Do you ever get the feeling that your life should be filmed? Something funny has just happened and you want to share it with the rest of the world? E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E should be experiencing what you are so they can know how funny it is?
That’s how life felt, working at a little club down Southsea in Portsmouth, a little club called Route 66.
It wasn’t actually that little at all. It had a reception area, bottom bar, middle bar, top bar/VIP area that was hardly used back in the day, a smoking area outside, and a downstairs cellar and an outdoor cellar.
This place stank like hell on earth and your feet stuck to the floor like you were supposed to be there. And this my friend, was what we called home.
You can ask anyone who has ever worked there what they thought of the place, and no matter how they much they try and insult the club, they insult it with a nostalgic smile. If anywhere was to be filmed, it’d have been Route 66. The team there made it what it was. I have no idea what it’s called now or how it looks, nor do I care because I don’t want to lose the memory of what it was like to me.
So, back in early 2007 I was out with friends at a nightclub, dressed as a pirate, on the toilet, when I noticed a sign on the back of the door asking for workers. I raced to the reception area and filled out a form. I’d never poured a pint before so I don’t know what I was thinking – I was dressed as a pirate, so anything was possible. I was told years later that I’d only got the job because my answer to Describe yourself in five words made the manager laugh. I wrote, I am obsessed with post-it notes.
Thing is, the place might have been a crap-hole but the people there became family. You knew where you were with them. You spent most of your time with your colleagues that you had no choice but to become friends with them. Some possibly even more…
Where else can you get away with spending the night in a jacuzzi on the dance floor and call it work AND get paid for it? Where else can you have a lock-in and drink the place dry – even if the club hadn’t had a good night? Where else can you get away with having a waterfight
If you didn’t like the look of someone or they were giving you hell, it was easy to get rid of them. The power you had by just making eye contact with the burly doormen (who of course were really big soft men, isn’t that right Bard…?) who would pick up anyone you pointed to and throw them out, was incredible.
Working at Route 66 would leave you feeling invincible by the end of the night, and of course knackered. But it’s what we lived for. The free food from the chicken place next door helped of course if you made friends with them.
For those few hours a night working behind the bar, all your worries, stresses and uni work were all forgotten. It was like being in another world where you didn’t have to grow up. You were accepted for who you were.
The people you met there were for keeps, you didn’t really get a choice. Who else would drive from Portsmouth to Croydon to come drag you back to Route, with a white bed sheet on the bonnet, and sprawled in paint: “Tribe on Tour, Bringing Annie Home”?
Your new family become your life.
If you weren’t working together, you were spending your time with them in The Goose eating chocolate fudge cake without your hands.
You were downing VK’s and shots in V Bar on your night off.
You were in town buying your next fancy dress for a night coming up.
We all knew at work, if you had the supervisor’s key. You were boss. It didn’t matter who you were or what you were doing, if the supervisor had to leave the bar and gave you the key while they were gone, you were in charge. And no one could mess with you. So you can imagine how I felt when I was made supervisor. No more messing around…As if!
The pay was low, the hours crap but the atmosphere and comradery made up for it. If it hadn’t have been for Route 66, I wouldn’t be able to tell the funny stories that have happened to me. I wouldn’t have met the people I call my closest friends. Hell, if it wasn’t for Route 66, I wouldn’t have met my other half.
So in memory of Route 66, I’d like to thank all those who worked there and made the worst job ever become one of the best I’ve ever had.