Date Rape Drugs

Just last week, three women in Santa Monica, California prevented a date rape. They were fortunate enough to see the accused would-be rapist slip something into his date’s drink and notified both the woman and the restaurant’s management. Long story short, the man was arrested and is now facing criminal charges. As luck would have it, the restaurant caught the incident on video, which was one of the reasons they were able to act so quickly and notify Law Enforcement.

Unfortunately, Drug-facilitated sexual assault is something that occurs to both women and men. And as in the case above, 75% of all acquaintance rapes involve drugs and/or alcohol. How can you lower the risks of something like this happening in your (or other) establishment(s)? The answer is not so cut and dry.

First off, an understanding of the drugs and their effects is necessary. I have condensed some of the information from Womenshealth.gov here and I suggest that you go to their website for a more in-depth analysis.

The three most common Date Rape drugs are:

  • Rohypnol*  (aka ‘roofies’)
  • GHB
  • Ketamine (Special K)

Their effects are similar and basic:

  • Muscle relaxation or loss of muscle control
  • Difficulty with motor movements
  • Drunk feeling
  • Loss of consciousness (black out)
  • Confusion
  • Feeling out of control
  • Impaired motor function
  • Can’t remember what happened while drugged

Recognize any of these symptoms? You should, as they are similar to what happens when people are intoxicated. And herein lies the problem: how can you tell if someone is drunk or under the influence of a Date Rape drug? You can’t. However, there is one thing that will absolutely mitigate the risk of potential Date Rape situations:

PAYING ATTENTION TO YOUR PATRONS – Because when you pay attention, you notice things!

  • When couples enter your establishment, try to gauge their level of intoxication. Is one more intoxicated than the other? As the evening progresses, has one of the individuals become markedly more intoxicated than the other? Many times, bartenders have a pretty good feel for who is at what level of intoxication and can gauge where people should be after a certain number of drinks. And as a nightlub security staffer you should learn to spot intoxication as well.
  • Are there single men or women sitting at your bar and standing around the dance floor/bar/lounge patio? Are they talking to anyone? Are they approaching groups of men/women or just single individuals? Are they purchasing beverages or approaching someone with beverages already in hand? Do they seem to be aggressively pursuing members of the opposite sex? This may not necessarily be a sign of someone drugging drinks but could be an individual who is making others uncomfortable.
  • As people exit the establishment what is their condition as it compares to when they entered? Obviously, if you have a huge crowd it is hard to gauge everyone’s state of sobriety. But if you watched the couple from earlier and he is carrying her out of the bar while he is dead sober, some flags should go up. Same goes for any individual who is being assisted on their way out.

ASK QUESTIONS AND COMMUNICATE

Bad people do NOT want attention. They do not want to be seen, heard, noticed, talked to, etc. So ask questions. Not everyone is a suspect nor should they be treated as such. But predators want to work on their terms not yours.

I am a big proponent of having conversations with Patrons. Asking people how their evening is going, if they watched the game, where they are headed that night…all simple questions that can often lead to more detailed and informative conversations. A group of women might point out a man who has been “creeping them out” or a single man might casually mention that he’s “…seen the same two women in a few bars that evening, always taking to single men, and they are here now.”

When people are carrying their “friend” out of the bar, ASK QUESTIONS. Are they ok? Who are they? Do you know these people? If you are not satisfied with the answer, ask more questions! A simple conversation can shed A LOT of light on a situation. I have witnessed numerous situations resolve themselves when a “bad guy” was asked just a few questions. If something seems very questionable: CALL THE POLICE. Many police departments have specific “Nightlife” units that are close by to help with issues you may encounter.

You and your team need to share information. If something doesn’t seem right mention it to someone else. They may have noticed the same thing or it might trigger something they saw earlier. Don’t be worried about mentioning something more than once. The more you talk, the more information gets spread around. Spotting something questionable and talking about it makes it a focus for your entire team.

Keeping an eye on your Patrons during arrival and departure is a good way to maintain customer relations, develop a rapport, and monitor them for any problems or questionable activity. Don’t be passive in your approach, be engaged, be personable, and PAY ATTENTION. Next time you might be the one to spot the troublemaker.

*Authorities are finding that Rophynol is slowly being replaced by Xanax and Klonopin in many cases.

Happy New Year!

Goodbye, 2015. And hello, 2016! We hope that your year ended well and that the year to come is a healthy and prosperous one.

While we would usually not look back, I find it fitting that this New Year’s Eve video is currently making the rounds. Many of my formative years working Security were spent in the doorway of a nightclub. Looking back on some of those adventures, I only wish that I’d been able to record the interactions that took place. I have to hand it to this bouncer for taking the initiative and doing that very thing. Not only that, but he does his job well and – as far as I can tell – makes it home safely at the end of the night.

