He stands on the bar in a tie and dark Converse sneakers, swinging bottles of whiskey and dancing with girls. His yellow glasses – without the lenses, of course – and baseball cap tilted up and to the side make him look like Steve Urkel, gone cool.
He is singing at the top of his lungs and handing out shots to whoever wants them. He is the life of the party. It’s his job.
He is McFadden’s Bar and Grill’s minister of hospitality, GW alumnus Dior Toney.
By day, he works with children at an extended day program, helping them with homework and leading activities. By night, he pours whiskey into patrons’ mouths and pulls them up on the bar to dance with him. It is not hard to describe his job.
“I just come to throw the party,” Toney says.
While his gig uses none of the fine arts skills he acquired as an undergraduate, Toney says it showcases his best asset – his personality.
“I love it, I mean it’s pretty much me. I really don’t have to work – I just go in and be myself,” he says.
Toney’s duties involve organizing McFadden’s Lucky Charms – the scantily clad girls in knee socks and short shorts – coordinating with the DJs to run gimmicks, and, maybe most importantly, just getting people to let loose.
“He’s the ring leader for the night,” says Heather Elms, one of Toney’s managers.
No matter the reaction of patrons, Toney keeps working until he is sure everyone is enjoying themselves.
“I just walk up to anybody and just start talking, and if I see that people are kind of iffy, I’ll just say, ‘Hey, let’s get free shots,'” he says. “No one turns down free shots.”
Even before he graduated from GW in 2007, Toney was a McFadden’s regular. After a while, he asked for a job and started barbacking until the general manager offered him the newly created minister of hospitality position in March 2008. He’s been leading the party ever since.
“He’s the best thing this store has had in years,” bartender Tanner Smith says.
A Cleveland native, Toney majored in fine arts with a concentration in interior design, aspiring to be an architect. He was a walk-on member of the GW basketball team and still calls GW basketball star Pops Mensah-Bonsu, now an NBA player, one of his best friends.
Toney had a close relationship with his father, who recently passed away. He says his extroversion is genetic, and cites his father as the source.
“[People] say that he was the coolest dude ever and that he threw parties – that he was the life of the party,” Toney says.
Toney says he spent most of his weekends as a kid with his family, not starting to drink until he got to college. Growing up, he was known to his family as Mr. Wiggles.
“I’ve had energy my whole life,” Toney says. “My mom talks about when I was in the womb she could see me moving from side to side.”
Now, when not working with children or at McFadden’s, Toney says he likes to stay active playing sports like flag football and just goofing around with his multiple groups of friends.
“I live life one day at a time,” Toney says. “I always look for the positive in things.”
Whether dancing on the bar with 30 girls, running around in a penguin suit or spraying white smoke over the crowd, Toney just makes sure everyone is having a good time.
“Dior is crazy, full of life. It’s always a party when he is here,” says junior Faith King, a Lucky Charms promotions girl. “He just has an electric personality so he draws you to him… It changes the entire mood of the party when Dior is here.”
The power of Toney’s electricity may soon extend beyond Foggy Bottom. With a dozen McFadden’s franchises across the country, word is the local sensation may be sent to other locations to help them develop their own minister of hospitality positions.
“I’m sure (Toney) will be a staple with the company for a long time,” Elms says.