Monday, October 22, 2007

Bliss Nightlife

It's been over three months since I posted last. The first month was basically same "stuff", different club. If you've been reading my blog for the past year or two you should have a good idea what I'm talking about. I'll try to keep it short since it's not fun for me to relive it but I've got three months of catching up to do so here we go...

There are three couples that own Bliss Nightlife - Wes & Angie, Ben & Connie, and Ryan & Kim. All of them, with the exception of Wes, are nice people but none of them have any experience working in night clubs. When I met with Wes back in June I explained to him that I was getting paid $12.50 an hour full-time at Teleperformance so he would need to pay me more than that to get me to come work for him. After talking to Wes, I talked to Phil and he said that he would talk to Wes and convince him to pay me well. The following week Phil made a contract stating what my salary and responsibilities were and said he would have Wes sign it. I edited my contract to clarify that it was for working 3 days per week but Phil said I didn't need that. I later found out why.

On Thursday, July 10th I found out that Teleperformance wasn't going to get the schedule change that I had requested so I gave my 2 weeks notice. Because the owners and Phil were worried about Travis breaking into the club or having someone break into the club for him I slept at the club almost every night from Thursday, July 5th until Tuesday July 10th. They had an alarm system but the cameras didn't get installed until July 10th. During that time the girls that I hired to work at Voodoo (the 18+ part of Bliss Nightlife that I was hired to manage), a couple of the Security guys, and I cleaned and painted Voodoo. I also helped a little bit with getting Bliss Nightlife set up.

Bliss Nightlife and Voodoo had their Unveiling Party on Wednesday, July 11th. Bliss Nightlife opened at 8 and Voodoo opened at 10. After spending all day at the club, I went home to take a shower. When I got back, around 7:45, it was a mess. There was Security outside to I.D. and search people but there wasn't any Security by the front desk where the Door Girls sold memberships and collected the cover charge. There also weren't any Security on some of the doors. I brought this to Judah's attention and helped him get those spots covered. They also didn't have the stanchions set up inside to separate the regular line from the VIP line so I set those up. The owners had told Phil that they had already hired Door Girls so we didn't hire any at either Job Fair. When we opened the doors at 8 there was only 1 Door Girl there. I had anticipated being understaffed for Door Girls for Bliss Nightlife so I had asked Ally, who was over 21 but had applied to work for Voodoo because we had hired everyone we needed for Bliss Nightlife (except for Security) at the first Job Fair, to come in and be prepared to work as a Door Girl. She had been helping us get ready in the afternoon so she had gone home to change. Brandy, who was going to be a Door Girl and train the other Door Girls on how to use Doormate (the computer program that tracked memberships), wasn't going to be able to come in until later. Angie, who was also Wes's Personal Assistant for his other business, was there so I showed her how to use Doormate. She didn't have any pens to write down the Guest List for employees so I sent Mark, one of the Security guys that we had hired, to the convenience store a block away to get pens. My ladies from Voodoo were making name tags for all of the employees. The next 2 hours were crazy - I helped out in different areas making sure things were running smoothly.

Around 10:00 I programmed the cash registers for the Energy Bars at Voodoo and helped the ladies set up the Energy Bars. I was relying on Dan to be my main Bouncer at the door. I had to go find him because he was wandering around the club. I had another Bouncer searching people. Brad, who had worked for Vortex before, was on the checkpoint at Voodoo's main entrance that led upstairs to Bliss nightlife. His job was to make sure that no one under 21 got upstairs and no alcoholic drinks came downstairs. He did a good job. Misty, who I had hired as my Assistant, and Kendra were my Door Girls. They both did a great job. Part way through the night Misty pointed out a lady who had been drinking alcohol. I "interviewed" her, smelled alcohol on her, and kicked her out. Later on Misty noticed that a lady who had come in through Voodoo's entrance earlier, which meant that she was under 21 since we sent people 21 and over to Bliss Nightlife's entrance, re-enter through Voodoo's entrance later on with a stamp from Bliss Nightlife. I asked her for her I.D. but, what a surprise, she "didn't have it" (she didn't want to show me her I.D. showing that she was under 21). I kicked her out. She was with one of Rocky's friends. Rocky is one of the guys that cleans the club. Rocky's friend almost got kicked out for arguing with me when I was kicking out his underage friend. The night went smoothly besides those two incidents and the initial chaos. Bliss Nightlife was very busy. Voodoo was very slow - that's what happens when you do very little promotion.

Club Vortex used to be in the building where Bliss nightlife is now. Before I ran Security there, when I just did Security for the Go-go Dancers and VIPs, the whole bottom level, including the patio, was 18+. When we opened Voodoo on Wednesday the patio was 18+. There is a balcony overlooking the patio that is part of Bliss Nightlife. Since it was very slow at Voodoo on Wednesday the owners decided to make the entire patio 21+ on Friday. This meant that Voodoo was only 1 room on the bottom level.

