a distaste for cous cous, and happy parading.

This weekend: dinner at Ipanema for Blake’s birthday, the Triple for Lauren V’s birthday, the Christmas parade, crafting, visiting Granny at the hospital, cooking, Autocue / Ki:Theory show at Gallery5, Ipanema for Twist and Crawl dance night and seeing rad friends from Norfolk.  After that we tried to go to Cous Cous to meet up with some others and see the magnificent Jason Wood, who was down from NY.  Up to this point I had an amazing night, saw great bands / DJs, and was able to catch up with tons of people.

But here’s where last night got surreal.  So Margo and Maura were in line to get into Cous Cous, and then a couple of guys, and then us.  We were all perplexed because it was busy inside, but not slam-packed like it is some nights…so why were we waiting?  The door guy wasn’t letting one person in for every person who left, which would be standard procedure if the place was at capacity.  He was arbitrarily letting some people walk right up and bypass the line to get in.  But when three or four people would leave, he wouldn’t let anyone new in.  He was incredibly rude to Margo when she asked him what was going on.  His explanation was something that amounted to “Right now, there are too many people in here.  So I have to let out more people before I can let new people in.”  Uh, how did that happen?  And there weren’t “too many people,” because we had all been there tons of times and seen the place about 50% more crowded.  Peering through the glass windows, we could see that there was plenty of space for the eight or so extra folks who were now waiting outside.  Karen ventured the guess that they had craftily decided that “capacity” was way lower on nights when there’s no cover charge.  But there was no cover for any of Kenny’s amazing and packed 240 Minutes nights, so that doesn’t make any sense.  The door guy’s condescension to Karen when she inquired about the door is probably what frayed my patience to its very end.  After waiting for about half an hour, the status was that people continued coming up, seeing the line, asking “there’s a wait?” and then seeing our nods, peeking through the doors, and saying “but it’s not even full in there.”  Exaaaaactly.  It kind of grossed me out, to borrow a favorite phrase of Susan’s.  I’m all about waiting a little while for a good time, when everything is fair and above-board and done in the name of obeying fire codes.  But wasting my valuable Saturday night hangout time so a guy with a raging Napoleon complex can play door commando is humiliating to say the least.  I wanted to wear a sign saying “This bar isn’t cool enough for me to wait in line to get in, I’m just trying to see my friends from New York,” but I forgot my posterboard and Sharpies.  Finally my desire to avoid licking the boots of the door guy overpowered my desire to see Jason, and we split.  At this point it was almost 1am, and I couldn’t give that bearded buffoon the satisfaction of thinking he owned my soul.   This bummed Dan out because he had really wanted to get in and was looking forward to seeing friends who were inside.  Am I crazy or too impatient or complainy just because I want to at least preserve that little dignity?  I think not.  I told Dan that he should stay if he wanted to, but he didn’t stay.

So that’s the explanation for how Cous Cous became yet another of Sticky Rice’s ventures that I’ll avoid like the plague because of its rudeness and crowds, even though the food there is fantastic.  Kenny: time to change venues?  I hated trying to dance around all the 4,000 tables in there anyway.  Let’s discuss.

Edit (12.8.08): Check out the comments for further discussion!

::sigh:: End rant.  Ahhh, always purges the confusion, and never costs a penny.  And of course this way I’ll remember why I haven’t been to Cous Cous in a year.  Also, one of the larger points here is that Richmond needs a bar that’s bigger than a matchbox and smaller than Texas so that it’s the right size for dancing.  Not that I don’t love being all smushed in to tiny spaces with you guys.

But I’m quickly reminded how insignificant things like this are.  This week’s been marked with some sadness because although Granny’s doing better, she had another heart attack while in the hospital.  My sister was told yesterday that our grandfather is also ill, which is disconcerting because he is a superhero and claims to have been alive since before dirt was invented.  And Brandi suffered the loss of her baby niece this week, which is more than I have been able to wrap my mind around.  I’ve thought about her a lot this week, and how much she must be hurting.

On more positive notes:

  • It snowed last night!  Tiny, baby flakes for about three seconds.  But still!
  • I’ve spent about 20 hours this week working on a giant neck-bow for Marshe, and although I cannot imagine why I’m working as fast as molasses in January, it’s turning out quite lovely and I’m having fun with it.
  • Work is amazing, and I’m not bummed at all to be up this early on a Sunday so that I can go there.
  • My neighbors’ crazy rope-lights-in-a-tree Christmas decorations make our block the BEST this time of year.
  • We froze our feet off at the parade, but it was so festive and romantic to get up early and huddle with each other on the street and be around so much cheerfulness and so many high school marching bands.
  • There were Star Wars costumed characters at the parade!!!!!!!!
  • I love NEET Magazine.
  • Richmond has made it so easy to avoid malls this holiday season, with at least three different ways to get handmade stuff and bypass the mass-produced.
  • Non-boring family portraits: good call.  Nobody wants to see you in your soft focus, Olan Mills, weird makeup that you never wear on normal days type of portrait.  Least of all yourself in ten years.
  • Gmail stickers!
  • H&M Home: now we’re all in big, big trouble.
  • Inspired by a pretty hotel: “Love is meant to make us glad.”  Truth.
  • Wesley Willis cross-stitch: THAT is what the world’s been waiting for.
  • Not my style at all, but beautiful nonetheless.
  • The Church of Crystal Light got press in Style Weekly.

