Feb 232005
Authors: Andrew Nuth


Working the nightlife in Old Town isn't always like going to work, but it isn't all fun and games either.

"It's a little bit of everything: fights, drunk people, girls," said Kyle McDuffie, a bartender at Tailgate Tommy's, 145 E. Mountain Ave."It's one of the best jobs."

Aaron Collignon, a bartender at Zydeco's, 11 Old Town Sq., said his favorite part of working the Fort Collins nightlife is the friends he has made, not only with fellow bartenders and employees but also with bartenders from other bars and clubs around Fort Collins.

Tina Lamers, a bartender at Tailgate Tommy's, agreed that the best thing about working the bar scene is developing friendships with her coworkers.

Jim Lee, a food vendor in Old Town Square, doesn't always feel like part of the bar scene. He deals with people once they leave the bars, so he has a very different view of late night in Old Town.

In the front lines

Jim Lee sells hot dogs and bratwurst in Old Town Square and has for the past three years. Occasionally a girl will offer to dance with him for a free hot dog, or someone will streak across the plaza. But working in Old Town Square through the night is "pretty dark," he said.

"A lot of it's X-rated," Lee said.

Every Wednesday there are "two or three good fights," Lee said. And all too often someone gets carried out on a stretcher.

In between the serious fights, someone will push a friend into the fountain.

Lee is appalled by many of the things that happen in Old Town Square during the night, but talking with people and watching the crowd keeps him coming back.

Behind the scenes

Aaron Collignon is a bartender at Zydeco's and has been for two years.

"It's like going out without having to spend money," Collignon said.

When things get busy at work he doesn't have time to do anything but make drinks, while the managers watch the crowd. Collignon has counted 28 people dancing on the bar at the same time he is taking orders.

"It's hard to serve around that many legs," he said. "We have great camaraderie behind the bar, its pretty fun. You really get in the zone."

Collignon's favorite memories of working at Zydeco's are of his fellow employees and celebrating their last nights at work.

"We're pretty good about hazing them," he said. After having a bucket of ice water dumped on her, one woman was sprayed with Cranberry juice and corn starch on her last work shift.

For Collignon, goofing around with his fellow employees when the customers are gone is all about "letting the stress fall off."

That's gotta hurt

Bartender Tina Lamers said that between watching people and working the bar, she has see quite a few weird things during her two years at Tailgate Tommy's.

Around 8 one night a really small guy who had been drinking all day decided to wrestle with his friend. Lamers said his friend was much bigger than he was.

The big guy proceeded to fall on the little guy and crush his ankle. The little guy didn't just sit there, like everyone was expecting.

"He got up and tried to walk away, but collapsed," Lamers said. Lamers said he couldn't walk because his ankle was crushed, but he couldn't feel it.

One of Lamers' friends took the guy to the emergency room, and once they got there she had to lock him in the car before helping him in because he kept trying to walk inside on his own.

"He was so drunk the doctors didn't even have to give him any medicine for the pain," Lamers said.

Working the late shift in Old Town Square can be a stressful job. However, along with the stress comes a lot of fun for many of the employees. Bartenders have to do anything from calling the police or ambulance to asking people to put their clothes back on, as Collignon has done a few times. During the late shift anything can happen. A night out on the town for patrons is just another day at work for the late shift in Old Town.

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