Bouncer Fails…

Not every night that you work the Door is going to be slow and lazy. More often than not you will encounter a situation that tests your limits or forces you to act quickly and decisively. And once in a rare while you will be placed in a possibly life-threatening situation. There are a myriad of scenarios that can occur during the course of your shift, but your approach to each should be consistent, patient, and attentive.

This video clip is an excellent example of how lax attention can have a possibly deadly outcome. We could break the video down second by second, but instead we can look at the major mistakes made.

Mistake #1 – Lack of Distance

From the very beginning, the Doorman is too close to the Patron. Any Patron, regardless of state of sobriety or perceived intent, should be kept at least arm’s distance from you at all times. Many Security Staffers close the gap through what might be considered “posturing”. They think that getting up close might intimidate the person they are dealing with. In reality, this may be seen as an aggressive move and can lead to unnecessary escalation. It also puts you as a Staffer in a serious danger zone.

Creating space between you and a Patron allows you room to move, a clearer view of the Patron’s entire body, and an opening to defend yourself. It also lets the Patron know that you are not crowding them or getting into their personal space, which can help to relax them if they are getting worked up.

Mistake #2 – Busy hands

You should never have your hands occupied with anything other than what you need to do your job while talking to a Patron. Cellphones, cigarettes, cups… not acceptable. These are distractions and occupy important space – namely your hand(s). Should you have to defend yourself, grab something, or move someone, it will be very difficult with something in your hands.

The Doorman not only smokes a cigarette during this entire encounter, but he even places one hand in his pocket while smoking! How does he expect to defend himself?

Mistake #3 – Forgetting the Buddy System

While not always possible, it is HIGHLY recommended that you be in the presence of another Staffer during any encounter you have with a Patron. This not only ensures that you have physical backup should things turn ugly, but also provides you with a witness should anything go awry. There is a reason that every field of Security prefers to work with multiple Staffers: SAFETY IN NUMBERS. You should always have +1 person in relation to the situation you are dealing with. 1 Patron = 2 Staffers, 2 Patrons = 3 Staffers, etc.

When the Doorman’s “backup” finally does arrive, he spends his time dealing with another customer and not trying to figure out what is going on in the situation to his immediate left. As a matter of fact, the distraction that he causes in dealing with the 2nd Patron allows the 1st Patron to pull his knife and stab both himself and the Doorman.

Mistake #4 – Lack of Situational Awareness

You need to be aware of your surroundings, who is in them, and what they are doing AT ALL TIMES. That does not mean that you have to engage everyone and everything. But it does mean that you need to be paying attention. ALWAYS. This Doorman not only fails to keep correct distance and has his hands busy, but he TURNS AWAY from the individual he is addressing. In addition, although the main “threat” the Doorman is dealing with is directly in front of him, he turns to deal with other Patrons twice. Never turn away from an individual. Never. Especially one who is intoxicated and attempting to gain access to your establishment.

The fact that the Doorman does not want this particular Patron in the club means that he should focus his attention on the Patron. Period. While minor distractions can and will occur, the Patron in front of you is your point of focus. Ask yourself, “Why won’t he back up when asked?” “Why does this Patron have a hand in his pocket?” Simple questions that should be running through your head at all times.

Keep in mind that being Situationally Aware is NOT the same as being paranoid. If you are paying fearful attention to something that does not exist, you are being paranoid. Acknowledging what is going on around you without attaching some type of negative connotation to it is being aware.

Stay aware and stay safe.

Until next time…

How To Become A Professional Bouncer

A little ways back, we dropped some knowledge about Looking for Work in the field of Nightclub Security. Well, let’s say you pounded the pavement, got yourself a shiny new job, and are slowly making your way up the ranks. Now what? Is there a way to reach greater heights? What are the greater heights? How does one actually become a “Professional Bouncer”?

Before we dig into the nitty gritty, a quick talk about the word “Bouncer”. Depending on where you go, who you talk to, and what you read (cough, cough – meaning this blog), you have probably heard any number of names for Nightclub Security Staffers: Bouncers, Coolers, Muscle, Guest Services, Event Staff. While I prefer the use of “Nightclub Security Staffers”; everyone, everywhere, knows exactly what is meant by the word “Bouncer”. And that is fine with me, as long as people understand that a “Bouncer” is not always just a body in a suit. Our goal here (and I believe it should be the goal of anyone who takes the profession seriously) is to change the general perception of what it means to be a “Bouncer” and slowly get people to realize that a name is just a label: it is the person wearing the label who attaches the negative or positive attributes to it.

