Nightclubs and All-Ages Night

The most frightening words any Staffer working in a bar or nightclub can hear – besides “We’re out of beer!” are:


Many Staffers will break out in a cold sweat. Some develop the shakes, and others cry. Why are these words so terrifying? Because any time you bring individuals who are not legally old enough to drink into an environment were alcohol is being served, you are setting yourself up for a liability nightmare. You already know that under-age drinkers will try and enter your establishment on any given night. When you lower your admission age – whether 18+ or all ages – you need to take a variety of precautionary measures.

1) Extra Staffing – You should have an additional 2-4 Staffers on hand for All Ages night. At least one extra to help at the Front Door and some extra bodies to patrol the floor and bathrooms.

2) Bag Searches – All bags and backpacks should be search on 18+ or All Ages night. Since under ager drinkers can’t legally drink, they will often try to sneak in mini-bottles, flasks, or even Ziploc baggies with alcohol. Bag searches are simple as having the Patron open their bag and your Staffer shining a flashlight into it. Just the threat of an bag search will often be enough to make underage Patrons reconsider sneaking drinks in. Another option is to enforce a “No backpacks” rule.

3) Sharpies and Wristbands – Every individual under the age of 21 should have a large “X” drawn on the back of each hand as they  enter the club. The thicker and darker the Sharpie is, the more difficult it will be for the Patron to wash off.

Every Patron over the age of 21 should be given a wristband for drinks. The wristband color should be changed randomly every week to keep Patrons from buying their own and handing them out to their friends. A wristband with your establishment’s name on it works even better.

4) Monitor Bathrooms and Patios – This is something you should be doing anyway, but it is of extreme importance on 18+ nights. Having a Staffer posted outside the bathrooms, doing random bathroom checks can cut down on youths using the bathroom to mix drinks into their sodas or attempting to wash Sharpie marks off their hands. You may want to bring in a Female Staffer to monitor the women’s restrooms.

Patios should also be watched for Patrons attempting to hop fences or gathering in clusters to share drinks with older Patrons.

5) Change your glasses – An easy (though not always cost effective) way to cut down on the under age drinking is to serve non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages in different types of cups. Plastic for soda and everything else in a glass or tumbler. This will also make it easier to spot individuals who should not be drinking alcohol.

6) Monitor for Intoxication – Since they won’t be able to drink in your club, most under-age attendees will drink before arriving. Make sure that your Door Staff are ultra-vigilant when looking for signs of intoxication. All of the tell-tale signs are usually amplified in younger Patrons as they are unaccustomed to the effects of alcohol.

In my personal opinion, All-Ages and 18+ nights are not worth the hassle. But should you make the decision to host one, make sure that your Staff is on its toes and paying attention. It could save your liquor license!

Until next time….

Bar and Nightclub Employee Safety

Working in an environment where alcohol is distributed to large group of people carries with it inherent risks. Between physical altercations, broken glass, bodily fluids (blood, vomit, saliva, etc.), slips, and falls, there is a higher than normal chance that you will be injured on the job if you are not paying close attention to your surroundings.

This week, we’re going to focus on how to keep yourself, your co-workers, your Patrons, and your establishment much, much safer.


First and foremost, do you have First Aid/CPR training? If your answer is no, follow this link immediately and sign up for a course, preferably the most advanced course possible. Why? For one, it could save the life of someone you love. People have heart attacks, choke on food, and injure themselves, EVERYDAY. No harm in taking a few hours out of your life to help save a life. In addition, you are learning a valuable skill that can come in handy in any number of settings, including your work place.

Second, do you have a First Aid kit on your worksite? You should – by law. As a matter of fact, you should have multiple First Aid kits to be extra safe. I have never worked in an entertainment venue where there was not a minor injury from broken glass. Know where your kits are located and keep them stocked with fresh supplies.


How many of you know the location(s) of your Fire Extinguisher(s)? Better yet, how many of you have performed a Fire Drill in your establishment? Call a Staff meeting and let everyone know where the First Aid kits/Fire Extinguishers are and how to use them (the Fire Extinguishers). A mock drill to evacuate your building in case of fire/gas leak/melee is never a bad idea. Know your exits and evacuation routes BEFORE you need to use them. Have a good evacuation plan and know how to communicate with your Staff during and after an evacuation. And no, yelling “FIRE!” is not a good idea.


You can buy cheap Emergency Lights just about anywhere. A small investment on the front end can save you millions – not to mention lives. Exit signs are great, but well-lit Exits are even better! Buy some Emergency Lights for your entire venue. Believe it or not, the power does go out on occasion!


The safety and security of your Patrons is paramount, but your Staff should also feel secure. Implementing an “escort” policy is an excellent idea for any establishment. No server, cocktail waitress, hostess, VIP host should ever leave the premises without an escort to their car. And this is regardless of how they may feel about it. The establishments in which I work DO NOT ALLOW female Staffers to walk to their cars unescorted.

In addition, Security Staff should always exit the venue at the end of the night in groups of two or three to guarantee their safety upon departure. Assaults on Security are not unheard of after-hours. A moment or two to get your colleague to the car will make everyone feel more secure and protect them from possible attacks. Remember the Buddy System?

Take some time to go over safety procedures with your employees. It could save your life.

Until next time…