Angry young women clears a bar and gets refused service…

May 15, 2007

So, if you’ve read the previous post, you may be wondering where it came from. This is where ….

Last night I went to what was best poetry night I’ve been to in ages. A brand new night, run by the lovely Sureshot and Mr Finn, it was like going back to the roots of boheamian poetry. It was many of the new wave poets on the scene at the moment, gathering together to read poetry to each other – and to anyone else who was around to listen. It was set to happen every Monday.

Called the 5th Quarter (a great name don’t you think?) this wasn’t like your average open mic night. No names were taken and the floor was completely open, leaving people to just get up and speak when they were ready. The atmosphere was so gentle and supportive, that it was easy to feel relaxed and encouraged.

The very talented poets who’d turned out, set about with a poem at a turn. There were no rules but that’s how it panned out. However, after a few of us had done our thing, Mr Finn got up and gently coaxed those who had performed, to freestyle on the mic. The challenge was to use words thrown up by the audiance. Though sometimes a nerve racking experience, again the atmosphere was so supportive it was made easy.

So, lets backtrack a moment….this post isn’t sounding very much like its title is it? Lets include a bit more detail…

I did my tit’s poem. Then I freestyled. The word ‘fucked’ and then ‘fuck’ might have popped out. It’s hard to censor yourself mid flow…especially when you’re having such a fab night of boho loveliness, as to make censoring seem like a ludicrous concept. However….

After my tits poem and after my ‘fuck’ freestyling (though there were MANY other words in this piece!) I went back to the bar to get myself and another poet a drink. The words Stella and Gin had barely escaped my lips when the bar manger started laying into me.

‘We don’t want that sort of thing!…you were TOLD not to!…people don’t want to hear it!…I’ve had complaints!…people have left!…people are EATING!’

Standing in the middle of Leicester’s Cultural Quarter, fresh from the warm acceptance and creativity of the poets, I obviously assumed she was joking. Only…she didn’t appear to be smiling. I waited a moment. Still no smiling. Oh dear.

So, it felt quite personal (probably because it was) and I’m afraid I lost my temper. For one thing, I’d never met the woman in my life, so the concept of having been “told” was hardly fair and the aggressiveness from nowhere was just rude. Customer Service. Whatever happened to Customer Service? or even basic people skills? So, yes, I’m afraid after my initial polite response met with the same bile, I’m afraid I lost my temper.

She was VERY horrible, but I probably shouldn’t have told her that to be perfectly frank I couldn’t give a FUCK what she thought. It was at that point she decided to change her mind about serving me. Shortly after I left….before I did something (like talk to her again) that would get me thrown out. other poets had been free-styling with the words condom and cannabis. As I left, Sureshot was being ranted at.

What really rankled was the bigoted lack of understanding. Poetry does not have to contain expletives. Or talk sex, violence, drugs etc…but it’s worth remembering that such material has a rich history going back to the early 16th century and encompassing everyone from Shakespeare to Larkin. Early spoken word literature was often about really engaging people in taverns and market places. People clustered around poets and playwrights who were spitting lyrics, that really reflected the society people saw around them. Of course, much of Shakespeare’s work WAS censored in it’s day-by the elite classes-and there are countless other examples of the same happening to other writers through history…Lady Chatterly’s Lover was hardly a million years ago and we all know how that turned out.

So, perhaps Miss Bar Manager does understand her poetry. Perhaps she does get how it’s worked before and has simply alligned herself on the opressives side. What’s sad though, is that the space between what she wanted – and what live literature is about – is fairly insummoutable.

Fresh from a previous week of Jazz entertainment, she (it appears) wanted something unobtrusive, less content, more background noise. Something her diners didn’t have to listen to. Kind of like the poetry equivalent to muzak. Nothing challenging. Of course, poetry isn’t like muzak. It’s made to be listened to and concentrated on. It’s not made to be talked over. Seeing as the diners were a long way off down the bar, I was thinking – if they don’t want to come closer and actually listen, far enough, live and let live. Obviously not.

Initially, this was actually a very distressing experience. No one likes to have their work rejected as puerile and thoughtless-especially when alot of work has been put into its crafting. This morning though, I’m feeling a bit better about it all. I can now introduce Get Your Tits Out as the poem that cleared a bar, got me refused service and nearly thrown out for disruptive behaviour. Rock n Roll. It can only help my rep as angry young woman šŸ˜‰

One last thought though. I can only hope that the 5th Quarter somehow lives on. Maybe with a different name-but somehow it must. It’s too wonderful a night to lose. If you live locally and want to come down to it, watch this space…I’ll let you know when I do…

3 Responses to “Angry young women clears a bar and gets refused service…”

  1. James said

    It sounds like you had quite a night Lydia! If I’d of gone to this 5th quarter thingy, I to might have found myself in the same situation as you did, because as you may be aware, my poetry also contains the odd expletive or two. However, as you know I can’t do angry and therefore I doubt I would have stuck up for myself in the way you did for yourself. I’d just have taken it really, really personal and retreated into my shell, never to perform again. What I’m trying to say is that I hope by sticking up for yourself last night and writing this blog, it’s helped you get your feelings off your chest a bit. I’d hate to think of you, still dwelling on these comments and letting them fester the way I would if I were in the same situation. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t though as you’re stronger than that. You’ve got something really good going here, don’t let this one person put a dampener on things.


  2. Oliver said

    Hey Lydia,

    This is awesome! You should be proud that a pin-brained, humour-bypassed, modern jazz-loving muvver of a bar manager should refuse to serve you after your glorious performance. Magnificent! I am so happy I have published the offending poem on the Oliver’s Poetry site.

    The whole episode reminds me of when I thrown out out a wine bar in Chelsea after doing my outrageous comedy act. Apparently, I just wasn’t right for its image. The comedy night there lasted just one night.

    Bar managers are frequently among the most stupid people to cast their shadows upon the face of the earth, but they should understand by now that performers do not exist to flog their over-priced booze. If that happens, it is a coincidence.

    This whole business shows you’re on the right track. Keep on rockin’ girl, Oliver

  3. Hey James, no, not to worry, more than over now. Was just a bit odd. I was just at The Quarter again tonight actually. BrightSparks had been nominated for a Comedy Fest award and it was the chosen venue for the awards bash-so, unavoidable. Saw the silly women. Luckily booze was free, so no need to purchase any overpriced beer. Hope you’re good.

    Thanks Oliver-not least for bothering to read my whole tirade of rant all the way to the end! Yes, all in all I think rock and roll…though if a little bit of mild swearing counts as rock and roll nowadays we must live in very tame times…I’ve since found out that it wasn’t simply me being objected to, but also the general freestyling being done by other poets. Guess she just didn’t think through what she’d be getting if she ‘booked’ a load of poets to come down and do poetry! Take Care.

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