One night in particular comes to mind; it proved to be the last night I would ever walk through Glucose’s darkened doors.
I was there on assignment to see local icons Ron and Joy test drive some new material for their hometown audience. I’d worked with Ron several years prior, and I had a genuine respect for the man’s humility and talent. When I asked him if I could get a comp to the show, his response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic. His Facebook reply read something like:
Glad to hear things are going will with Monday! We are gonna be recording an album in a month or two: super excited to see where it takes us! We’d love it if you came out to the show: I will put you on the list and Margo should come too! Here’s my number if you have any problems with the door-staff (they’re douche-bags): 123-456-7891.
And so, I went. Margo had a prior engagement, so I invited my a friend Albert to be my date for the show. Albert was somewhat reluctant to descend into Glucose’s blackened bowels, even for one night, but we hadn’t seen each other for quite some time, so he agreed to meet me there after the openers had finished.
I got there early, as I always do for shows I’m covering. I feel that if I am going to write a review of a show, I have to see it from beginning to end. I like to watch the first eager folk bound down the stairs; I also like to watch the reluctance with which stragglers leave as the club turns on the ugly lights.
My entrance was faced with resistance, however. While I was first to arrive, the door-men made a point of taking their time joking and laughing before evaluating the two pieces of identification I provided them.
“Hmmm…. buddy, “your” hair is shorter in this picture.”
“You’re right! Sorry. In the one and a half years that have gone by since having my picture taken at ICBC, I’ve changed up my hairstyle a bit. Are there any barber shops open so I can conform to this particular rendering of my photographic image?”
They stood stunned for a few moments before the guy in the back countered.
“Quit being a smart ass or we won’t let you in. Where is your ticket?”
“Well, I am covering the show. I think I’m on the list.”
“Ooooooohhhh, he’s on the list!” The big ape finally found his voice. “Well, talk to her!? (he pointed to a nice young lady behind what looked to be a pulpit just behind the front door), “She’ll let you know if you actually are on the list; if you’re not, we will escort you to the street.”
Thank God Ron remembered to add my name to the list; I was actually scared.
And so, I was stamped and descended the stairs. I immediately went to the bar and started a tab; again I had to provide two pieces of id, but no frisking was involved. The bartender was lovely. She even offered to keep my bag safe behind the bar for me. I smiled as I drank my beer.
About an hour later, I walked up the stairs and to the street to enjoy a smoke. My hand was stamped, after all, thus securing my re-entrance into the club, or so I thought.
About half way through my first smoke of the night, I was tapped on the shoulder in a manner, most confrontational. I turned quickly, expecting to see a motion-blurred fist of one of the wolves who guarded the place. I was pleasantly surprised, and relieved to see Albert’s smiling and bearded face; he extended an open palm instead of a fist.
“Hey bud! Sorry I’m late!”
“Albert! Thank God! I am so happy to see ya!”
“No, serious. Let’s go in!”
We stood in front of the line to the right of the door. This line was the equivalent of a supermarket express lane as everyone in this line has already passed the grueling security check; on most nights, they get by without being hassled too much.
But on that particular evening, such was not the case. I stood at the velvet gate, baring my stamped wrist, and was told to get into the other line. I thought it was a joke, at first, but upon Albert’s urging, we kept one another company in the massive line to “door left”.
“I’m not in a big hurry to go in there, anyway, man. Let’s catch up!”
By the time we got to the front of the line, the opening band was finishing their set. I was non-plussed, but not exactly surprised. I showed security my stamp, and got a dirty look from all five of them.
“Two pieces of ID please.”
“Well, I’ve been in already; here’s my stamp. But, this is my plus one. He’s got ID.”
“Where’s your ID?”
“Well, I’ve been in already. I started a tab, so my ID is behind the bar. Here’s my stamp, though. That’s what it’s for, right?”
“We need two pieces of ID, sir, regardless as to whether or not you have a stamp.”
“Ummm…. ok. Well, my ID is at the bar. If you go up and ask them…”
“We don’t get paid to walk up and down all those stairs; we get paid to protect the stairs. Step aside, both of you.”
While I was astounded by the injustice I faced that evening, I was also surprised by how quickly I “stepped off”. My resolve dissolved quickly, however; I gave the guy who gave us the boot the finger within striking range as Albert chuckled nervously.
“Fuck this shit man. You fuckers are completely out of line. I’m phonin’ Ron!”
On the fourth ring, Ron answered his phone from the noisy confines of greenroom.
“Who is this?”
“Nick! How goes, brotha? Are you gonna come to the show?”
“Well, I’m here, kinda. But I’ve been kicked out.”
“What? Are you fucking serious?”