For those of you who wonder what it is like to be a bouncer in a club or who don’t realize the constant stream of characters that they have to deal with on a regular basis, here you go. For those of you who look at nightclub security staff with disdain, this might help to give you an idea of the work that they do EVERY NIGHT, and why the job is far more difficult than it appears. Remember, security staffers are people too; so please treat them with some respect!

Another night on the Door

Wrist Locks and Submissions and Joint Manipulations…Oh my!

As our goal here at the Tao is to inform, we find it necessary to revisit certain subjects with some regularity. One of those subjects is Use of Force. While some might see this as proof that Nightclub Security are fixated on being violent, the opposite is true: our goal is to minimize the Use of Force or to remove it from the Ejection equation altogether. However, the reality of the Nightclubs (and their accompanying consumption of alcohol, hierarchical male behavior patterns, and no shortage of foolish behavior) is that this combination of factors unfortunately leads to incidences of physical contact between Staff and Patrons. To this end, it is necessary regularly address not only Use of Force, but its correct and incorrect applications.*

In 99% of the entertainment venues where we’ve consulted, we’ve heard someone say, “We wrapped the Patron up and escorted him out”. And 99% of the time the escorting was done with some type of lock or manipulation. The question of whether or not the Staff was correct in use of the lock will NOT be addressed here. But the reality of using these tactics will. There is a reason that locks and manipulations exist: they are helpful in subduing individuals who are dangerous, violent, or resisting you in some way. Unfortunately, the proper application of these locks and manipulations is oftentimes overlooked or just plain ignored.

WRIST LOCKS AIN’T EASY

Let’s start by removing the myth of the “easy” submission. The “real world” application of any type of lock, manipulation, or submission is far different than the application of the same in a controlled environment. Most martial artists are introduced to these techniques in class, with a compliant partner. But very few are asked to apply the same techniques against someone who DOES NOT want to be locked up or submitted. Keep in mind that no one wants to be submitted. There is a basic feeling that keeps people from being locked up…PAIN.  In most cases, grabbing an intoxicated Patron – without even attempting to apply a lock – will cause them to resist. Attempt to apply a lock or submission in this scenario…and more often than not it will fail due to resistance. In addition, should you be able to apply your technique, the second that the Patron in question feels PAIN, they will react by trying to get out of the lock or manipulation or submission as quickly as possible.

One of the potential problems which occurs is that the person attempting to apply the lock will OVERCOMPENSATE and use excessive force to set the lock and/or manipulation. Add to that the fact that alcohol dulls pain (in this case on the part of the Patron) and the end result is something getting torn, ripped, or broken. As a matter of fact, one of the most common injuries to martial artists in training are as a result of excessive force being applied in the attempt to submit! And these are individuals who are expecting to be submitted. So, do you avoid “over-excitement” in the application of any submission technique?

TRAINING

The only way to get better at something is to train. Period. Want to get better at submissions? Train. Want to perfect wrist locks? Train. Feel the need to develop a sweet armbar? Train. Training does a few things:

1) It helps you realize that the “real world” is different from dojo world. People resist and often in creative ways. How will you discover how to work the lock with them, against them, or even move on to another possible manipulation? By constant attempts at application. And by constant attempts at application UNDER PRESSURE. Training should be as realistic to the scenario as possible, while remaining safe. (We can discuss quality of training in another post)

2) Training helps you refine your technique. There is a reason that even professional fighters and martial artists have favorite holds: they work what works for them. Some techniques will work on some people better than others. And some techniques will work more comfortably for you than others. Only by working a variety of techniques against a variety of partners can you find what “works”

3) Working submissions regularly more importantly give you an idea of what the human body is capable of handling. Meaning that you will know how 95% of the population will move and react to having a lock applied. Human anatomy is fairly consistent. True, there are those among us with incredible flexibility and high pain tolerance. But most humans’ bodies don’t take a lot of pressure to feel pain or discomfort. With constant training, one can come to understand by “feel” when the body is reaching its discomfort areas. Which, in the long run, can keep you from “over excitement” when it comes time to apply a hold in the real world.

APPLICABILITY

So now you’ve trained and you understand that you can’t just “put someone in a wrist lock”. The next question you should ask yourself (and one you should continually ask yourself while working Security) is, “Do I have to apply the lock/hold/submission when escorting someone from an establishment?” Ultimately, this comes down to where you are in the Use of Force continuum. Have you exhausted all options prior to putting your hands on someone? As far as we are concerned, if you have gotten to the point where getting physical is necessary, you’ve already lost the battle. But the perfect world where everyone is sober, gets along, and follow directions does not exist. Which is why things like locks, holds, and submissions where invented in the first place!

Careful consideration should be given to Use of Force, regardless of the type of force. Unless you are properly trained in the use of locks, holds, and submissions, you should probably err on the side of caution and NOT use them. Even with proper training, a thoughtful examination of the scenario in which you find yourself should be undertaken before going “hands on.” In the long run, it will not only make you a safer employee, but a more knowledgeable and tolerant Security Staffer.

