Nightlife is a big part of our city.
Montrealers are known for their love of a good party, regardless of the season. Indeed, Montreal natives know how to throw it down when it comes to the club scene.
The nightlife and entertainment sector employs thousands of people. And, naturally, the glamour of the club floor conceals some pretty ugly truths behind the scenes that only employees may witness.
There are so many rumours that float around our city in regards to what really goes down among the flashing lights, which is why we thought it would be interesting to speak to those who have worked in the industry.
These confessions have been kept anonymous to protect the privacy of each employee.
I didn't know what to expect when I started writing this article but I knew it was going to be fun.
I asked my subjects, to tell me the first thing that came to mind when they thought about their career in our city's nightlife and the range of answers I got were pretty astonishing.
From "I hate my job" (bouncer) to "I have the greatest job in the world" (owner), I was able to gain a better idea of what truly goes on in the club.
I always wondered what it was like to be a barmaid. There are girls from all different "crews" and I was always curious to know if they all got along.
“There are always alliances, there were real housewife style fights as we counted the cash..drunk girls are always fighting over dumb shit” (barmaid).
...well that answered my question!
Some people took the time to tell me about their specific roles in the industry.
“I did it for the music, not for the recognition I got, I mean the recognition was good, but not as good as the mucic” (DJ).
Bouncers also seem to have a range on conceptions about their jobs. While some seem to enjoy their power, another seems somewhat regretful about the attitude that the job necessitates.
“I am the person you want to suck up to, I open the doors, literally” (bouncer).
"I have nothing to say about this industry, all I can say is that it pays the bills" (bouncer).
“People think I am an asshole, the job forces you to be a dick” (bouncer).
I also learned that sometimes achieving your dream is not all it cracks up to be.
“It was my dream to own a club in Montreal. Now that I do, it is my dream to get out of it” (owner).
But then again, some night life workers have bigger dreams.
"I am only doing this until my acting career takes off" (bouncer).
The cold reality is that I also heard a lot of negative things, things that really pained me.
One waitress even stated “I honestly feel like I have blocked that part of my life out.” She continued: “nothing you haven’t heard before, managers pushing you to sell anything you can on grandprix…if you catch my drift.”
Another woman told me “One thing I learnt is that men cheat” (waitress).
One busboy claimed “Montreal nightlife is literally the devil's playground” and his friend and fellow busboy then added, “if I didn’t work in a club, then I would have never started doing drugs.”
Even an owner of a popular club seemed to be addicted to the lifestyle: “I am so over it. The booze, the late nights, the women…but it’s like a drug, I can’t seem to find the power to stay away from it” (owner).
However, the industry doesn't seem to be all that bad for everyone. One waitress said “it’s good money if you have tough skin and a hotbody,” not sure if that is super positive, but she said it!
I found it surprising that some people acted as though nightlife was in a sense a saving grace for them.
“It’s the only place I feel empowered” (barmaid).
“I have a lot of social problems and working in a nightclub helped me get through that. I’m sure a lot of people are going to tell you horror stories so I thought I should say something good about night life” (busboy).
“The club is a place [that] some may consider evil. But in reality it’s the only place where you can let your insecurities go and allow the music to free your soul...it is an escape for a lot of us” (busboy).
“People think that because I’m behind a bar that my standards in men are low. It’s actually the opposite, I’ve seen so much that not much impresses me now” (barmaid).
Hard work is definetly part of the Montreal nightlife scene. The shifts are long, the hours are late and there are a lot of factors working against you.
“I started promoting and now I am an owner. If you put in the time and stay true to your values, it is a great industry, if you don’t it will eat you alive” (owner).
Some people took the time to share some random thoughts about the clientele.
"I learned that French customers get pissed if you say Hi before you say Bonjour” (waitress).
“Did you know that some people tip BEFORE tax?” (waitress).
Also, did you guys know that DJ's are very aggressive when it comes to their mixer, as one DJ wanted to make sure I included, "my mixer is not your coaster" (DJ).
To end on a positive, I thought I would share the funniest things I heard throughout this process.
“One time, I was working and couldn’t leave the booth. I had to pee so bad and I knew there was no way I could make it to the bathroom before my next mix. I ended up peeing in an ice bucket” (DJ).
“You find really good shit after the lights come on like bras, extensions, eyelashes, etc.” (barmaid).
"I was hired to be a host...I still don't know what that meant" (host).
“I’ve cleaned up more strangers puke then I have my own” (busboy).
In the end, the quote that stood out the most to me had to do with the change in not only nightlife, but in society as a whole.
“Montreal nightlife is not what it used to be. I remember it being about the party and the music and of course the dancing. Now, all I see are people on their phones, not living in the moment, not being present. Also, no one dances anymore…it makes me sad for this generation” (DJ).
Do you feel like Montreal nightlife has changed? If you work in Montreal nightlife, we'd love to hear from you! Send us a message @mtlblog on Instagram!