A bar in the temple?

During the summer camp's preparation days, a bar is opened,  both before lunch and in the evening. People can meet and talk, while having a tasty draught beer, which is very nice, especially after having done a heavy manual labour in the sun. There is also fruit juice, of course! children's image showing they do not like it when the bar is closedThe children who are here because their parents practice,  enjoy very much coming to the bar. They decorated the bar with the following drawing expressing that they do not like the periode of more intense practice (sesshin) because the bar is then  closed.

  Often the responsible for the bar changes at each session, because it is a difficult samu, one always goes to sleep last. This summer 2015, however, Gijs, gladly hold the position for the whole 2015 camp, four sessions, with elegance.  He will share his experience.

I'm afraid your credit has expired

The copybook used to keep the accounts in the bar. At La Gendronniére, people did not pay for their consumptions, only on the last day. There was a copybook, but what was written on it, was a big addition left to be done, giving the amount that should be paid the last day. That last day, the barman had to run after everybody to get the money back home. One day, master Kosen decided to invert this process. People now, before drinking, must first ''open a line" which means put a 10 or 20 euro’s banknote, and get the corresponding  number of  little squares, on the copy book, next to their name, showing their credit (see picture). Making this line while the person can actually sees you doing it helps transparency. Each time a beer is ordered, the barman just crosses off one and a half little square, and everything gets measured in terms of squares or half squares.  Now of course, it happens that the credit is out, the barman can tolerate a temporary negative balance though, which is shown as crosses with no squares around them.  However he must remind the customer about him needing to bring more money, and sometimes one may need to be a bit “strict”.

Gijs has a lot of patience, and very polite way of asking, "I'm afraid your credit has expired", that you simply could not resist. It is a very easy system, but sometimes it might be necessary to explain it to people who come to the temple for the first time. In order to avoid confusion, it’s good to check on who’s account drinks are (for instance if two people show up, and one invites the other).

Relation with other samu.

  •  With the intendent: plans the inventory in advance, and know when is the next shopping trip, in order to reduce the number of trips to the supermarket which is far away. Because space in the bar is limited, one cannot have too much stock at the same time.  the stock must be adapted to  what gets actually consumed. It’s nice to have a good selection of drinks and snacks, but offering too much choice complicates work for the bar staff, and may lead to unsold leftovers.
  • With the samu of doing the dishes: talk in order to avoid tension, and also dirty glasses everywhere.
  • With  the garbage samu:  recycle the waste that can be recycled, and to take care of the broken glasses.
  • Bring the cash back to the treasurer, while keeping sufficient money to give change.

Also, talking to the other members of the bar staff is important: they can provide input or suggestions. If it’s quiet in the bar, it’s not necessary to keep all staff in the bar until closing time. One can even implement a rotation system for bar shifts, allowing people to have an evening off and have fun on the other side of the bar!

Moments of high concentration

On  Stephane's 120 people big session, the barman has sometimes to face a crowd of monks and nuns looking more like barbarians ready to whatever strategic mild violent action to get served first. One must simply serve people one by one, keep concentration and never look to the other waiting people. In a team of three, two can serve, and the third one is processing the cross in the copy book.

A social samu

Working as a barman, Gijs said, you get to meet and talk with a lot of people. In fact, most people, when they come to the bar, are in a good mood anyway. Very quickly, you learn what people’s favourite drinks are. Also, one learns very quickly to speak all the languages spoken in the temple. It’s nice to create a good atmosphere in the bar. Of course, having good music playing is important. Some people also like playing their own music, and once the responsible for the bar has explained the workings of the equipment, they can do so. When people want to make music in another way, such as singing or playing the guitar, that is possible, and that makes for some nice “open mike”-evenings. As a responsible for the bar, you have to be a jack of all trades. You have to know about food and drinks, about music equipment, you have to organize staff and supplies, about good music.

The Music box.


The bar houses some moderately expensive electronic equipment able to mix and produce loud music. Some peoples bring the specific music they are fond of, and play it in the bar. During parties however, it turns out that the children are the best Dj’s to play music, able to create a massive dancing effect, they just play the modern hits. Gijs had the idea to protect the music equipment from the football games sometimes happening in the bar, and from the glass of liquid that could potentially spill. He made a protective wooden box with Richard and Gauthier, perfectly clipping on a table, and hosting the whole equipment. Futhermore, Gijs said, you can also put a glass on the wooden box, without risk. (But, just to be sure, he’d rather you didn’t)

The extras.

Javier, famour for his spanish tapas. If time permits, making things like tapas, cocktails or other “extras”, is a good idea, and greatly appreciated! The picture shows Javier a guy from Sevilla, Javier, who loves to   prepare Spanish tapas. When the weather is colder, one can also make some warm wine with spices.

The bar organizes little parties, at the end of the preparation, with dancing music, and people dressing up for the occasion.There can be performances, artists playing music or doing sketch, one of them is shown in the above film.


Opening hours

The bar is usually open twice or three times a day, once before lunch, once after the general samu in the afternoon, and once in the evening. This depends, however, on the times of the zazens throughout the day. Therefore, it is always a good idea to check with both the tenzo and the shuso if the bar can be opened. For instance, when there is an optional event in the dojo, such as an initiation to giving the kyosaku or how to do the clochette, the bar does not open.

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