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Date of Award

2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Work and Society

Supervisor

Charlotte Yates

Language

English

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to explore the work of bartenders employed in large nightclubs in the City of Toronto, Ontario. Using existing literature, interviews with five bartenders employed in nightclubs and my own personal experiences in such establishments, this paper explores the nightclub environment, what it is like to work there, and the implications of doing so.

As I argue, nightclubs are much different than other establishments where food and beverages are sold. Clubs are much larger, louder, operate on a different schedule, have a unique atmosphere and cater to the needs of a different crowd than restaurants, fast-food outlets and bars. As such, how bartenders make their most important source of income, tips, in this environment differs from others who serve patrons in more traditional food and beverage establishments. As the fifth chapter reveals, bartenders have devised a number of strategies-some of which are legal, others that are not-that often involve an element of self-exploitation to make the most money possible while working at the club. Furthermore, there is a gendered dynamic associated with these strategies that causes many female bartenders to rely on their looks and sexuality to make money, and not the technical skills required to do the job as their male counterparts in this industry do.

As I discuss in the sixth chapter! working at the club has its good and bad points. Nightclub bartending allows many people to make a decent income in an environment that most enjoy working in. However, issues of sexual harassment, emotional burnout, alcoholism and problems associated with the hours of work are prevalent in this occupation. The final chapter summarizes my research findings and presents potential solutions to the issues raised in this paper.

McMaster University Library

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