Until next time…

* We will ALWAYS state that use of control tactics opens you and your Staff to a world of possible liability. And in turn, this can lead to criminal and civil lawsuits. We DO NOT condone Use of Force and ALWAYS recommend using every other option available to you and your Staff prior to putting your hands on ANYONE. The Use of Force continuum exists for a reason, mainly to cover you and your Staff’s behinds. We cannot emphasis this enough: IF YOU OR YOUR STAFF USE FORCE IMPROPERLY OR USE IT IN THE WRONG SITUATION YOU WILL BE SUED.*

Minimizing Nightclub Ejections

In my various travels through the world of Security work, I’ve found that there is an inevitable discussion that takes place at some point: How to handle ejections or removals of belligerent patrons/crowd members/clients? And while I find these chats constructive and informational, I usually walk away thinking, “Why are we never discussing how to deal with the problem BEFORE it becomes a problem?” In the real world, situations arise that are not cut and dry, black and white, or easily resolved with a catchphrase or witty retort. In the real world, there are more “Oh sh*t!” moments than there are “Ah-ha!” moments. So how do we reverse that equation in a Nightclub Environment where testosterone, pheromones, alcohol, intoxication, and loud music are thrown into the mix?

For starters, you need to be honest with yourself as a Bouncer, Head of Security, Manager, or Owner: YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO PREVENT EVERY SINGLE POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS SITUATION FROM OCCURRING IN YOUR ESTABLISHMENT. Seriously. You will NOT catch every fight, slip, stumble, argument, or foul mood in your venue. What you can, however, attempt to do is lessen the chances of bad things happening.

1) MANAGE YOUR FRONT DOOR – This does not mean placing your Manager at the Front Door. What is does mean is controlling your traffic flow, making sure that Patrons know which line they need to use to enter the Establishment, minimizing crowds in front of your venue, scrutinizing Patrons who are entering for Dress Code and Intoxication, and making sure that your Front Door Staffers are personable and efficient. If people are content BEFORE entering your venue, they will stay that way 90% of the time.

Do you have:

  • Signage that indicates which Entrance/Line is which
  • A posted Dress Code
  • A sign indicating Cover Charge (if applicable)
  • An designated VIP host
  • A designated Staffer to walk the sidewalk and direct people to the correct line/clear crowds/answer questions/look for signs of intoxication

90% of eliminating trouble inside is dealing with it outside. Again, if people are happy outside, they will probably be happy inside (isn’t that all philosophical and stuff?)

2) MANAGE YOUR POSTS – Make sure that you and your Staff are where they are supposed to be, when they are supposed to be there. That means Staffers showing up on time and knowing their responsibilities once they get to their Posts. Does your Staff rotate through Posts? If so, does the rotation leave any gaps, or do you have someone on a Post until they are “tapped out” of the rotation? Are your Staffers actually working while at their Posts or are they texting/talking to Patrons/napping/not paying attention?

3) UTILIZE YOUR TOOL BOX – The Security Staff are not the only ones working a venue. Busboys, Cocktail Waitresses, Servers, Bartenders, Promoters, DJs. They are all present and all working at some time during the evening. You should be checking in with them as often as you check in with your team. The people on the floor are the ones that are in the mix and can tell you who is acting a fool, which VIP booth is being rude, or which annoying Patron is harassing the Staff.

So what do these three things have to do with minimizing ejections? When done in conjunction, the items listed above do one very simple thing: force you to pay attention to your job. What is your job? Reducing liability. Paying attention to what you are supposed to be doing will help you to catch the great majority of problems WELL BEFORE they occur.

The Dress Code issue that you catch at the Front Door will keep you from having to eject someone from inside the club after they’ve ordered drinks and are ready to have a good time. The Staffer watching the sidewalk can catch the overly-intoxicated group of gentlemen before they wait 30 minutes to get let in and are refused entry, thereby avoiding an ugly scene at the entrance. The Staffer not texting will be able to spot trouble brewing right in front of him/her, jump in to separate the arguing Patrons, and calm down the situation. Asking the Cocktail Waitress how her night is going will reveal that the table full of sorority girls is being harassed by a drunk older man.

Pay attention. Pay attention. PAY ATTENTION. The more you observe, the more information you take in. The more information you take in, the quicker you act. The quicker you act, the faster the resolution. The faster the resolution, the higher the happiness quotient for everyone involved. And who doesn’t want to be happy?

Until next time…

Denying Nightclub Entry

There are two basic realities when doing business in the Club world: Not everyone can get into your establishment and not everyone should be allowed into your establishment. There will always be times when someone is denied entrance to your club, for any number of reasons. The fact is that there are basic rules and regulations that need to be followed in regards to admission.