17 thoughts on “a distaste for cous cous, and happy parading.

  1. oh that’s superbly disappointing about cous cous. i’m actually rather fond of it because dave and i went to dinner there the night we got engaged. hopefully mr bouncer dude was having a bit of pms? either way, he should never have treated anyone like that or kept you waiting without an expanation. that’s pure rudeness and really very unfair.

  2. Yes, it was pretty weird. I do love the food though! So it’s a bummer. But there are lots of other places to hang out. Thanks for the well-wishes for my grandparents. 🙂

  3. hi. thanks for thinking of me. i love you much.

    sorry to hear about your grandparents. it did make me chuckle to hear about his super-hero status tho.

  4. I’ve never been to Cous Cous.

    I have to say, though, that I kind of hate parades, but it’s only because I was always in them when younger.

  5. Gah!Sadly, I can’t remember doorman’s name, but he can get a little touchy when people inquire about his techniques. This is one reason why I always tell everyone to come out to my nights early. I don’t want any of my good friends to have to wait in lines to get into any bar in Richmond.

    To answer your question…venue change??? This is two fold. Cous Cous is really good to me. I also never want a cover charge attached to any of my nights. Where do we go from here? There is always the possibility of moving to a venue, but there is a 90% chance a cover charge would be enlisted. Unfortunately, cous cous is one of the largest bars that is not consistantly loaded with frat bros.

    I am a proactive individual, so check this…
    I talked to Amanda on Saturday and my DJ skills might be gracing the basement of Ipanema soon. When I DJ at cous cous again, I am going to say something about doorman’s actions. After all, said doorman is there because of me.

    I am sorry you had a crappy experience. Please don’t stop coming out to my nights! If that ever happens again, call me and I will let you in the back door.

  6. Ahhh, personally I’m willing to pay $5 to bypass all that negativity. But yes, making it free has probably helped to get more people to hear about your nights and check them out. Especially for first-timers, they have nothing to lose so it’s easier to get them hooked. So I understand. Don’t be offended if I’m absent from events at Cous Cous though; you’ll know it’s nothing personal. Perhaps I’ll make it a policy to still attend your nights if I’ve first confirmed with someone that this particular door guy isn’t working. Can’t wait to see you at Ipanema!

  7. Chris, the door guy of which you speak is a really awesome guy and is usually pleasant. Not sure exactly what the situation was. Maybe he did get snarky and rubbed you the wrong way. He was told to be stricter than usual on the door. He also has to deal with underage people trying to get in, people trying to sneak alcohol in/out, drunk people, broken glass, etc. The dance nights at Cous have grown to be a favorite destination for a lot of people to come have fun at and most everyone enjoys themselves. Sometimes those nights get a little crazy with the amount of people trying to be in there at one time. We can’t (and won’t) charge to get in Cous. Sorry that this one instance has soured your views.

    ps: I could swear that you and Dan have been in Cous Cous recently unless you have some awesome clones that are running around.

  8. Hey man! Hope you are well. Ah, just following orders, of course. And I’m just recording what I saw and heard. But perhaps we just caught him on an off night. Perhaps he is a totally awesome guy.

    And yes, we have been there recently. Lots, actually! I’m crazy about the crabka. This just happened on Saturday night.

  9. first of all i’m sorry you had to wait.. we only hold the door @ cous when we reach a certain number of people.. and we do this for your comfort and safety as well as trying to obey the fire codes.. saturday night was indeed packed. what you didnt see by peering thru the window was that the alcove was filled with people as well.. however the door was not held for very long.. now our door guy, chris, is one of the best people i know, and he’s great at his job. working the door sucks, and he handles it quite well. he has turned down money before from people trying to get in, so i know that he is completely fair.. he does let people go back in if they have walked out to use their cell phone, which is most likely what you saw when people were bypassing the line..if there is a hold on the door everyone has to wait, no matter who they are or who they know.. chris doesnt make people wait because he enjoys it, he does it when he is told to. i’m really sort of surprised that you would resort to making fun of someone you dont know at all and call them names because you were upset you had to wait.. thats a little rude..
    now, as far as making the sticky rice comparison, we do indeed have the same owners, but thats as far as it goes.. i have personally done all i can to make the place not like sticky.. and i think we’ve done well in providing a great space for the events that we have there.. the only time we have charged at the door was for two fight the big bull nights, and that was only because they wanted an obscene amount of money to perform.. . we have also provided your church with a space, for free, on several different occasions to have your services.. lets not forget that.. i am indeed sorry for your experience the other night. we want everyone to have a good time at cous, and and i think we’ve been successful at that. unfortunately, sometimes there is a wait at the door. next time, if you decide to come back, i suggest coming a little bit earlier.. or if you do have to wait in line, say hello to our door guy, his name is chris and he is an awesome dude…

