“You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here…”
Many of us have said it, some of us have heard it, and if you work in Nightclub Security, you’ve definitely felt it. There comes a point in the evening when people just need to GET. THE. HELL. OUT. And you just want to GET. THE. HELL. HOME. Sorry, no such luck. As a matter of fact, your job is the most dangerous and probably the busiest during the last 1 1/2 hours of the night. Let’s break it down…
No matter what type of nighttime entertainment establishment you employs you, people get silly, stupid, and dangerous during the hour before last call. “Magic Hour” is when the most fights break out (usually because people are being silly and stupid), the most injuries occur, and the most intoxication sinks in. People have had all night to wind up to this last hour of craziness. This is when you need to be most alert and on top of your game, in spite of the fact that you have been going strong for the past few hours and could really use a break.
1) Observe the crowd – Now is the time to hone in on those folks who have been acting questionable. Slightly tipsy will have by this point become sloshed. Watch your intoxicated Patrons, and if possible, get them out the door and into a cab preferably with some friends BEFORE Last Call and the push for the door. Keep an eye out for groups of men. Are they eyeballing the drunk females? Are they throwing the stink eye at other male Patrons? Now is the time to intervene. Let them know that they are being watched, either by making it blatantly obvious (standing right next to them) or by doing it in a subtle way (nodding and smiling). They will be less inclined to act like fools if they know they are being observed.
2) Staging- Get your Staff ready for the exodus towards the Exit. Position your staffers at posts that will help move traffic flow. Make sure they all have flashlights at the ready. Move your stanchions off the sidewalk and pick up any obstacles that might impede foot traffic as people try to exit.
3) Compartmentalize – If there are parts of the establishment that are empty, close them to Patrons NOW. Place a Staffer at the entrance to these areas and don’t admit anyone else. If the Patio is empty, keep it that way.
4) Give Patrons advance warning – If you are working in a smaller or quiet venue, a Staffer can circulate and let Patrons know that Last Call is approaching. Tell them how much time they have left and when you’ll have to take bottles and glasses.
1) Once Last Call is announced, make sure that any Patrons not within earshot of the announcement are advised. Walk out to the Patio, Deck, and VIP lounge and make another announcement. Let people know that they have X amount of minutes before you will have to take their drinks
2) Outside Staffing – Your Doorman and Door Outs should have the sidewalk cleared and ready for exiting Patrons. It is a good idea to have a trashcan at the ready just inside the Exit Door for people to toss their bottles.
At the decided upon time (usually 15 minutes before the hour) it is time to start moving people to the Exit Door. First of all, there should be a single Exit Door. Patrons should only be able to leave your establishment one way except for cases of emergency. This makes it easier for your Staff to keep an eye on exits and to guide people in one direction….OUT.
1) Narrowing the Chute – Much like cattle, intoxicated Patrons will follow the crowd. You want to make it as difficult as possible for people to back track or divert from their Exit. If you have a multiple floor establishment, start at the Top Floor and close down sequentially (3rd, 2nd, 1st floor). If your club has multiple rooms, close the outer rooms until you only have one room to work with.
2) Push from the Back – Form a line of Staffers and start edging people towards the Exit Door. You can make announcements as you do so: “Night’s over folks, thanks for coming in.” “Alright people, let’s move.” or the good old, “Time to leave, people!” As always, make sure your announcement matches the environment of your club, yeah? If necessary, use your flashlights to guide people towards the Exit.
3) Watch for bottles and glasses – People WILL try to sneak drinks out. Post someone at the Exit Door by the trashcan to intercept them. Watch for hands tucked into jackets, under shirts or behind hand bags. Take bottles and glasses and throw them away or stack them
1) Have AT LEAST 2 Staffers on the Sidewalk to deal with the exodus. If possible to physically “funnel” Patrons to either side of the entrance (through the use of stanchions), great. If not, have the Staffers point in the direction they wish the crowd to move. Gentle encouragement is recommended as well. “Thanks for coming folks, I need you to keep the doorway clear. Move to the side please.” Flashlights work wonders for moving people out of the way. No one likes a flashlight shining in their eyes.
2) Shift Staffers – Once your various rooms in the establishment are cleared, move spare Staff onto the street to help with traffic flow. But don’t move everyone! Make sure you have enough left to keep an eye out for interior stragglers.
1) Stragglers – Double check all of your rooms, stairwells, and bathrooms. NO ONE is allowed in the bar after The Push. No girlfriends, boyfriends, parents, roommates. They can wait outside. Severely intoxicated Patrons should be dealt with by calling them a cab or calling Law Enforcement.
2) Make sure that money is NOT being counted out in the open. It should be done in a room with a lockable door. If there is no access to an office and IF all the doors in your club are locked, then pick a corner, out of sight, to count the cash. YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN A STRAGGLER OR BAD GUY WILL WALK IN THROUGH AN OPEN DOOR. Don’t put your Staff at risk.
DEBRIEF AND OUT
1) Debrief – Have your Head of Security gather your Staff and talk about the night: any problems or issues, equipment malfunctions, ideas or suggestions, upcoming events, staffing problems, etc. You’d be amazed at how many things happen that no one ever hears about during the evening UNLESS YOU ASK.
2) Equipment check – Make sure all equipment has been returned and is prepped for the next shift.
3) Leave the building – IF Security leaves prior to the rest of the Staff, make sure that the doors are closed and locked behind you. Remove your “Security” shirt before you leave or cover it. I suggest that Security leaves as a group or at least in twos. The Buddy System always helps! There have been times when upset Patrons waited for Security after the closing of the bar. Have your car keys in hand and be aware of your surroundings. If you see something or someone suspicious alert the bar and Law Enforcement.
As always, be safe above all else. Until next time…