The problems usually start when your “rules” don’t fit with what is legally acceptable. Arbitrary refusal of service is illegal. However, if the Patrons’ behavior (e.g. flashing gang signs) or dress (as in wearing “gang colors”) detract from the safety, well being, or welfare of the other customers or the establishment itself, refusal of service is legitimate. (Local laws vary and as such you should know what they are and how they apply to you.)

There are situations and circumstances which are universal to establishments that serve alcohol. Here are some hints on how to deal with them.

1) UNDER AGE PATRONS – The legal age for consumption of alcohol in the United States is 21. Period. Unless your establishment is running an “All Ages” or “18+” night, this law never changes. So don’t let underage drinkers in. Ever. Period.

2) OVER INTOXICATION – The hardest thing for any establishment to do is strike the very precarious balance between selling alcohol and keeping their Patrons at a “safe” level of sobriety. Your Door Staff are really the first line of defense when it comes to keeping your place of business at the “safe” level. Allowing an intoxicated individual into your establishment not only increases your liability, but increases the risk of altercations and accidents. In many states, the final establishment an intoxicated individual frequented may be held liable for the actions of that individual once they leave. Car crash? Fight? They can lead back to you and your bartenders.

Sometimes it is as simple as telling an overly-intoxicated individual that they’ve had too much to drink and you cannot allow them in. But more often than not this will elicit a response of , “I am NOT drunk.”, which will lead into a circular conversation that goes nowhere. Many Doormen will tell overly-intoxicated Patrons to “come back in an hour”. It often works, as by the time an hour has passed the Patron will either have forgotten the invitation, found another place to drink, or passed out. But you do run the risk of the Patron returning.

The easiest solution I’ve found is to offer free passes or drink tickets for the next time the intoxicated Patron comes to your establishment.  This will show that you do want their business…just not tonight.  Outright rejection is never easy for anyone to take and denial of entrance  couched with an invitation to return at another time helps to ease the blow.

3) DRESS CODE – While we have covered this subject in detail in a previous post, there are a couple of things I’d like to touch on in regards to Dress Code. First off, besides intoxicated Patrons, individuals who do not pass Dress Code are going to be the majority of the rejections at your Front Door. And, most of these individuals will take offense when told that they will not be let in based on how they are dressed. Often, “not passing dress code” is taken to mean that the individual is sloppy or low-class. In reality, this is far from the truth. Dress Codes are implemented to give clubs a look, draw a specific clientele, or for special events. Dress Code can be ugly Xmas sweaters for a party, button down shirts and dress pants on Friday nights, or vests and riding boots in a motorcycle bar. The key is to let your Patrons know what the appropriate Dress is before they wait in line.

Always post your dress code. On your website, on the front door, at the entrance to any lines. It should list exactly what items of clothing are prohibited. Ultimately, the goal is to educate your Patrons so they know what to expect when they are preparing for a night in your establishment. In the same vein, your Doormen should know to be polite and apologetic when denying entrance for Dress Code. Explaining to Patrons why they cannot enter is always better than an outright rejection. Have your Door Staff prepared to answer all questions regarding Dress Code with an explanation.

“Why dress shirts and pants?” – We run a promotion every Saturday we call ‘Business Casual’. It’s like a costume party, but with stylish clothes. But we relax the Dress Code on Fridays if you’d like to come back. (If your dress code is always business casual, you can state that the look for the club is “upscale”)

“Why no open-toed shoes?” – We don’t want to risk anyone cutting their feet should their be broken glass on the floor. We want you to be safe.

“Why no athletic jerseys?” – Unfortunately, we’ve had some problems with rival teams’ fans starting altercations. On Sundays we allow jerseys during games.

Again, educating the customer will let them know what is or is not allowed. With enough time and “education” most people will know what the Dress Code is for your establishment.

4)  UNRULY CUSTOMERS – The most difficult and often most dangerous Patrons to deal with are those who are acting unruly before they even enter. Being rude to others in line, pushing or shoving their friends (or other Patrons), skipping in line, or just plain being abrasive, there is a good chance that the behavior of these Patrons will deteriorate once they enter and start drinking (or drink more than they already have). It is EXTREMELY important that when dealing with these individuals your Door Staff be patient and always have back-up.

While there is no easy way to turn these Patrons away, one approach that works well is for the Door Staff to “deflect” the blame. The Doorman can state that his boss “…believes that your group is too intoxicated to be let in.” Again, when preceded with an apology, “I’m sorry but…”, it is easy for the Staffer to play the “I’m just following orders” card. This technique works even better if the group sees an individual (it can even be another Staffer) speaking to the Doorman just prior to their arriving at the Front Door. The “manager” can then step inside, out of the group’s eyesight and “unavailable” to talk.

Is this approach sneaky? Yes. But if applied by a patient and apologetic Door Staffer, it can work wonders.

Remember, the key to Denial of Entry is to educate the Patron. Not condescend, not insult, not anger, but EDUCATE. Let them know WHY they can’t come in and how much you want for them to return another time. Heck, you’ll even buy them a drink!