“Is there such a thing as a Professional Bouncer?”, you ask.

The answer is yes. Technically, if you are getting paid to do the work, you’re a professional. But I believe that there are “professionals” and there are PROFESSIONALS. PROFESSIONALS carry themselves a little differently, think outside the box, take their jobs seriously, and not only do their jobs but assist others with additional responsibilities at the same time. A true professional is willing to ask Who, What, Where, When, and How. Not just “Why?”

So how does one become a PROFESSIONAL? It’s actually quite simple: do your job as efficiently and professionally as possible.

1) Get Certified/Licensed – In the United States (and many other countries), you need some type of certification to work as a Security Guard. Geting certified not only shows that you take your job seriously, but it gives you the basic training needed to begin to do your job well. If an establishment is willing to hire you without certification you might want to reconsider. Chances are they are cutting corners in a number of places. Not to mention that working without certification is illegal. In addition, should you find yourself involved in an altercation that results in some type of injury – especially without a license or certification – the jury will not look kindly upon you or your actions.

2) Show up on time – Even better, show up for your shift early. It comes back to taking your job seriously. By showing up early, you can find out what is going to happen during your upcoming shift, prep any gear that you haven’t dealt with already, do a walkthrough of the establishment, and check in with your Supervisor or Head of Security. Who would you prefer to work with, the guy who strolls in the door ten minutes late with a cup of coffee in one hand or the guy who is already suited up and ready to roll before the shift even begins? (Hint: it’s the second guy)

3) Dress appropriately and look the part – Amazing how many guys show up with their shirts untucked, dinner stains on their pants, hair tussled, and yawning. The last thing a customer wants to see is a Staffer walking to their post, tucking in their shirt, earpiece dragging behind them. Believe it or not, you are representing yourself and your establishment before you even walk in the door. It doesn’t take that much to be prepared before your shift. And if you aren’t prepared, refer to #2. If you show up early, you can head to the back and be prepped by the time your shift starts.

4) Prep your gear – It is your responsibility to be ready when the shift starts. That means having your flashlight, earpiece, duty belt, lapel pin, and assorted equipment prepped and good to go before stepping on the floor. Buy your own flashlight and batteries and have a back up set. Get your own earpiece. Have multiple shirts, pants, and pairs of shoes. Test your gear before you work and get back ups if necessary.That way, you are never caught without what you need to do the job.

5) Don’t get into fights – It seems ridiculous to have to say it but your job is to prevent fights, not start them. If your perception of this occupation is fights, fights, fights, you are missing the point completely. Your job is to keep the patrons, the establishment, and your co-workers safe. Period. If you are the bouncer who is always “mixing it up”, you’ll eventually find yourself on the losing side of the fight…or lawsuit. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t defend yourself, but if you are starting the problems…find another job.

6) Ask questions – If you don’t know the answer to a question, ask someone else. If you don’t know how to do something, ask. If you want to learn something, ask. By asking questions, you show that you are seeking clarification or are interested in gaining knowledge. Which in turn means that you take what you do seriously.

7) Be patient – No one is perfect. Not your boss, not your co-workers, not the intoxicated patrons, and certainly not you. When things go wrong or when there is yet another problem to deal with, take a deep breath and approach it patiently and calmly. Going into any situation – especially when dealing with an intoxicated individual – with a hot head will get you NOWHERE. Being patient allows you to listen better, be more objective, and hopefully solve any conflicts with a clear head.

8) Keep training – Learn new skills, constantly. Whether it is how to check IDs, learning more about intoxication, studying martial arts, or practicing conflict resolution, any new skills that you acquire will help you become more proficient at your job, which in turn helps you become a PROFESSIONAL.

9) Be a mentor…or look for one – Once you’ve learned some skills, start teaching others. Teaching someone is the best test of whether or not you really understand a concept. You need to have complete understanding of any concept in order to teach. You can’t just ‘kind of get it’ or know it just well enough to get by; you MUST know your subject.

If you are not ready to teach, find someone to guide you. Set your ego aside and admit that you don’t know it all and need some help in learning something new. Mentors allow you to grow and learn while they correct your mistakes.

Finally, take what you do seriously. All the time. Does this mean that you can’t laugh or crack jokes on the job? No. But it does mean that you approach every situation with a clear head, an objective point of view, and a serious attitude. Remember, this job can be dangerous at the most unexpected moments. And unexpected moments tend to occur when you aren’t taking things seriously. Get your head straight and take on the issues you run across in a positive, PROFESSIONAL manner. Behaving like this is bound to get you noticed for all of the right reasons.

Until next time…