Friday, June 3, 2011
I wanted to clear the air about Speakeasy for a minute and give everyone the rundown on what happened at The Office, what’s happened since the open-mic’s been off, and what people can expect in the future. A lot has been said about exactly what happened, so I figured I would take the time to lay things out accurately.
We did our last Speakeasy on March 9th. Cynthia wasn’t behind the bar that night, and I believe it was Robin’s first or second night as a bartender.
The following morning, I received a message from Ann, who was a bartender at The Office at the time. She sent me the following:
Dammitann Warren March 10 at 2:04am Report
I am not getting good reports from what went down tonight. Sorry to message so late but I asked Robin to bartend as a favor to me so I could have a night off this week and she was not treated very well and neither were the people she was serving. Cynthia is not available this week and I have stepped in to keep things rolling so this was not cool. I hope this was just a bad night and not the normal. I like you Christian and I respect what you trying to do but the Office is a bar and people like to get drunk without being harassed. I would hope that is understood. I'll be in touch. Thank you, Ann
Sent via Facebook Mobile
After reading her message, I sent her this:
Christian Collier March 10 at 4:50pm
How was Robin not treated well? I asked her about how things were afterwards, and she didn't express that she'd been treated poorly, so I find that surprising.
Honestly, I’m also surprised about the reports about the drinkers. You’re absolutely right about people having the right to drink without being harassed. However, no one from Speakeasy harassed anyone.
I wish I knew names, but the Indian woman, her Mexican friend, an older Marine, and a belligerent Caucasian man were at the bar. They only stayed through our first four acts, which consisted of two musicians and two comedians.
The Indian woman (who I like and have spoken to on several occasions) was loud from the beginning. She mentioned that she started drinking at 4. When her Mexican friend arrived, that’s when things progressed.
I always begin Speakeasy with asking everyone to please respect our talent. I went up to the bar during our 2nd performer’s set and asked respectfully if they could quiet down some because a lot of people in our crowd couldn’t hear. No one had a problem except the Mexican woman, who turned to me and scoffed, “Seriously?”
While our comedians were performing, everyone except the Marine at the bar was loud. The comedians also asked if they could be quiet. I, then, heard the Mexican woman and the drunk white guy go back and forth heckling them. Some of what they said was immensely rude. At one point, the Mexican woman yelled out that Willie B. was from the ghetto, which was completely uncalled for and disheartening.
After their set, Dana Rogers came up to play. The Mexican lady continued dogging our comedians and our open-mic, although she liked Dana. As soon as Dana was done, they got up to leave, and I commented that we have been doing Speakeasy at The Office for over six months now. We have always been respectful of everyone, and if people have an issue with what we do, they should consider avoiding Wednesday nights.
I agree that what you heard wasn’t cool, but it’s also skewed. If you’d like, I can ask some of the people who were there and sober to write statements of what took place.
Matt spoke with me briefly about what happened, and I was honest with him. Out of the time that we’ve been at The Office, do you find it remotely interesting that we finally get negative reports? It’s not and has not been consistent with how we operate. The vast majority of people who attend or happen to be in the crowd at Speakeasy have fun and are respectful. We love being there, we enjoy the staff, etc. I’m just surprised that an issue seems to be being made where, in my opinion, there really isn’t one.
Matt has offered to intervene in the future if there’s an issue with belligerence and heckling, which I appreciate. Perhaps that will solve any future discrepancies.
Hope this helps.
Later on on the 10th, my good friend Travis asked me if I saw what Ann put on her Facebook page. I told him that I hadn’t, so he sent me link. I came across the following:
From now on, I take no prisoners. Life is not summer camp, people. I don't need to be popular. I'm getting tired of being 'nice'. If I am your friend, believe me, you already know it. Peace.
Yesterday at 4:00am via iPhone •LikeUnlike • • View Feedback (5)Hide Feedback (5)
2 people like this.
Thanks for watching my back. Wednesday ain't nothing I can't handle ♥
Yesterday at 4:17am • LikeUnlike
That I know for sure and I was just raging for our girl and regs too, you know? And YOU can handle anything, you work at CC! ♥ u Matt.
Yesterday at 4:24am • LikeUnlike
Ashely Brooke Derrick
I love you Annie!
All of this was really surprising to me, because it just seemed like everyone assumed we were guilty of something. What I found very interesting was that none of the owners or anyone had contacted me to tell me what the reports were saying or to get my side.
On March 11th, Ann responded back to me with this:
Dammitann Warren March 11 at 3:47am Report
Thank you for such a thoughtful response. As you are aware I was not there, although, Robin may have been not il-treated personally, she was not happy with the treatment of her bar guests. They are long term regulars of the bar and the diner were all there tonight. Management and employees are both there to make money and our loyal guests are our main concern. We are a bar first and a venue second. The privilege of using our space is at our discretion. The crowd cannot be forced to enjoy anything, it has to be entertained and heckling is going to happen. We have all come to the conclusion that we are just not a good fit. You are more than welcome to call and talk with Gary Haworth if you have any concerns. Again, this is not personal, we just think it may be best if Speakeasy finds a new home. Good luck in all your endeavors and I hope you realize I did not want this outcome but it was out my hands once management was involved. Peace.
That morning, I put out on Facebook and Twitter that we were done at The Office. I got a phone call from Cynthia, and she had no idea about anything that had transpired (she was off that week). It just became apparent to me that she was the only advocate for Speakeasy there. Six days after I made the announcement, I got a call from one of the owners officially saying that we were done.
Since then, I’ve heard different things from different people about who has said this, that, or the other, which I find very unfortunate. I heard that some of staff have said some really negative things about me personally, which happens, but also lets me know that perhaps me not having my brand over there was the best move.
What’s Happened Since:I was in talks with several potential good homes for Speakeasy. Scheduling and projects just kind of gummed-up the works. Making a move to another place would not, and still isn’t a problem. However, I wanted to make the RIGHT move, so that’s one of the things that has taken a bit of time.
Some of the negotiations fell through, which happens in any kind of business. All the while though, we’ve been doing performances (Strange Bedfellows is under The Speakeasy name) and working on expanding.
Also, I ended up suffering an ingury (I have some ligament damage in my left knee), so I did something that I haven’t done in over two years – I took a little break to get myself together. In that span of time, I’ve had the bility to write more, regroup, relax, and just think about where I’d like to go with Speakeasy and with my other affairs (MANIFEST, etc.).
What the Future Holds:I’ve found a location and had a brief conversation with one of the owners. I left a business card, but I’d like to try to follow-up within the next week and see if we can iron something definite out. Brother Travis Kilgore is a fan of the spot as well and it yields a lot of checks in the plus column for the open-mic.
Also, you can expect a Speakeasy audio project featuring some familiar faces and voices. That should be available in the not-too-distant future, so stay tuned on that.
Honestly, I feel really renewed. I’m really excited about bringing my open-mic back. I’m very pleased with how we’ve been able to grow the MANIFEST brand (and we’ve only just begun ,boys and girls). Also, I’m immensely pleased with some of the performances and opportunities I’ve had since March 9th.
With that said, I think that you lovely folks will also be pleased with what my team and I have instore for you over the next few months. Actually, I GUARANTEE it! Mua ha ha.