Daniel J. Enriquez. Former bartender at Hangar 9.
Daniel J. Enriquez. Former bartender at Hangar 9.

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Written by: Matthew McGuire
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On Friday, August 21 the Hangar 9 hosted live music by Hobo Knife and James Leg. I walked into the venue and took a seat at the end of the bar.

Rosario, a law student at SIUC looked over my attire, assumed I was a law student, and introduced himself to me. Guests filled up the bar as Liz worked on as many drinks as possible.

Bartenders, and former bartenders have an unspoken code about interaction at the bar. There is etiquette to everything in life. I try to let the people around me know that getting drinks is like fishing as a bear. Grown bears can swat at fish in a stream, or let them jump in their mouths at the waterfall. Location always helps when ordering a drink at the bar. 

I asked JK when Dan E., aka Cheech was going to come in for the night. I knew asking Liz where Cheech’s location was not ideal at a busy moment.

Cheech walked in at 9:25 p.m. I shake his hand, and say “I’m here to see you tonight.”

He immediately took care of 4-7 guests in under 2 minutes.

Normally, I review live concerts at the Hangar 9. Tonight,  I wanted to highlight one of the best bartenders I’ll ever meet.

Over a hundred of law students continued to fill the venue. It was kind of interesting that they all chose to visit the Hangar on the night that Hobo Knife was playing live.

Tonight marked Cheech’s last day at the Hangar 9 as a bartender. His career with the live music venue started at the original Hangar 9.

The original music venue was torn down after an ice storm wrecked the roof in 2009.

I started going to the Hangar 9 as a 19-year-old just to watch live music. At one time, I look forward to sitting at the bar, and being served by Cheech. There were rough spots in my life when I had little to turn to. Music was always there, as well as Cheech. 

I’m now 31, and seeing him work his last shift was like seeing a live act perform for the last time.

I asked Cheech, “what year did you start working at the Hanagr 9?”

During a slow moment behind the bar he mentioned, “it was a long time ago.”

I responded, “I want a year.”

He laughs and walks off.

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After thinking about it for a second,  he said, “2003 or 2004.”

I responded with, “we will go with 2003.”

I take a drink and admire the beautiful women at the bar. It is now 9:45 and I look over my shoulder to see two old friends. 

Benjamin West was talking with Cullen about music as I point and Ben and yell at him about playing the guitar. JK arranged some of the house music on Saturday. He works at the door and behind the bar.

The music venue also serves as a bar. It combines diehard music lovers with common beer drinkers.

Caylan Hill, the media buyer for Hangar 9, walks behind the bar as drunk people unnecessarily push up against me. I smile and go back to writing my review.

At 10:13 the opening band started playing. Two attractive girls next to get freaked out at the intense rock music. James Leg was a solid due of high-energy drums, as well as a rustic sound on the keyboard. 

The band had a crossover between Tom Waits and the Woodbox Gang.

I asked Cheech, “what are you going to miss the most about the Hangar 9?”

He replied, “the people.”


Illinois News

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