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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Full ahead

I've been privy to a number of opening nights over the years. They all have their own charms, from super clubs where you're in a team of 20+ to the relaunch of a flagging pub in the charmless end of town. There are a couple of things they all have in common though.
There will inevitably be jobs not done. The timescale of a launch is planned well in advance and all of the contractors are assigned their tasks. Initiations are sent out for the day and the PR machines spring into action. This means that when the inevitable delays, errors and cancellations occur there will always be tasks left undone. Most don't impact the fun for the majority of folks, most don't really have an impact on my work. Some, like the intruder alarms triggering all night, do have an impact but in a 'show must go on' type of way, we work 'round it and get it all running smoothly.
There is always a ludicrous guest list. The press, the local scene, the music, wine or ale specialists that they want to impress and even the contractors. This eclectic mix is inevitably supplemented by the staff, past present and future. All of these have partners and friends. This doesn't even include the VIPs, celebrities and investors who turn up to party. This as well as the high tide flood of punters stirred into curiosity by the promotions and PR drive.
Then we have the failures, things that were working 5 minutes ago stop working, things that didn't do that, suddenly do. This is just normal in a venue of any size, how you react to it usually takes teamwork and experience, not something you've necessarily got when those doors swing open for the first time. What you do then is think fast and solve it, lie, cheat, beg borrow and steal to make it through with the least amount of disruption to the smooth, polished facade your presenting.
The over-riding thing that is common to all of these events is the disappointment. All of the promoters, planners and stakeholders try hard. They commit a large amount of time, money and effort to making it as big as possible. They plan and hope for it to be as big as they can possibly imagine. They anticipate all of their marketing hitting the target, the weather being great, the cup tie not involving the local team, the competitors missing a trick. This doesn't come off and despite the cocaine smiles and sleep deprivation, they are all disappointed. I make it to the end of another shift, maybe stressful, maybe energetic but as long as I make it through and don't make too many mistakes I go away satisfied.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

minimum unit price

The recently proposed minimum prices on a unit of alcohol will only have a positive effect on our trade.
The minimum price is inevitably so low only the most ludicrous drinks offer will be affected. The trebles for singles and drink all you can nights. These will not impact in a bad way on our trade.
No club, bar or pub will be suffering. We may see a few more, folks coming in, we may see a lot more folk coming in direct from home and already battered. We may even see folks starting their night earlier and enjoying a variety of bars on their way round to the clubs. We'll maybe see less young underclass strutting the streets with bottles and cans of super cheap super strong lager.
We may even see the habitual street drinkers and 'homeless' sober once in a while, or at least forced to confront some aspects of their behaviour.
The very cheapest of alcohol is not of benefit to anyone. I'm sure the supermarkets will survive one thing not going in their favour.

Absinthe I

This evil green poison makes for some very messed up folks.
An afternoon of sipping the green fairy can lead to such entertaining adventures as setting fire to your sleeves on a candle. This can happen to anyone leaning over the table to pour the wine or retrieve a distant condiment. Normally sniffing, screaming, flapping, flailing and agitation ensue with some patting blowing and general disruption. Occasionally, there are the smooth, who just smother it without getting fussed and carry on a little singed.
One gent on absinthe just watched. His shirt caught alight, at the cuff, I noticed as the whole of his sweater was alight like a garden torch. He seemed most interested in the interplay of flesh, fabric and flames. A quick tackle with a one armed full body hug dealt with the flames. a large jug of ice water held the arm until the blue light taxi arrived. A long gentle persuasion led him to getting the treatment he required and us bidding him good bye for the evening. The smell of burning arm hair stayed with us all night.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


up side the head.
Our lovely students fill the place with their drunken cheer. They're enticed in with all sorts of cheap drink related frivolity. One historic favourite was the tequila line. The DJ would wait until the dancers were flagging a little and the bars were lulled before they all switched to water.
He would summon the dj's assistant to get the two tequila bottles with speedpours. The oops up side you head tune gets on the PA and the floor fills with lines of drunken fools sitting in rows with their backs between each others spread legs. The rows would lean forward in sync, touch the floor on one side, touch the floor on the other then take both hands to their heads and lean back. This bizarre seated synchronised wiggling to a tune of little merit only survives on the promise of strong booze. The dj's assistant works his way up and down the lines pouring tequila straight into willing mouths. Not a great deal but enough to help and get them moving - perhaps back to the bar after they've worked their way up off the floor.
This had become a time honoured tradition, which in night club terms means it had lasted longer than 1 year. The best results we had from this were those so distracted by the slim, shifting line of tequila and their attempts to get their mouths under every last drop that they lean forward as the line they're sitting in reaches the end of their backstroke. The result, clashes of heads, spitting of tequila into hair and eyes of relative strangers and general hilarity for all those standing watching. Even the sober, bored looking ones sweating in a tie and jacket.