  10. i dont take the time to explain myself often but i will make an exception. i like cous cous and enjoy working there. parker is right, i am an awesome guy. hes also right about everything else. all those factors and others can be taxing. i try to note whose there together and wait till enough leave so the group can go in together so noones friend is outside by themselves. its also loud. if someone is walking past its because they went out to use their phone or go to their car or something like that. ive turned down cash from people trying to get past the line and make my friends wait as well. if someone asks you the same question repeatedly i think it could annoy anyone.that night the alcove was unusually packed so it may not have appeared as full as it was. working the door at a casual place like cous cous helps you see why door guys are a cranky bunch. hope that clears things up a bit. im not writing this for myself but for the bar. its a great place and i do my best to make everyone feel welcome.

  11. Hi Chris, thanks for commenting. Apology accepted! And you’re right, I hereby retract the “bearded buffoon” comment — even if it’s difficult to resist the alliteration. I think that up to this point anyway, everyone really has had a great time at Cous Cous and you have succeeded. And thanks for helping the church out; that’s rad. I went to a dinner there with church once, but left because there wasn’t enough food and I felt weird eating when there might be visitors who hadn’t gotten any food. But I figured probably whomever was in charge just didn’t do a good job estimating the number of attendees for you guys. Ah well! Thanks again; it’s nice of you to visit.

  12. Hi Chris (door guy Chris — there are so many Chrises). If Parker and you both say you’re an awesome guy, how can I believe anything else? 😉 I will say that it certainly appeared as though some folks were getting in who didn’t look like they had just gone out to use their phones, and I saw groups leave for the night and no one getting let in subsequently. But perhaps there is a mystery to door-working that I don’t know. I agree that it certainly doesn’t look like an easy job. Anyway thanks again for taking the time to comment. I think it says a lot that you love the bar enough to make sure that your side of the story is represented as well.

  13. Well since I was mentioned I feel I need to say something.

    The only reason I brought up the whole “charging at the door thing” when I was in line was because during the Fight The Big Bull event there during Halloweek that place was packed to the roof. You couldn’t move anywhere and they kept letting people in, to me when you are charging $5 at the door that just seems a little obvious.

    I do agree with Tess on some things she said about the inconsistency of the other night, and I know that’s happened to people in the past at other events, such as Kenny’s 240 Minutes. But again those are probably just factors of the situation that we can’t see all of.

    Also that night I was a little drunk and perhaps getting on a high horse I should not try to sit upon. ;D So I am sorry to you, Chris, if I came off like an asshole.

    Lines in Richmond are still weird to us non-going-downtown-to-shitty-bars-people! This ain’t Tobacco Company, we want to get dancing and boozing right away!

    And Cous Cous I still love you, I hope you still love me.

    Tess the snow is awesome! And I wish you had waited, once we got inside it was pretty fun!

  14. Thanks for weighing in, Karen! And I can’t take credit for the snow, although it is awesome. WordPress offers it as an option in December. I love it. I would love it more if it would happen in real life though!

  15. I have read your comments, and I too am not happy you were upset about the evening you spoke of. I don’t work there on Saturday nights but have been there several times to help out when there has been djs. It gets crazy and we’ve discussed, and as a result put into action, being more conservative at the door. Holding the door sooner than later for the risk of people’s good time, avoiding the sardine effect, safety, etc. It’s a hard call for the bar to make and it’s done with nothing in mind except the number of people in the building. Perhaps getting a second door guy at the side door to prevent people from sneaking in (upping the capacity)and making it unfair for the line at the front door. There is one night a year we’ve had a cover. The Fight the big Bull “Thriller” night. That is the one night the band has requested a cover and 100% of the door goes to the band. For all other nights we won’t have a cover. We want people to be able to have fun free of a cover charge. We always want to be fair for anyone that wants to come in and enjoy themselves here. I do hope you’ll continue to come have a good time.

  16. Thanks to all who commented on this post. I was surprised to see how much concern was directed from strangers to my little diary! I guess the final word from my perspective is that if this town had only one bar, I’d be willing to take some brusqueness and difficulty trying to get in. But in a town that has so many great options for places to hang out, I’m always going to choose the easier, friendlier, and less-crowded places. We bar-goers can talk all we like, but in the end the only way to show support to the bars we love is to go to them, and vote with our dollars as my Economics professor would say. 🙂 In the meantime, let’s hope the folks at Cous Cous can take a little bad press in stride and learn from it, as all businesses must do.

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