A very lovely woman passed away on Tuesday. Her name was KT Robeson. If you met her randomly, you would see she was very statuesque. If you knew her better, you would learn she was sassy and fun — and she loved to dance. She loved to go to places like Marvin, the Black Cat, DC9 and the Rock and Roll Hotel. She also happened to have worked at some of those places.
Like us, she loved music. I personally met her acquaintance because, not too long ago, she worked as a bartender and a manager at the Rock and Roll Hotel and especially DC9. I only ever became a casual friend to her but I enjoyed talking to her. I continued to run into her regularly when she came around to see her true friends and family: her fellow nightlife industry compatriots — the bar owners, bar managers, bartenders, bar backs, bouncers, technicians and DJs who make up that tight-knit community responsible for any successful music venue, dance hall or dive bar with a good ol’ jukebox.
We sometimes take these folks for granted if we don’t work in the industry ourselves because we are all very busy. But they serve as our hosts, entertainers, cooks, protectors, janitors and sometimes our nannies. Sometimes they become our acquaintances, fellow jokesters, confidants or just good listeners. Sometimes they truly become friends. They generally are good people that don’t mind doing a job that essentially ensures *we* get to have a good time.
With the sudden and unforeseen passing of their lovely friend KT, who really was among the best of them, the DC folks who work along U Street NW and 18th Street NW (and H Street NE) are going to be in mourning for a time. Those communities in Adams Morgan, Shaw and Atlas have lost a friend, a sister, a loved one. As patrons, we should take a moment to be sensitive to their loss. They are, of course, human beings. Some are family men; some are aspiring musicians or filmmakers or authors; some are working their way through school. Like KT did, they harbor hopes and dreams and aspirations.
We again sometimes don’t take notice because we are busy. We might think that a “rude” bartender, for example, is surely just a jerk who doesn’t like our haircut or tattoo or our tie. We might be frustrated momentarily and wave our money in the air because it seems like someone isn’t paying attention to us. Surely they are too busy chatting with their friends! Well, 99 percent of the time, it’s simply not true. Those guys are doing their damnedest the best they can to fulfill all of their responsibilities. And sometimes they have to run around like crazed chickens to do it. On top of that, they might be doing it while they don’t feel well, while they are stressed out, or while they are sad for the loss of a good friend.
So take a minute sometime to express your gratitude. Sure, you tip a bartender but also take a moment to really say thanks. If it’s a quiet moment at a bar you go to regularly, make some small talk. You probably know your favorite bartenders well enough, but if you don’t, you may be surprised at how many things you like in common. I never went into a bar expecting to become friends with the staff but I have done so. And so I have the privilege of knowing some great people like KT and having some great discussions about music, food, love, life and most things under the sun (except maybe politics but that’s just me).
I’m suggesting we take an extra moment to recognize the hard work and feelings of those people working around us when we are out at a concert or dancing. Then, in our own small way, we might make their day a little better and ours as well.
I like to think that KT knew how much I appreciated her friendship. But I’m left feeling empty and perhaps sad I didn’t tell her often enough how much I appreciated her. Maybe if we make an extra effort to appreciate the contributions of her co-workers and family, we might make their lives without her a little bit easier.
Rest in peace, KT.