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