams Road in Lake Highlands. They left less than a half-hour later after being kicked out by One Nostalgia Tavern's bartenders. Before they did, someone filmed a video of Yiannopoulos singing "America the Beautiful" as Spencer and his fellow travelers gave Nazi salutes from the crowd.
Last night, the Observer talked to one of the bartenders on duty the night the video was filmed about how it feels to be part of what's now the centerpiece of a Buzzfeed feature exploring the connections between Yiannopoulos' former employer Breitbart and the mishmash of white nationalists, racists and neo-Nazis sometimes referred to as the alt-right.
"It was around 1 a.m. when [Yiannopoulos, Spencer and friends] came into the bar. It was very odd because they all had the same haircut," Amiti Perry says. "I had no idea who Richard Spencer was. I had no idea that was Milo. In fact, I had no idea that was Milo until today."
Yiannopoulos and his group were all dressed alike, Perry says, outfitted in the pastels and crew cuts often seen at alt-right gatherings.
"They were very loud and abrasive in ordering their drinks — waving their money and pounding on the bar. I said, 'Oh, it looks like you boys are celebrating something,' and they said, 'Oh, we just came from a rally,'" Perry says. "I asked them if it was a fraternity thing [because they were all dressed alike], and they said, 'You could call it that.'"
The Observer couldn't find a record or report of a meeting or rally hosted by Yiannopoulos or Spencer in Dallas on April 2, 2016 — the pair hit One Nostagia Tavern early in the morning of April 3 — but Perry says they could've been coming from a meeting at one of the many hotels near the bar. Neither Yiannopoulos nor Spencer had been to the bar before or has returned since, Perry says.
"They got their drinks and didn't tip," Perry says. "Karaoke had ended, but they asked our karaoke hostess if they could sing a cappella because she was already shutting down her equipment. Then they asked our owner, and he was like, 'It's not a big deal, sing something a cappella.'"
Usually when someone sings at the bar without the help of the karaoke machine, he or she sings something familiar, like a show tune, Perry says."We had no idea what was about to happen. They started 'America the Beautiful,' and I looked at my co-workers and said, 'This is odd,'" Perry says. "Then all of the sudden, halfway through the song, I see, from behind the stage, about 15 arms go up in the salute."
Perry says she got angry and rushed the stage, grabbing the microphone just as the song — and video clip — ended.
"I said, 'Get the fuck out. You are not welcome here, at all,'" Perry says. "I was yelling at them, and — I remember this distinctly — they all came around me on the stage and were yelling things. Some were shouting, 'Trump, Trump, Trump.' At that point, it started to hit me who these people were, and then they started saying, 'Make America great again.'
"Then I had people get in my face. It might have been Milo because he didn't immediately go outside; he was kind of getting them roused, and they were saying, 'Make America white again.'"
In a statement sent to Buzzfeed, Yiannopoulos said he could not see Spencer and his friends saluting in the crowd because of his "severe myopia."
Eventually, after several of Perry's male colleagues intervened, Yiannopoulos and Spencer left the bar. "They were trying to bully me," says Perry, who stands just over 5 feet tall.
As soon as the Buzzfeed article went online, Perry and other employees at the bar began getting calls and social media messages about the video, in which the bar's logo is visible behind Yiannopoulos. Perry wants people to know that One Nostalgia Tavern did not welcome Yiannopoulos or Spencer.
"We had that experience. It was crazy and weird, you know; it felt like the Twilight Zone," Perry says. "It's out there now, and I don't know what to do about it but tell the story and let people know the context."
If you want to drop by and thank Perry for kicking the neo-Nazis out, she'll be at the bar all night Friday.