Until next time…

Bouncer Fails

Every month I like to do a little Googling of the word “Bouncer” and see what comes up. The results are usually some type of fight video or altercation between a Bouncer and a Patron. And in about 50% of the cases, the Security Staff are too hands on. If you read my last post, I made a big deal out of “being nice”. When you watch a lot of these videos, you can see that the Staffers are either not being nice or they are allowing the customers to get the better of them.

What I mean is that the Patrons keep pushing the Staffer’s buttons until the Staffer “snaps” and get “hands on”. Basically, the individual running the door runs out of patience or they let their emotions get the better of them. Either way, it’s a huge problem. Ultimately, your job in Security is to protect people, not put them in harm’s way or cause the harm yourself.

In the following video, I see an example of a complete loss of composure by the Doorman, accompanied by some very serious lapses in situational awareness by all of the Security Staffers involved. First, let’s look at the video*:

(Be forewarned, the language is NSFW)

Not pretty is it? I see an intoxicated Patron (yes, he’s annoying, but that’s besides the point) being pushed around for no discernible reason. So let’s break it down a bit:

00:00 – 00:34     Just Another Night?

The Patrons are drunk and there is some kind of dispute trying to be resolved. So far, nothing out of the unusual. BUT…

FAIL #1 – The Staffer in the black jacket has his hands in his pockets. Why? The worst thing you can do in any situation involving a possibly dangerous or suspect individual is talk to them with your hands in your pockets. You’re asking to get hit.

00:35 – 00:51     The Trouble Starts 

The Patron approaches an individual who I assume to be the Manager. The Staffers intervene, which is understandable, but their pushing of the Patron is waaaaaaaay over the line. Not only that, but when the Patron returns, they just stand there, not creating any type of safe zone around themselves, even going so far as to let the Patron bend down and pick something up off the ground.

FAIL #2 – The Patron could have very easily used this as a distraction to grab a weapon (in his off hand) OR  jump right up with a head butt or attack on either Staffer. Bad Situational Awareness. Is the Patron verbally abusive? Yes. But hey, everyone has been cursed at. Suck it up.

00:52 – 01:10     Things Fall Apart 

Is it necessary for both Staffers to push back the Patron? I would argue no. At this point, the Staffers have escalated the situation.

FAIL #3 – The Patrons are now heated and they are coming back for more. Why does the Staffer in the Black Coat place his hands behind his back? And why do they let the Patrons approach them again without some type of verbal warning to back off.

01:11 – 01:25     Disasters, Inc.

What a mess. Red Coat Staffer actually removes his hat and tells the Patron, “I’m going to give it to you.” Wow.

FAIL #4 – An implied threat of violence accompanied by the act of preparing an attack (hat removal). We just drifted from stupid behavior into possible assault territory.

01:26 – 01:45     How Can We Possibly Make This Situation Worse?

Red Coat pushes the Patron (again), and actually starts instigate a fight, to the point of having to be held back by his partner. And the Staffer in the Black Coat keeps his hands occupied (with a hat), turns his back on his buddy (to put down the hat), and puts his hands back in his coat.

01:46 – The End     Epic Failure

Red Coat is obviously trying to get into a fight at this point. Multiple pushes on the Patron, multiple failures in situational awareness and body positioning, and basically breaking every rule in the book in terms of procedure when dealing with intoxicated individuals.It gets bad enough that they need to bring back up from inside.

Videos like this serve to demonstrate how a situation can turn bad very quickly, especially when accompanied by severe lapses in judgement. Remember it is up to you as a Security Staffer to dictate the conversation and guide yourself, your fellow employees, and yes – even intoxicated Patrons – into the zone of safe conflict resolution.

  • Calm your Patrons down – Use phrases like, “Slow down.” or “Let’s talk this out.”
  • Remove yourself from the situation – If a Patron is angry at you, leave the scene and have someone else deal with it. It doesn’t make you a coward, it makes you smart and keeps you out of trouble.
  • Keep your head and hands up – Always. No matter how safe you feel, anything is possible.

Don’t be like these Staffers. Be intelligent about your approach, patient in your attitude, and DON’T FAIL.

Until next time…

*(as always, any and all video is the property of the YouTube poster and I make no claims as to its authenticity or the actual actions depicted)

Attitude and Approach

Those people who know me are well aware of the fact that I use sarcasm with some regularity. And, if you pay close attention, you may even find glimpses of said sarcasm well-hidden within many of my posts. O.k., well, perhaps not so well-hidden. However, when I am working, especially in a Nightclub or Bar Environment, that sarcasm (especially when talking to Patrons) disappears. Why? First and foremost it is counterproductive. Second, most people don’t understand sarcasm, especially when directed at them and most definitely not when they are intoxicated.

