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Do You Have What it Takes to be a Party Promoter?

From Green Room, to PPL, to Babylon, Ottawa is home to a number of nightclubs, waiting for you to explore. But what if you could get paid to party? What if clocking in to work meant listening to the Top 40, dancing with other 20-something-year-olds, and pouring Ciroc on the birthday girl?

Well, this is the reality for one of Ottawa’s many party promoters. 

Cole Hickman is the manager of Room 104, bartender at The Show, and a name frequently passed along to the bouncer to prove they have been placed on guest list. 

“I’m there to make that night a memorable one,” says Hickman. 

Here’s how it works: a promoter will go to a club asking to host an event with the promise of pulling in a large group of people in exchange for using their club as a venue. 

A frequent example are fraternities and sororities hosting a party or charity event at one of Ottawa’s many nightclubs. 

According to Hickman, promoters can make $3-$6 off cover costs and make money off drink sales. Club owners know the more people coming through their doors, the more money they can make.

Other times, club staff and part-owners are sent to invite people to events they market. 

Either way, part of Hickman’s job is to make sure everyone knows his club is the place to be on the weekend. 

“You have to be able to get out of your comfort zone a lot more to be a promoter,” says Hickman. 

This means talking to anyone and everyone, and not being afraid to look foolish on social media. From classic memes to hand-picked stock images, Hickman’s Instagram usually consists of clever captions and his signature smirk. 

Photo from Barshots.

“Stay goofy in your promotion and it’ll work,” assures Hickman. 

Outside of social media, Hickman says party promoters must be able to jump into any conversation, take control of a room, and set the mood for a good time. It is not uncommon for Hickman to walk up to a group of a dozen people to promote himself and his club.  

“If you’re a more tame person who doesn’t look for new conversations, then promoting definitely isn’t for you,” says Hickman.

Hickman also advises not to take the job too seriously. 

“Don’t take it personally when your bar doesn’t do well,” says Hickman. 

Weather, national holidays, and several other factors can make a bar night “flop.”

Hickman is also aware of the social connections the jobs provide him, and recognizes the relationships he’s accumulated while working with Room 104 and The Show have been “mutually beneficial.”

“All of the relationships you form through promoting are because somebody wants something from you, or you want something from someone,” says Hickman. “I can’t say I’ve made any real friends from promoting.”

The hours are not very glamorous either. Hickman begins at 7:00 p.m. and can get home as late (or rather – early) as 3:00 a.m. 

This job – though entertaining – isn’t for everyone, and definitely not for the faint of heart. 

This summer, Hickman says he almost got stabbed trying to break up a fight during a shift. Admittedly, Hickman says Byward Market isn’t necessarily the safest place to be. 

So why do it?

“I’d say my favourite part is being the catalyst for a great night,” Hickman says. 

At the end of the day, managing and bartending a room full of inebriated young adults seeking a good time is how Hickman chooses to spend his weekends. The drawbacks do not deter him from saying yes.

“I just like to see people have fun.”


Journalism & Poli Sci '20. I love books, goats, breakfast foods, and spend too much time refreshing my blog: https://sherlynassam.wixsite.com/sail