The next day we were open, Friday July 13th, was our Grand Opening with D.J. Skribble. Bliss Nightlife was packed. I helped get things straightened out again from 8:30 until 10:00 since Bliss opened at 9:00 and Voodoo didn't open until 10:00. Voodoo was very slow again. If they had promoted Voodoo they way they should have it would have been packed too. Because Bliss Nightlife was packed and Voodoo was slow, and because one of Bliss's Door Guys called me up there to help enforce the dress code, and because the sidewalk was blocked which we can get cited for, I walked around from Voodoo's entrance on the north end of the building to Bliss's entrance on the east side of the building a few times to help control the crowd. One of the times I went up there Wes told me to go back to Voodoo and I did.

Around 11:00 D.J. Skribble arrived and he came in Voodoo's entrance since it wasn't busy. I helped escort him up to the D.J. booth. Then I went back down to Voodoo. A little bit later Phil came down and told me to go find Georgio, one of the barbacks from Vortex that he had fired, and bring him downstairs. I found a roaming Bouncer, found Georgio, told him that he had to leave, and walked him down to Voodoo's entrance where Phil, Wes, and Judah were waiting for him. Phil told him that they had busted his underage friend using his I.D. that he had given him to get into Bliss. He told him to go away and never come near the club again.

Dan, who had been my I.D. guy at the door and who I had told I was relying on to run my door had been missing most of the night. I had replaced him earlier on when I realized he was missing. I had also sent of of my Bouncers to go look for him and tell him to come back down. He didn't come back down. I eventually went upstairs to go find him. While I was looking for him Wes grabbed me by the arm and asked what I was doing up there. I pulled my arm away. He told me to come talk to him. We stepped off to the side and he started yelling at me. He asked why I was upstairs. I told him that Dan, one of my Door Guys, had left his post and I was looking for him. He said, "So your door guy left his post and you left the door to go look for him?" I told him that I had 5 people on my door (I had the I.D. guy, the Searcher, the guy watching the checkpoint going from Bliss to Voodoo, my Door Girl Kendra, and my assistant Misty). He yelled at me and told me to get back downstairs. I later found out that Judah had told one of his roamers to go bring one of my guys upstairs. The roamer pulled Dan upstairs. They should have checked with me first. Even if they hadn't checked with me someone with common sense would have pulled a roamer, not someone on a post, especially not someone posted at the main entrance.

Although Bliss was packed we didn't have any major incidents, at least none that I'm aware of. The Assistant Head of Security, Mikey, who I had worked with at Vortex and Axis, busted 2 or 3 underage ladies in Bliss that had come in through Bliss's front door (they had the Bliss stamp) and kicked them out. Voodoo was extremely slow again. At the end of the night the owners decided to close down Voodoo because they didn't think that the risk of getting shut down if a minor got upstairs was worth the relatively small amount of profit Voodoo would make. Wes told Phil to tell me that the ladies would get their paychecks on Monday. I called all of them and told them the bad news. They felt like the owners had wasted their time. They felt like the owners didn't promote it properly and by only giving it two days they didn't give it a fair chance. I agreed with them. The ladies wanted to make fliers and promote it themselves. Kendra wanted to talk to Ben about it so I called him and asked him to call her about it. I don't know if he did. Wes didn't want Voodoo there in the first place. He had made that abundantly clear to me before we opened. I'm sure that he was the main one pushing to kill it after only 2 days.

The beginning was the best part of working at the club because of the ladies that I was managing. I really enjoyed working with Misty, Kendra, Nixie, Cassie, Alyse, Erin, Ashlie, and Kira. Misty was a lot of help and her presence helped me deal with all of the chaos of opening the club. I still talk to her on a regular basis. Felisha, who had worked at Vortex and Vortex 2K6, was bossy and a little bit snobby so she didn't get along with some of the ladies. I had talked to a trusted source and found out that she had been fired from Vortex 2K6 because she was "accused of stealing". I told Phil this after he had hired her but he just blew me off and said that people don't always say nice things about people after they are no longer working somewhere.

Since Voodoo was no longer open I did Security for Bliss on Saturday. My friend Ed, who had done promotions for all of the other clubs Phil and I worked at, as well as Club Manhattan and The Hotel/ Elevate, was the VIP Host for Bliss. He wanted me to do Security for the VIPs. When I told Judah what Ed wanted he told me that he would rather have me roam around and make sure that all of the Bouncers were where they were supposed to be. Although Wes didn't want me to be in any kind of supervisory position, Judah realized that with my experience, attitude, and work ethic I was a good person to have in the position that he gave me. Most people in the night club industry would refer to my position as a Security Lead so that's what I referred to myself as.

On Monday Phil told me that the checks for the ladies from Bliss weren't going to be ready until Tuesday so i called them all and let them know. On Tuesday Phil told me that they wouldn't be available until Wednesday. On Wednesday afternoon I got to the club before Wes did. When the checks showed up Wes wasn't there to sign them. After Angie called him to tell him that the checks were there waiting for his signature Wes didn't get there until more than 2 hours later. Kendra got there before he did. When he walked in he didn't even ask about the checks. He had bought a remote control boat to play with in the "water feature" (pool) out on the patio. He sat down and started putting it together. I went to the office to get the checks and brought them to him. He set them down and continued playing with his boat and chatting with some of the other employees. After chatting with some of the employees he talked to a guy that wanted to do a fire show. He eventually got around to singing the checks more than 30 minutes after he showed up. His attitude about the Voodoo employees paychecks was a good indication of how little he cared about his employees getting paid for the rest of the time that I worked there.

