Nightlife entertainment venues tend to be dark. Some darker than others, but almost all fall into the “Gee, I can’t see very well in here” category. And, as such, it is necessary for anyone working in these darkened environments to have some means of navigation and illumination. While well-lit walkways and stairwells are great, there is one piece of equipment that will never fail:


Yep, the old tried and true flashlight. It has many uses and just as many misuses. So sit back, relax, and let’s discuss proper flashlight use and etiquette.

LIGHTING YOUR WAY – The flashlight’s main purpose is to do just that: help you see where you are going. Unfortunately, many Security Staffers don’t understand that lighting your way does not mean shining your flashlight directly the face of the people standing in front of you. Should you need to get through a crowd of people, a nice loud “Excuse me”, coupled with your flashlight held above your head, slightly in front of you, and pointed STRAIGHT DOWN will suffice.

LIGHTING SOMEONE ELSE’S WAY – Should you need to point someone towards an exit or need to light that stairwell so they don’t fall, shine your flashlight at about knee to waist height. Anything else tends to lead to involuntarily flashing people in the face. And don’t forget to point (with your entire hand, not a finger) the Patron in the proper direction.

DIRECTING TRAFFIC/HIGHLIGHTING OBSTACLES – Should you need to keep people moving, constantly sweep the flashing light in the direction of traffic flow. In this case, a flashlight held at about shoulder height, pointed straight down is the way to go. If you need to point out obstructions or hazards, stand directly next to the obstacle/hazard and shine your light on it. Don’t forget to mention the hazard to people as they approach.

BLAST ‘EM – Situations do occur in which shining a flashlight directly at or onto someone is necessary.

  • Fights/Altercations – Shine your light directly onto whatever the situation may be. If the rest of the Staff have been keeping their flashlights low as in the examples above, the sudden beam of light shining onto an altercation will immediately draw attention to it. Keep your light on the situation as it occurs.
  • Distraction/Blinding – A good blast of light in the face of an unruly or aggressive Patron can buy you a few seconds of time. Some flashlights have strobe effects which are equally disrupting.
  • Pointing out a troublemaker – Sometimes an unruly Patron may get away from your grasp. In this case, instead of running up behind them and throwing a tackle, shine your light on the Patron while trailing them and calling for back up.
In closing, always remember to TURN OFF your flashlight when you aren’t using it. Nothing is as annoying as a flashlight in a Staffer’s back pocket illuminating the world behind them as they walk around, oblivious. Besides, it wastes batteries.
Until next time…

A Nightclub Doorman’s Gear….

The job of the Doorman is not easy to begin with, but if you are working without the necessary tools it can be downright horrible. While there is basic gear that every Security Staffer needs, the Front Door is an area with particular needs. Between the Doorman, Door Outs, and possibly a VIP Host, there are a range of responsibilities and equipment to help and make your job easier. So here is another entry in our series on Nightclub Equipment.


Most every club should have a stanchion or “rope” system in place. On the most basic level it is a way to keep people in line and designate where they need to go in order to enter the club. In larger establishments, ropes can be used to separate general admission from VIP and direct flow of traffic as people enter or exit. Whatever the purpose, purchasing ropes will improve your life. Where to buy them? How about a Google search?

CLICKERS (Tally Counters)

One of the more overlooked pieces of gear at the Front Door, “clickers” can save you from the heartache and frustration of being over-capacity and verify your in-door totals for the night. When used in conjunction with a Nightly Report, they can also track your business over the course of an evening.


This one is just too obvious. VIP lists, Guest lists, Promotional lists, holders for Nightly Reports; whatever the use, a clipboard or two is always necessary at the front door.


Kind of hard to write without these, yes?


Always have spare flashlights and batteries….please. Without fail, you will have a flashlight crap out on you during a shift. And it is pretty darn hard to find a replacement at 12:30 a.m. Trust me, I’ve tried.


