If you have been to Brighton’s On The Rocks Bar Crawl, you will probably have met him there. Twice a week, on Friday and Saturday night, he takes groups of people from all over Brighton and beyond on a journey through five bars and makes sure they have an awesome night out (and plenty of drinks as well!).
It’s been over a year and a half since he started his own bar crawl company and he definitely doesn’t seem to regret it. We have talked to Luke to find out what it is like when what you do for living is to take people out partying!
Today, you take people on bar crawls. What did you do before that?
“I studied History in Montreal in Canada and when I finished university over there, I came back to the UK and I wanted to get a proper job, what I did. But it was the most boring thing I have ever done in my life. So I started this bar crawl company.”
So, it was you who started the company? How did you get the idea to do that?
“One day, it was my friend’s birthday and we were gonna do this bar crawl and I was just like ‘Ok, cool’. So I went along and I thought this was the best fun ever and the guy who did it said ‘You are quite good at this, why don’t you apply, we are hiring at the moment’. And I said ‘Ok’.
So, I got the job and did that part-time and then after a few months, they asked me to be the manager. But then they paid me £7,50 an hour to do a manager’s job in central London and that was not really good so I decided to go and do my own one and here I am.”
What happened at that first bar crawl that made you want to do bar crawls for living?
“I just completely fell in love with the concept, to be honest, because at a house party, everybody is there for a reason. They all know people in common and they all got a reason to be at that party. So you can walk up to random people and be like ‘Hey, what is your name? Nice to meet you.’
But if you do that in a club, you are immediately either that weirdo who has had a bit too much to drink or you’re that guy who is just being a little bit too forward towards the girls. People don’t feel comfortable with that at all, whereas as soon as you’re on a bar crawl, everyone will be like ‘Oh you’re on a bar crawl too, cool, what’s your name?’.
It just gives you a really nice excuse to talk to everyone and not worry about that and by the end of the night, everyone is good friends so you end up making making friendships quite quickly. Especially when you don’t know anybody in a big city, a bar crawl is one of the first things I would ever do.”
Speaking of moving to another big city. Why did you leave London to start your company in Brighton?
“I had a non-competition clause in my contract in London when I was the manager there. So, I legally wasn’t allowed to start a company there which gave me a choice of places to go and Brighton is very big for its nightlife and a very nice place to live. That’s just how it all came together and here I am.”
What is it that you like most about living in Brighton?
“The mentality. Everyone is just not caring about what everybody else does and that is just great. I mean, you want to be gay, you go do your thing! You want to walk down the street in nothing but a pink string, fantastic! Nobody cares and everyone is just very open. And of course that here is so much going on!”
To come back to the bar crawls. You said people become friends really quickly. Have you met some of your best mates while doing it?
“Yes, I have actually. Over there, that’s Isaac. He’s one of my best friends in Brighton and I have met him on this bar crawl. Now he works with me and he comes over to my flat and chills with me which is really great!”
Given the fact that your job basically involves a lot of partying, would you say that you are a party person in general?
“I don’t know. I think I just like people, but I am not a big drinker.”
When you say that you just really like people, was that the main motivation for you to start with the bar crawls?
“Yeah, absolutely. I mean in university, I spent my entire life just going around trying to meet new people and making new friends. So the idea of getting paid to do that was just fantastic.”
And apart from meeting new people all the time, what do you like most about what you do?
“It’s the fact that I get to give a lot of stuff to my friends. A lot of my friends come down once every two or three weekends from London, also to take part in a crawl because it’s very cheap, especially for London standards, and it doesn’t cost me anything to add them for free.
And of course, it’s really cool that I get to have private drinks at many of the bars and clubs and that the staff there sort of knows me when I go there on my days off.”
So, even though you do the bar crawls twice a week, you still have enough energy and motivation to go out on your days off?
“Well, it used to be a lot worse because I used to work at least five times a week for a year and a half. Back then when I was going out five days a week and had one maybe two days off, it was really quite an effort to drag myself out of bed. But no, I still really enjoy it.”
But doesn’t it sometimes happen to you that you don’t feel like going to work at all?
“Yeah, I mean I had about three or four hours of sleep last night and I am really tired today, but honestly, I love my job so much that I really don’t mind. It’s like ‘Oh god, I have to go out and have that wonderful night out with people who are really cool!’, I mean what more could I possibly want?
I admit, every now and again, I get a bit bored of it and I think that I could go and get a ‘real’ job and then I just think ‘No, definitely not. I am gonna do this forever!”
So, is this really your plan? Doing this forever?
“I may not be the guide forever, but I could probably move into guiding people in their 30s and 40s a little bit later on. We are hoping to extend our crawls to other cities as well and I might just end up having more of a manager role directing the different activities from an office.
So yeah, this is the plan for now, at least until something else comes up. But I haven’t really thought too far down the line.”
You said a bit earlier that you are not a big drinker. How about drinking on the crawls? Have you ever had a blackout night?
“I really try not to drink on the crawl because I have to deal with the bouncers and showing up there totally drunk just isn’t a good look. So, I usually just start to drink maybe at the last place we go to.”
So, you don’t drink. But what about the people that go on the bar crawl with you. Do they usually get like really really drunk?
“Well, yes but it’s quite easy to deal with that because the bouncers look out for anybody who is too drunk and when they bounce them then it’s a very clear sign to the person that they should definitely stop drinking. We usually just go out with them and give them a glass of water.”
If dealing with drunk people is not a problem, is there anything else that you find difficult in your job?
“The promotion, so convincing people to do it in the first place is really hard. Once people are on the crawl, they really enjoy it and they have a great time, but telling them to come can be really difficult, especially because there isn’t really a word for bar crawl in either French or Spanish. You can try to translate it, but it never has the same connotation for people who are not from the UK.”
How do you communicate with people that come from abroad then? How many foreign languages do you speak?
“I speak fluent English, French and Spanish and I can say enough to make people giggle in a couple of other languages. I can basically come up with random combinations of phrases of sentences in quite a few languages and that usually makes people laugh.”
Where did you learn these phrases?
“On the bar crawl. We get so many tourists and people from abroad who come to live in Brighton and they just started to teach me how to say all kinds of random things in their languages.”
Speaking of random things. On your facebook account, it says that you are a ‘hoover groover’. What is that?
“I couldn’t think of anything to put and one of my friends put ‘funky monk’. So, I put hoover groover. I just tried to pick some nice 70s theme and groovy is one of my favorite words.”
So, would you say you are Brighton’s chief hoover groover?
“I would say I am the only hoover groover on the planet, hopefully!”
To find out more about the bar crawls, click here.
Photos are taken from last Friday’s crawl.