Intoxicated individuals are much like your 6-7 year old niece or nephew: they understand only basic commands, ask questions over and over, and don’t like to follow rules. This is not because they are bad people (although I have met some 6 year olds who have made me question their motives) but instead because their brains – the patrons, not the 6 year olds – are not working to their full capacity. So what is one to do when dealing with a 6 year old in an adult body? Be nice.

Every Nightclub Security Staffer that I know, as well as anyone who considers themselves a truly patriotic American has seen the epic cinematic masterpiece: ROADHOUSE. It’s well-developed plotline, impeccable acting, carefully groomed mullets, and intensely realistic fight scenes should have placed it on the list of top 100 films of all time. Alas, it was bypassed by such films as Schindler’s List and Citizen Kane. There is one scene in particular that should resonate deeply with every individual working the door, floor, VIP booth, or hallway.

Your attitude and approach will always dictate a Patron’s response to you. EVERY TIME. PERIOD. Charge up to a table with a scowl and grunt and at the very least you will encounter confusion, if not outright hostility.  But a calm demeanor, a smile, and a little empathy will get you everywhere.

You understand, don’t you?

A little empathy goes a looooooooong way. You understand that the guy at the bar who is falling over drunk had a bad day and needed those 10 shots. You get the fact that the sorority girl’s sister slept with her ex-boyfriend and chose to get black-out drunk. You’ve absolutely had to make the decision to tell your wife that your secretary is pregnant with your love-child, but not before a few stiff drinks at the bar. Right? Well, maybe not, but if you can try to see where the intoxicated/angry Patron is coming from it can help you to guide them to your way of thinking.

Phrases like:

  • “I apologize, but…”
  • “I see you point, however…”
  • “I agree with you, unfortunately…”
  • “Why don’t you tell me what’s going on…”
  • “Slow down and let me know how I can help…”
You  are probably not on the side of the person doing the wrong, but if you let them think that you understand where they are coming from, it will help you to get them where you need to take them: out the Front Door. I’ve had numerous conversations with intoxicated individuals while walking them to the exit and had them out on the sidewalk before they even realized what was going on. Ultimately, people just want to be heard and if you give them that chance, they will be happy to head your way.

Say “No” with a smile.

It is possible. Even better, say “No” with a smile and a head shake. Even betterer (yeah, that’s improper English), say, “No, I’m sorry, but…” with a smile. Most people who are being rude or dismissive – or those who are downright hostile – are expecting a negative response. The hostile ones are BEGGING for an angry response. This gives them the ammunition to turn up the volume, increases their anger (misdirected or not), and maybe even helps them consider turning to violent behavior. Don’t play into their hand. A smile and a “No” can be incredibly disarming. If nothing else, it may short circuit their thought process enough for you to assess the situation and tailor your subsequent actions.

Don’t forget!

Walk away from the action…or walk into it.

Angry Patrons (especially when intoxicated) tend to focus their emotions on the person directly in front of them: cocktail waitress, doorman, bartender. If you just ejected someone from an establishment, you are the person to whom they will direct their anger. If you can’t calm them down (and chances are you won’t be able to, after all you did kick them out) just walk away and let the Door Staff handle the problem. The same goes for if you start to get a little hot under the collar. Have someone take over for you. This misdirection removes the target of the Patron’s anger, which helps to distract them, which helps to calm them down, which helps to…you get the picture

One of the reasons I like to have Backup during incidents is that the second or third Staffer at the scene can play “Good Cop” and soothe the Patron’s frayed nerves. If you see a co-worker getting heated, step in and ask the Patron, “Is there anything I can do?” while the other Staffer walks away. This deflection will focus their attention on you, which will help to calm them down. If you can get someone from yelling to talking, that is a win and gives you something to work with.

Granted,there are times when no matter how nice you are, people will just be plain rude. But in my experience, approaching everyone with a smile, a nod, and a greeting (“Hello, Sir, Miss, Ma’am”) works wonders. Try it next time you work. Attitude and Approach will dictate the ease or difficulty of your job.

As The Schwayze says, “Be nice.”

Until next time…

To Fight or Not To Fight?

Actually, the answer to this particular question is simple: you should never fight. I suppose some clarification is needed. If you as a Security Staffer instigate a fight or start a fight yourself, you’ve failed at your job. There is no reason why you should get a Patron so upset that they take a swing at you and vice-versa.

But this does raise an interesting conundrum: if you are never supposed to get into a fight, do you need really need to know HOW to fight?

There are two answers: Yes and No.

Now that you are thoroughly confused, let’s break things down a bit.

NO, YOU DON’T NEED TO KNOW HOW TO FIGHT

We’ll start with the answer that most Security Staffers will scoff at. “That’s ridiculous!”, they’ll say, “If I can’t fight, what’s the point of working Security?” To begin with, if you are interested in working Nightclub Security to get into fights, you’re not a particularly smart individual. Fighting will not only get you and your workplace sued, but could result in serious injury to Patrons, and yes, you. Don’t believe me? Google “Bouncer arrested”  or “Bounder sued” and enjoy one of the millions of links that pops up.

