Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hip Hop at the Supper Club Part 1

It was back in the early 90's and I was working at Supper Club on West 47th in Manhattan's Theater District. It was a good gig, pleasant, there was a 10 piece Big Band on stage and in between sets they would roll videos of 30's and 40's music, kind of MTV for the nostalgic and the geriatric. As for me, I was in a great spot, working on the main bar five nights a week, wearing a white dinner jacket and bow tie, shaking the martinis, flirting with the waitresses and being well paid for my trouble. Of course there was trouble in paradise, and a lot I didn't know; like the club was ridiculously expensive to run, an outdated and untenable business model which the owners had not foreseen and at first did not acknowledge.  Instead they went through manager after manager, blaming each one in turn for the financial shortcomings of the club. And then one day they hired a tall, thin, Swedish hipster named Rick and with him a bunch of downtown club guys. At first I couldn't figure it out because for the initial week, after an inaugural visit, we didn't see the new GM at all. His boys did hang around but they didn't interfere with any of the operations or even mix with any of the staff, instead they left the day to day operations to the manager Joe, who had always handled them, and they kept to the office, looking fabulous and talking on the phones.
I showed for work on the first Friday of the week that the Swede took control of the club. I picked out a white dinner jacket that would fit me and looked up Joe, the floor manager, to get my briefing for the night.
"Well, J.R.," he said, pushing his horn rimmed glasses further up the bridge of his long nose, "We've got a party of forty at 8pm. They're going straight to the tables but we need to set aside a case of Grigich Hills to pour for their dinner and then there's a party of thirty at 8:30 and they have a cocktail hour. It's open bar, but only up to premium, I don't want any one drinking the fucking Louis 13th or those expensive fucking grappas."   Joe, who could be an arrogant prick, then turned his back on me to indicate that the interview was over so I turned to go, but then he called me back in the absent minded way of one who has forgotten something, "Oh and J.R., I almost forgot, can you get the bus boys organized for me around 11pm, we're going to flip the whole place over into a party room at mid-night, we're going to have a DJ and we need to get the tables and chairs out. You don't mind working late do you J.R.?"
Well I didn't, it all sounded like extra money to me so I responded cheerfully, "Any love is good love man. Who's the party for?"
"Well it's not going to be a party exactly, J.R., more like an event, cash bar. You've heard of Russell Simmons or Funk Master Flex?"
Well I hadn't, so I shrugged.
He shrugged back, "Neither have I. Well, that's it." He concluded and turned away.


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