Toronto at Night features many personalities. The balance of people we meet on any given night is a diverse one, with everyone from TTC drivers to coat-check girls to drunken queers and towel boys (should you choose to end your revelry at one of our city’s finer bathhouses) coming to bear on the kind of night you’ll have.
Although I generally believe in bringing along a positive attitude in my handbag when I head out, I want to send an extra special dose of adoration to the security folk and bartenders out there, and I think you should, too.
A good doorperson sets the tone for the night ahead and will give you a smile on the way in. A great doorperson will have a bit of a chat, let fly with a razor-sharp one-liner or factoid you’ll quote for the next two days and otherwise ensure you know you’re among friends. If you “enjoy” your evening a bit too much, they’ll make sure you get out of the building without hurting yourself. If that cutie in the corner shoots you down, they’ll commiserate with you on your way out. If you end up departing à deux, they’ll give you a thumbs-up or -down and maintain radio silence when you show up with someone else the next week.
A good doorperson will notice your haircut, new shoes, whether you stayed home the week before. They are always good for the juiciest gossip (one of the benefits of having to remain sober on the job is that you can peep everyone else’s misbehaviour). Let me put it this way: treat them as you would want to be treated, because like that old Sylvester song says, they are your friends. Should they be kind enough to throw favours your way, be it a line bypass or no cover, remember these actions are exactly that: favours. Do not take them for granted.
A gentleman I’m rather fond of and who has worked more than a few doors around town recently left one of them, only to run into a regular on the street and be told, “That sucks! Who’s going to let me in for free now?”
I was livid, and he was justifiably hurt. Here he is, dealing with said regular’s sorry drunken ass week in and week out only to be treated like a discarded free ticket. I’m not as much of a gentleman as my friend, because if I were in his shoes, I would see to it that this person never received a favour again. I would see to it that door staff charge him double cover and make him wait twice as long. Most certainly, I would see to it that he understood I am a person with feelings who is working while he’s having fun. This doorperson had no obligation to give this customer any kind of attention but did because he’s a nice guy. Remember that the next time you walk into a party.
While I’m dishing on the bouncers, I can’t ignore the bartenders. They deserve every cent they make and every cent you tip them, because you haven’t seen rude until you’ve seen a boozy queer throwing ’tude because he thinks someone else was served ahead of him. Shit gets real at the bar and bartenders have to deal with it, as one of my barkeep friends says, and unless you want watered-down, over-iced drinks and slow service, you’d do well to treat them with the respect they’re entitled to.
Most people you meet in a club won’t remember your name five minutes later, but a good bartender will remember your name and your drink — not an easy task when you’re serving hundreds of people a night. Many bartenders aren’t there because they like you, but every now and then one will let his or her feelings show; I have it on good authority that some of them even love you, and they should get our love right back.
Ultimately, it goes back to respect. I know we all want to run around pretending to be more fabulous than we actually are, doing choreography from videos and screeching Nicki Minaj at the top of our lungs, but we get to do that because of the safe and welcoming environment security and bar staff give us. It’s not always the party hosts or DJs who are the true stars of your favourite club night. The security and bar staff are the front line of Toronto nightlife, and they deserve a kiss for dealing with us.
Toronto at Night appears in every other issue of Xtra.