My check for the work I had done between June 15th and June 31st was supposed to be given to me on July 5th but Phil hadn't submitted my hours to the payroll company. He had payed me for the 2nd Job Fair which was mostly for Voodoo out of his own pocket on July 5th because Wes refused to pay me for that one (further evidence that he didn't want Voodoo to succeed). That check bounced and I got over $300 in overdraft fees because of it. Phil covered the bounced check and only payed a little bit of overdraft fees. Oh, by the way, Key Bank is evil!!!

After he gave me the paychecks for the ladies and I gave them to the ladies that were there I asked him where my check was and he said we had to talk about it. He then went back out by the pool to play with his boat and chat with some of the employees. When he eventually took the time to talk to me he wanted me to explain what this check was for. I explained it to him and he said that he would have to talk to Phil about it before he decided to give it to me. He also said that since Voodoo was closed I was no longer a Manager. I was just a Security Guard but my pay would stay the same. I told him that Phil had me doing extra stuff like maintaining the club's MySpace, being in charge of setting up the tables and stools for Ultimate Combat, and other stuff. He told me that if Phil wanted me to do extra stuff then Phil would have to pay me for it. I also told him that Judah had me making sure that the other Bouncers were on there posts and doing their jobs. Wes said he would talk to Judah about that. To get my check I ended up having to come back to the club at 3 AM after getting off work and going home.

Here is a summary of the next month:

  • Because Phil told Wes that my salary was based on us being open 4 days per week (which they planned on eventually doing and are now open 5 days) in order to make it look like he was getting a better deal, my pay got cut when Wes switched me to hourly - so he lied when he said my pay would stay the same
  • Wes micro-managed everyone that worked for him; when I manage employees I hire competent people and let them do their jobs; although you do need to monitor your employees, you don't need to micro-manage their every move
  • Wes overrode me when I wanted to 86 Manu, who happened to be Judah's cousin, because of previous problems we had with him
  • Larry, who had replaced Mikey as Assistant Head of Security because Mikey couldn't work all three nights that we were open, overrode me and Judah backed him up when I wanted to keep a group that we had kicked out for fighting from re-entering; two hours later they were involved in a shooting around the corner from the club
  • Wes and I butted heads because he disliked me, I'm opinionated, and he's insecure
  • Too many chiefs - 6 owners that couldn't get on the same page
  • The paychecks that were supposed to be paid on July 15th were 1 or 2 days late
  • We brought my friend DJ Miss Joy to Bliss on Friday, July 29th - best night at Bliss for me

Since August 5th was on a Sunday, we got our paychecks on Monday, August 6th. I deposited my check on Monday. On Tuesday one of the bouncers, R.C. called me and left me a message saying that he couldn't cash his check at Check City (a check cashing store) because of previous bounced checks. He also said that when he went to Bliss's bank they could not cash the check because of insufficient funds. Another bouncer, Ephraim, sent me a text message saying that he couldn't cash his check at the club's bank because of insufficient funds. I called Phil and he said that he couldn't cash his check either and he didn't have any control over the club's bank account so I called Ben. He told me that the club's account was supposed to pull from one of the owner's personal accounts when there was insufficient funds. (When I called the club's bank the next day they said that was not the case). I explained to Ben that it wouldn't do any good for people that went straight to the club's bank to cash their checks. He said he would look into it.

On Wednesday I called my bank to see if my paycheck had cleared. I found out that it was being returned. I called Bliss's bank and they said that although there was not enough money in the account to cover the check before, there was enough money now and suggested I have my bank resend the check. I called my bank and requested that they resend the check. They did and it cleared. I called Ben to let him know what was going on. He didn't answer his phone so I called Wes. When I told Wes what happened his attitude was basically "It cleared now, so what's your problem?". I asked him if everyone else's checks were going to clear. He asked why I was asking about other employee's paychecks. I told him that it was because they were calling and texting me asking me why their checks weren't cashing. He asked why they were calling me. I told him that it was probably because I knew Phil and I usually knew what was going on. He said "Don't mess with my payroll". I said "I'm not messing with your payroll. I just want us to get paid". He again said "Don't mess with my payroll" and hung up on me. I called him back but he didn't answer.

I then sent a text message to some of the employees that said "Your checks will clear now. If your check was returned, have your bank resend it.". Within 10 minutes Larry called me and told me that Wes said that they were going to have to let me go for insubordination because I had texted the employees about their paychecks. I resisted the urge to laugh at the ridiculousness of their reason for firing me. After I got off the phone with Larry, I called Ben. He said that just one owner couldn't make that decision, it had to be a group decision. He told me that he would talk to Wes about it. Later on Wes called me and told me that Ben was not only his business partner, he was also his best friend and he supported his decision to fire me. I called Ben but he didn't answer. I called Phil and he didn't answer. I texted him telling him what had happened and he replied that he couldn't do anything about it.

To be continued...