Dancehall music was pounding through the sound-system with authority, to the delight of the packed room. I was doing my duties, minding the bar and trying to appease the tiny Greek woman who owned the place and kept us on a short leash. Over the din of the crowd and the pulsation of the music came a sort of repetitive chant. It was in the background of my consciousness for about thirty seconds before I came to realise that it might be directed at me. I looked across the bouncing heads on the dance floor to see the DJ at the opposite side of the space with his arms held up in frustration. In one of his hands was the microphone into which he was now yelling over and over, Mr. Bartender, gimme Labatt ice, Mr. Bartender, gimme Labatt ice. To his credit he was keeping time with the beat. I then noticed that I was clearly the last to clue into the request as one by one heads were turning to look at me as if this intrusion into their vibe was somehow my fault.
I suppose the DJ had it in his in his mind that upon hearing his appeal for a beer, that I would stop my work and cross the floor diligently carrying his request. I looked at the owner who sneered and shook her head, apparently she too realised that I had been beckoned. I looked back to the DJ and shrugged to show that I would not be bringing him his beer. With that he put down the microphone and proceeded to march across the dance floor, dodging bobbing patrons as he came. When he reached the bar he asked “Yo! Whappened to me beer man? What I gotta do?” His question in a heavy Jamaican accent was asked in earnest. He really thought I would bring him a free Labatt Ice. Before I could respond, the bossy owner stepped in front of me and began scolding him for wasting our time, reminding him that this was a business trying to make money and we were not here to serve him. With that he paid for a Labatt Ice and slunk off back to the DJ booth. That was my first job in Toronto, I was twenty-two and the venue was the Millenium Lounge, on the Danforth in Greektown.