Unfortunately, most Security Staffers have a fairly high opinion of themselves in regards to fighting. Guess what? You are neither Mohammed Ali nor Bruce Lee. You don’t have the strength of Mike Tyson or speed of Georges St. Pierre. And that is just a fact. Regardless of your “fighting skills” (insert eye-roll here), reality and the law of averages are continuously working against you in a fight. The person you are fighting could have friends, you could slip and fall, or surprise, surprise: you decide to pick a fight with a trained fighter.

I’ll take a moment to relay story. Several years ago, a BJJ brown belt entered a local bar. After a few drinks, he got into a war of words with another patron and they “took it outside”. Well, the brown belt took his adversary to the ground and applied a nice rear naked choke…only to be kicked in the head by his adversary’s three friends. He was then beaten unconscious and ended up in the hospital. So much for fighting skills. This story is not meant to disparage BJJ or even infer that the man fighting wasn’t well-trained. But it does illustrate that there are many other factors at work during a confrontation.

What will cover your behind 95% of the time as a Security Staffer will be your observational abilities, critical thinking, and non-violent conflict resolution skills. If you can’t notice an intoxicated Patron, decide if an individual needs to be asked to leave, or break up a fight in the initial stages, you need to bone up on your skills! First and foremost, spend more time with more senior Security Staffers. See how they relate to Patrons, ask them how they handle altercations, and have them critique you when you are on the job.

I highly recommend the book: ‘Verbal Judo: The GentleArt of Persuasion’ to anyone working Security. Dr. Thompson does a great job of breaking down how to remain calm in a tense situation, defusing anger from others, and give small tricks to “derail” angry individuals. A good read and incredibly helpful.

And finally, assess why you work in the field of Nightclub Security. IF you do it for the fights, I wish you luck, because it is going to run out sooner or later.

If you are a good talker, a good observer, and a good conflict resolver, there is a very good chance that you will  never have to raise a fist in anger or in defense. Any Nightclub Security Staffer worth his salt knows that avoiding conflict is the only way to get home in one piece.

YES, EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW HOW TO FIGHT…

On the other side of the coin is the reality of the Nightclub workplace. Patrons get intoxicated, tempers flare, and fights start. Alcohol’s effect on people is totally unpredictable. The two best friends who were doing shots together 30 minutes ago are suddenly punching each other. A girlfriend has gotten angry at her boyfriend and slapped him in the face. Someone has bumped someone else and fists start flying.  It happens and usually YOU are in the middle of it.

Everyone needs to know how to defend themselves. Period. Whether you are a 10 year school girl or an 80 year old man, you should know some basic defensive moves. In an earlier post we discussed the Best Martial Arts for Bouncers, and the conclusion was: choose what works for you. As my martial arts instructor once told me, “The best defense in a fight is a good pair of running shoes and an exit.”

No matter how good you are at talking, sooner or later you will have to insert yourself into an altercation. Whether breaking up a fight or separating two individuals who are about to throw down, you need to know how to physically intervene in these situations. More often than not, when a fight is broken up the combatants continue to swing and will turn on YOU. And it is a this point that your ability to protect yourself will come into play and could save your life.

Security Staffers do need to know how to defend themselves. Notice I said defend and not fight. Fighting involves two participants generally both agreeing to go toe to toe with one hoping for a victory. There is no reason for you as a Security Staffer to willingly enter (or start) a physical altercation. Even in cases where you need to break up a fight, you should be separating and restraining the combatants, not throwing blows. But you do need to protect yourself from the blows that may come your way. Just remember that the second you start swinging your fists, you become the aggressor and that is a problem.

So as you can see, there is no cut and dry answer to the question of whether or not one should know how to fight. In a perfect world, all conflicts and issues would be resolved with a calm demeanor and a little conversation. But the Nightclub environment with its mix of alcohol, adrenaline, intoxication, and testosterone can produce physical altercations. Know how to observe and talk, but be prepared to defend yourself at all times.

Until next time, stay safe.

Eject! Eject! Eject!

Most people in nightclub settings view “ejections” as violent acts: a group of bouncers literally tossing someone into the alley or a Patron being dragged, kicking and screaming, out the front door. In actuality, 95% of all ejections are quite peaceful, with the “ejectee” willingly exiting the establishment under their own power. Whether or not the Patron departs on their  own or with the assistance of the Security Staff is dependent on a variety of factors. And while your establishment wants to avoid “physical” ejections if at all possible, they are sometimes unavoidable.

