February 02, 2005

Swanky to Skanky

It wasn't long after Dillinger's opened (see previous post) when word had spread of this lovely high-class nightclub and we were full to capacity every night of the week. I worked every one of those nights, from the beginning to the end of its lifetime. I wasn't a workaholic ~ I was a dollar-holic. I had just moved to the area and had no social life at all, knew only a handful of people and needed a new car sometime soon. From six at night till three in the morning, Dillinger's was my 10-20 (cop talk for "location").

The place was thriving but months down the road, the owner got greedy. It was all downhill from there. It wasn't enough to have couples coming in decked out in their finest clothes and milling about enjoying cocktails and good company, filling the dancefloor and quite often closing the place. Phil (fake name) wanted more. We had a mandatory meeting one afternoon and everyone was to brainstorm ideas for drink specials and/or theme nights. We were a nice blend of people from all walks of life. Everyone jotted down suggestions and they were all tossed into a bucket. Donny (not a fake name) was our resident metal head, so it was no big surprise when he came up with "Metal Monday." Joey (real) was one of our deejays and he thought there should be a "Ladies Drink Free" night. Some bonehead tossed in a carelessly scribbled "Male Strippers Night" and someone else threw in "Jello Wrestling." When "Jazz and Big Band" was read aloud, all eyes glared at me; everyone knew my preference. Thinking back on it now, maybe my idea wasn't such a bad one. There were several other suggestions, some interesting and some pathetic, and Phil decided he'd think it all over for a few days.

As it turned out, he decided to go with several different themes; Metal Monday, Nickel Tuesday (all beer at a nickel a glass), Jello Wrestling on Wednesdays, Male Strippers on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays were regular deejay nights with drink specials to be announced throughout the evening, and Sunday was kick-back night ~ in other words, nothing special at all, just a deejay.

Well, Metal Mondays turned out to be a disaster for me. Being a musical soul, I can listen to almost anything for a certain amount of time... but when the crashing volume picks me up off my feet and carries me straight into a migraine, no thank you. It was a Monday night when someone winged a beer bottle in my general direction. Drug deals were going down in the hallways and bathroom as though there were signs pointing the way. Don't get me wrong ... many good and nice people came solely to enjoy the bands and socialize, but there were also the rowdies. GOD were there rowdies! I can't tell you how many cat fights I had to break up.

Tuesday night became a barf fest. I never pushed so much brew so fast in my life! Our doormen usually had to carry out at least three people during the course of the night and stick them in cabs. The destination was usually quite simple ~ "Submarine Base."

Wednesdays were a particular treat (insert intensely sarcastic tones). I'm not sure where these "ladies" came from, but there were dozens of them lining up in their bikinis to make complete jackasses out of themselves. Some of them were actually beautiful and bright girls; others were as dumb as a bag of nails. Jello wrestling is pretty disgusting when you have to help clean up at the end of the night.
On one Wednesday, I was rather busy at my bar and feeling pretty run down. I walked into the kitchen and was immediately handed a hose (we didn't sell food, the kitchen was our break room, our chill out room, and the place where we stored stirrers, glassware, napkins and such). The bar back raced back outside to hang out with his friends, and in walked two women, covered in jello from head to toe. They stepped into the small pool we had in there, looked at me and said "okay let's go." I can't tell you what a proud moment it was for me as I hosed jello off these two completely drunken dizzballs. Soon after, two more came in and at that point, I placed the hose on the side of the sink, quietly exited the room and headed back to the bar to replace my relief person. I told her there was a surprise for her in the kitchen. From across the room about ten minutes later, I could see her flipping me off with great enthusiasm.

Thursdays were simply amazing. I will admit that the eye candy was somewhat of a brief treat, but watching the way the women were throwing themselves at these buff dancers got old mighty fast. I've never treated paper money in quite the same way since those days. You really never do know exactly where it's been. Think about it. Ewww.

Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays fast became my favorite nights to work at the club. Nothing too terribly loud or atrocious was going to be happening, and I could always count on tons of tips. People talked more ... they weren't as preoccupied with a "show" or a performing band.

One trick I learned at the club was how to marry the booze. This is done for one reason, to save money. A LOT of money. Buyer beware! Marrying booze is a simple, underhanded process. The bartenders get into the club about an hour before opening and take bottom shelf bottles and marry them with (pour them into) top shelf stuff, topping off the half empty bottles. Only a well seasoned drinker ever picks up on this. It's tough to tell the difference once it's blended, and without a forensics lab, it's just about impossible to prove. I, personally, refused to take part in this ritual, but most of the crew went right along with it.

Dillinger's died about a year after it opened. A big part of that was the owner's greed. I believe it was ten years later when he finally got out of jail. We employees always suspected Phil's abuse of elicit drugs, but I don't know that any of us knew to what extent he was involved. Apparently he was quite the little kingpin.

Every now and again I'll run into one of the old Dillinger's crew. We did have some fun times while the place was still classy. We made a lot of money and loved the social aspect ... but we're all awfully glad we didn't end up going down with the ship.


Blogger Wally said...


A very entertaining and funny story!
I'm still trying (while laughing), to visualize you hosing the jello off those... "two completely drunken dizzballs."? A sticky situation, indeed!

*Did you make it a habit of "laundering" your tip money on those Thursday "buff dancer" nights? ;-)

3:37 AM  
Blogger brooksba said...


Great post, yet again. I loved the imagery and the stories. I also want to start using the term "dizzball" in every day language.

About the paper money - it is disgusting. I used to be a bank teller and it didn't matter how much I washed my hands, they were always dirty. I had actually heard at one time 8 out of 10 American bills in circulation have traces of illegal narcotics on them. That's not refreshing to know.

Dillinger's had a metal night? I would think Jazz and Big Band would have been better. I just don't see a gangster's moll head banging. Maybe that's just me.

Keep the great posts coming!


3:50 AM  
Blogger Swifty said...

How can you keep doing this so consistently? It seems so effortless. Psst! This is in confidence - how do you fancy doing some writing for me? Only until I get over my writer's block - hehe

3:57 AM  

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