For a Saturday night, we're starting out slow and easy. We're expecting to Tina-Turner-Proud-Mary it into a full-club frenzy, but right now the goal is to reach the pivot, and beyond. The pivot point is when the number of jazz patrons in the club matches the number of staff and musicians. Here is where my experience and trained understanding of human behavior as a professional doorman come into play.
A group of young customers appear at the door so I say: "Great, get in here quick...we just opened the door and since you're the first ones here you get in free. Grab stools at the bar or a couple of tables on the floor, because the place will fill up quick. And one of you definitely needs to try our Tropical Jazz Zombie cocktail -- it's one of our signature drinks!" With a sense of urgency, making them feel like special insiders, and suggesting that one of them be brave enough to try something different, we've got a mini-crowd of six seated in view of the entrance so when others arrive they don't feel like they're entering a dead club. Now I just need to answer the stare of my bartender when he is asked to make a Tropical Jazz Zombie cocktail.
The jazz club is filling and the band is deep into their version of Dexter Gordon's 1962 zinger "Cheese Cake." The crowd is in sync with the tenor's retro mood as he swings through the tune. An older man with a gray fedora tilts his head back, eyes closed, and smiles broadly. The waitress deftly tucks a fresh whisky old fashioned into the relaxed grip of his hand resting on the table and gently squeezes his fingers tight around the tub glass, completing the transaction without resting him from his music stupor.
The music glides the crowd through the delightful moody night. Well into the second set, an East Indian couple appear at the door. The man is wearing a full-length plain maroon gown and she is dressed in a traditional saree. As striking as their appearance is they easily melt into the crowd -- jazz is the ultimate melting pot and at the jazz club no one is judged.