The first thing everyone should know is that an “Ejection” refers to any situation in which a Patron leaves the club upon a request by Security Staff. For those working in the state of California it is helpful to refer to  Section 602.1A of the CA Penal Code: You—as Security Staff—are considered an agent of a business, and when a person is instructed to leave the premises and refuses, that person is guilty of a misdemeanor.  IF the person refuses to leave, an agent of a business can use reasonable and necessary force to remove them if absolutely necessary.  Remember, “reasonable and necessary” equals the amount of force needed to overcome resistance according to a person’s physical condition, build and perceived threat.

Ejecting Non-Violent Patrons – Most Non-Violent Patron ejections are due to over-intoxication or unsuitable behavior. And, in most of these cases, it is merely a matter of asking the Patron in question to leave. Surprisingly enough, these Patrons will often leave on their own, no questions asked. However, there are occasions in which you must either take away the Patron’s reason for staying or give them a reason to leave. How do you give them a reason to leave?

  1. Most over-intoxicated Patrons will have been cut-off from being served. Remember, that if they have not, you have the power to request a cut-off from the Bartender. As soon as a Patron is considered too intoxicated to be served, it is an indication that they are too intoxicated to remain on the premises (this is for their safety as well as to prevent you as an establishment from being charged with “over-serving”). Cutting off a Patron’s supply of alcohol is usually enough of a deterrent to cause the Patron to leave of their own accord.
  2. Should the Patron not wish to leave on their own, it is up to Security to inform them that they must leave. This can be accomplished by merely asking them to leave or letting them know that they are too intoxicated to remain on the premises. One way to get an intoxicated patron out the door is to ask for their ID, and have them follow you outside. Once outside, they are then informed that they cannot return to the club that evening due to over-intoxication. Yes, it’s tricky, and that’s the whole point. You have avoided conflict within the bar and moved them to a location where you can have a conversation without yelling and “hand off” the Patron to your outside Security.
  3. ALWAYS try and remain as polite as possible to over-intoxicated Patrons. It is often embarrassing or humiliating for them to be asked to leave, so reassurance, patience, and a calm demeanor on your part will help ease them out the door. This is not easy, especially if an individual is argumentative, combative, or so drunk that they can’t form a sentence. Short sentences, body language, and hand gestures can often help to give the intoxicated Patron an idea of what is going on.

 

 

Ejecting Violent Patrons – Some Patrons may react negatively to being asked to leave and this can take the form of physical violence or resistance. If this is the case, try to bring the Patron to the nearest exit. You DO NOT want to move a struggling individual through a crowded bar. There are too many things that can go wrong and you want your ejections to be a quick, painless, and non-attention grabbing as possible.

Avoid restraint holds as much as possible. Individuals under the influence of intoxicants often have high pain thresholds, and wristlock, armbars, and other submissions can lead to broken limbs or other injury. Tight “bear hugs” are often a good way of gaining control of a violent Patron. Another good way to move an individual is to lift them from behind, by their belt or pants. This creates an uncomfortable “wedgie” (think back to Junior High School), brings them to their toes, and allows you to propel them forward. If using this technique, place your other hand on one of their shoulders to prevent them from turning or falling forward, and walk FAST, in the direction of the nearest exit..

  1. If possible, alert the Security Staff member working the nearest exit that you are arriving with an ejection, so that they may clear a path.
  2. Once the Patron is ejected, the Staff members doing the ejecting should immediately re-enter the club. This will keep the Patron from wanting to continue to instigate trouble with the Staff who “kicked him out”.
  3. Should it be necessary to subdue or restrain a Patron until the arrival of Law Enforcement, do your best to clear an area to keep other Patrons clear of any trouble. (Remember “The Buddy System”?)

In almost any case, calm dialogue with customer service in mind will alleviate any need for physicality. Any Patron who aggressively rejects a reasonable request to behave should be asked to leave. They can be told that if they do not leave they will be considered to be trespassing. You will be forced to call the police and once Law Enforcement arrives, it is your nightclub’s policy to have trespassers arrested. It’s amazing how quickly most people will leave when you state this fact.

As always, communication is the key to any successful ejection. A constant flow of communication between Staff and Patron, Patron and Staff, and Staff and Staff.

Notification – ALWAYS notify the Door Outs, VIP Host, and ID Check of any ejections. This will allow them to hold the door (to prevent bottle-necking), clear the entry/exit (in case you are actually carrying someone out), call Law Enforcement (should you be busy with a trouble Patron), and most important: be aware that you are heading in their direction. Once an ejection is complete, it is imperative that those working the Entry know who was ejected and why. Who, so that they can prevent said individual from re-entering that same night. And Why, so that they can answer any questions by either the Patron or Law Enforcement.

Remember, just because someone is a little loud, a little drunk, or a little annoying doesn’t mean they need to be ejected. Treat each incident on a case by case basis, and talk with your Staff at the conclusion of each ejection. That way you can go over what went wrong or preferably…what went RIGHT.

Until next time…

Closing Time….

“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…

MAGIC HOUR

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.

LAST CALL

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.

THE PUSH

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

THE SIDEWALK

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.

CLOSE HOUSE

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…