“Yeah, man: lame. I was looking forward to seeing ya, but i guess it will have to happen next time! You should play Lucky instead!”
“No, no, no. Hang tight.”
And the bouncers began to banter.
“Oooooo, did you phone Alfons? Are we gonna be in trouble?”
I laughed at first.
“Get the fuck off the block or we will kick your ass!”
Now having been provoked by the people whose job it was to mediate conflict, I reacted. And I snapped.
“You know what? Fuck all of you; all five of you, fuck off!” I was surprised by my own bravery.
Their collective mental process was a bit slow: molasses slow, to be exact. I spoke up well before they summoned the sufficient collective cognitive power to respond.
“Fuck all of you! I hope you know how redundant each and every one of you are! You’re all useless! It galls me to think about how useless every one of you are… so much wasted money. But every one of you will fall, eventually. Don’t think that people aren’t on to what you’re doing here. You’re all as useless as the foreskin on a limp cock! Buh-bye!”
Albert immediately went pale as a ghost. The third bouncer in line confided to his cohorts that he had to go inside to cool off a bit before he commenced punching me out. And so, Albert and I left: he baited me with the promise of a chili-dawg down the block.
I don’t know what happened to change the bouncer’s mind. Maybe Ron talked to them; maybe they just came to their senses, but half a block down the big monkey caught up to my friend and I.
“Ok, You guys are good. Get back there.”
“Are you telling us, or are you asking us?”
“You wanted in. I am telling you to go back in. What’s the problem?”
“The answer is in the question. We took issue with your complete arrogance, and vulgarity tonight. You owe us an apology. If we do not receive an apology, you can go fuck yourself.”
He ground his teeth. Clearly, he was unaccustomed to treating people with dignity.
“Ok. We fucked up; I’m sorry. Now get in there before you miss the show.”
And so, we finally descended the staircase to dance floor. I was full of adrenaline, and commenced drinking more than I should have, and dancing in a way, most irreverent.
I am sure that Sugar Nightclub has security cameras monitoring every angle of the dance floor. I’ve often thought about what these cameras would have recorded that night; I chuckle aloud when thinking such thoughts.
First of all, I was dancing like a maniac. Albert is a trained dancer; he can dance to any style of music, at any given BpM, whereas my approach to dance is more instinctual. We high-fived several times throughout the night, though clearly he was embarrassed to be with an uncoordinated dance hurricane; he left early, taking the paltry remainder of my inhibitions with him.
No longer content to dance in the open space at the back of the room, I pushed my way to the front in order to get a better photo-op. I even tried to convince security that I was entitled to get behind the fenced off area in front of the stage for a better vantage point… they disagreed, and once again threatened to throw me out.
I laughed and headed to the washroom. As I snaked my way against the wall, I came upon a double door and fell on my ass. Luckily most of the crowd was fun-loving; they didn’t judge, and helped me to my feet. It was then that I spotted Victoria’s premier promoter, Alfons Al. He tried to avoid my glance, but I gave him a jubilant bear hug regardless.
“Alfons! How the hell are ya?”
“Good, good. Glad to see ya, Nick. Are you doing a review of the show tonight?”
“Ya man! Better yet, I am going to review the show from the vantage point of beer tub gal!”
He blushed, and looked away,
“Well, that would certainly be an interesting… an interesting angle.”
“Totally joking. Man, I am going to do an expose on the fucking security here. May I ask why you book here? It is a total shithole; you must know that by now.”
And the guard went up.
“What are you talking about?”
“Ummm… well, to start, I was almost thrown out. Everybody I’ve talked to since being here is here despite the fact it is Glucose Nightclub. You must know this; you grew up here, no?”
“Nick, look around you. This is the best venue in town. You’ve been to shows here before– how many great bands have you seen at Glucose, c’mon.”
“No, no, I’m not saying that I’m dissatisfied with the bands you bring here, I’m saying I’m dissatisfied with the venue itself. I could get past the way it smells, the bathroom attendant… maybe even the shitty sound, but Alfons, the bouncers they’ve got in here are total mad-dogs all juiced up on fucking ‘roids and Red Bull. Sugar should fire every single one of them and start from scratch.”
Alfons shook his head vehemently; “Whatever, man. I really think we should just watch the show.”
“You’re right! I hope we’re still friends, bud!”
I gave him another massive bear-hug and ran into the fray, dancing almost as obnoxiously as the hippies around me. I was still full of adrenaline from my encounter, however, and struggled to stay in one place. I shot around the crowd like a pingpong ball, falling several times.
When the show was over, I made haste to the door and sprinted home down Quadra Street in my dress-shoes, sure that the bouncers would be in hot pursuit. I’m still not sure if they’d bothered.