The Secret Diary Of A Nightclub Bar Tender

There's always someone watching when you're losing your mind on the dancefloor.

It’s Friday evening and you’ve got your dancing shoes on

This is an excuse to forget your miserable existence. It’s time to get into all kinds of inebriated states.

Tomorrow, you’ll hope nobody will remember you stubbing that cig out when the bouncer caught you smoking inside, or desperately attempting to make out with your mate who let’s face it, probably might not even go near you sober.

But it’s OK! These things can be forgotten, left in the dark haze of tomorrow’s hangover. Nobody will remember.

Except me.

As a bartender, I am the lone, sober soul. The voyeur on the outside of the bubble of thriving debauchery. I’ve seen some things that really stick in the brain.

Let’s go on a journey through the bad, good and downright strange things you learn from working in clubs.

Heat & noise ain’t fun

After a day of being unable to hear my own thoughts, I realise that tinnitus isn’t enjoyable and that earplugs are a necessity. I quickly learn to lip read.

There’s this permanent wall of heat engulfing the bartenders, coming from air dense with a cocktail of sweat and incense. It’s not a good combination.

Breaks are spent sitting amongst thousands of coats in an oven like alcove- it’s a furnace-come-padded cell and that’s before you’ve even factored in a sound system so powerful the entire alcove vibrates. Are those palpitations? Yes, they are.

A minority of customers are obnoxious wankers

For example: Posers who spend their night arguing over whether that tune was released late 2011 or early 2012, and having conversations that always end in ‘…but you probably won’t have heard of them’. Stop being a pretentious wank and just have a wee dance!

Then there are nights where gaggles of white chicks wearing bindi’s/choker chains/triple buns ALL come in at once. Could we be more contrived (and culturally insensitive) if we tried guys?

Finally, from the people who are rude to bar staff to the people who are rude to each other and people who are leery/pervy:

Don’t be those guys.


Rant over – let’s acknowledge the incredible things about working in a club. (Because really, most of the time spent looking sad is primarily because being on the other side of the bar is much more fun.) 

You hear cutting edge music all the time:

Hearing new tunes before release and seeing astounding local and international talent in a hub of creativity is absolutely incredible.

Music evokes emotion and during a night spent behind the bar in a nightclub, you can span a plethora of emotions. From the weird atmospheric stuff at the beginning of the evening to the end when the crowd are thudding their fists against the roof (with hectic techno, ethereal house and even Toto-Africa, in between) it’s an atmosphere second to none.

The people you work with are great:

People I’ve worked with have been the most talented, interesting folk. From producing their own tunes to making zines, many work part time in clubs to fuel their artistic passions. Most of all they really care about the music.

The vast majority of customers are pretty sound too:

They’re laughing, smiling, dancing, and having a jolly old time.


Clubs are a haven for odd, wondrous underbellies and everything this encapsulates, from behaviour you’d never get anywhere else to the strange objects you find on the floor at the end of the night.

A non-conclusive list includes:

Condoms (some opened), mangled hair extensions, puddles, a permanent brown sludge, a bottle of shampoo, a Barbie (even more mangled than the hair extensions), bits of the roof that have fallen down, too many poppers.

Water on tap is a strange necessity:


From around half 1, the strange magic would unfurl and all too suddenly you were confronted with a wall of bumbling zombies, all chanting the same mantra.

‘water’ ‘water’ ‘water’ ‘water’ ‘water’ ‘water’ ‘water’ ‘rum and coke’ ‘water’ …

Observing some interesting behaviour:

Just about every kind of dafty will be present in an electronic venue, from the ones still dancing on their tod when the music’s finished to the ones you have to bash the toilet door down to get to at the end of the night as they’re ‘just chilling’.

So, having ventured through the good, bad and strange, what have I learned that would make for useful advice?

Well, try to not be a wanker (vast majority are not), probably don’t bring your shampoo, definitely take it home with you if you do bring it cause I don’t really want it, tip your bartender handsomely (wink wink nudge nudge) and most of all, have a good night!

Written By Hannah Thompson

Further weighing in on club culture:

The Worst DJs To See Live (According To Reddit)

The Do's and Don'ts Of DJ Booth Etiquette

What Will Become of Gay Clubbing In The Capital?

20 Nov 2015