Entrance Mats and Runners are another piece of equipment that I often notice are missing from establishments. Again, on the most basic level, they make your place of business more attractive. But more importantly, they cover you from slip and fall liability…literally! Place these at your Entrance and your Entry Lines. A solid investment, always.


Believe it or not, you haven’t come close to seeing every ID every created from every part of the world. No, really, you haven’t. And sometimes you might even be wrong about an ID you’ve seen a million times. Yes, really, you have. Cover your back, or at least show that you’ve put  in the effort buy purchasing some ID guides.

These come in very handy if you have foreign exchange students in a college town or a influx of out-of-towners during the Summer/Holiday season.


I’ve discussed the importance of communication on numerous occasions. Everyone should be on a radio and using them with some regularity. If you don’t have radios in your establishment by now, you are just a disaster waiting to happen


ID Scanners are used by many Nightclub Doormen and they find them to be incredible helpful. They can (often) register fake IDs, head count, and even to note individuals who have been 86’ed by your place of business. On the downside, they can slow down your line, aren’t always accurate, and can lead to laziness on the part of your ID checker. Ultimately, I am about 50/50 on the use of scanners, but the choice is yours.

My preference is to use a device such as The ID Sleuth (which I reviewed). It is portable, easy to use, and costs a fraction of an ID Scanner.

Pretty basic, easy-to-fill list, isn’t it? Most establishment should be able to acquire most of the items in this post. Do it, it will make your Doorman’s job much, much easier.

Until next time…

Product Review: The ID Sleuth

As promised, I will be posting product reviews here on the Tao on a regular basis. These reviews will hopefully guide you to equipment that you or your establishment may find helpful in the reduction of liability and improve your customer service. So without further ado…


For a little over a year now, Shaun Lager (a Nightclub Industry veteran) has given me glimpses of a prototype he has been working on. I was impressed and intrigued by the initial models and asked him to let me know when the final product was ready. Well, it’s ready and it is a winner.


THE ID SLEUTH is the first of its kind: a self-lighting, handheld, ID checking device. The frame is made of a tough polymer, which surrounds a 2x magnifying window with a 4x magnifying bubble.  Two small buttons set into the frame are used to activate one of two sets of lights: 2 LEDs or 4 UVs.

Front View with Magnifier and Power Buttons

Rear View showing LEDs and UV lights

To use the ID SLEUTH, you place an identification card 2-3 inches beneath the magnifying lens and press the button to turn on the LEDs. The LEDs put out a clear, bright light, easily illuminating any nicks, scratches, or alterations that may have been made to the identification.  The magnifier gives you an enhanced view of the ID, and the 4X bubble allows you to zoom-in on any questionable marks or imperfections. Once you’ve checked the identification for imperfections, the magic really starts.

LED lights in action

When you turn on the UV lights, the ID holograms – which adorn everything from Driver’s Licenses to Passports these days – pop into view. This is a huge plus, as most fake ID’s do not have holograms, and the fakes that do are easily trumped by solid UV lighting.

UV Lights and Holograms

Over the course of a weekend, myself and 3 other doormen used the ID SLEUTH. The initial reaction from both Doormen and Patrons was, “What is that!?” The ID SLEUTH worked like a charm. We were able to detect 2 fake IDs immediately and deterred a couple from trying to enter when they saw us using the device. One of the benefits of a visible, hand held device is its deterrence factor. Underage Patrons are far more hesitant to approach the Front Door if they see the Doorman holding a futuristic-looking ID machine.

When a young woman dropped her ID, the LEDs did an excellent job of substituting as a flashlight. It was fun spotting ID holograms from different states and hearing people’s reactions as well. The ID SLEUTH worked fine after being dropped and we noticed no loss of light quality or power over the course of its approximately 12 hours of use . By the end of the weekend, using the ID SLEUTH had become second nature. One of the doormen even asked if he could keep it!

Not much bigger than a Droid!

The ID SLEUTH is lightweight, measures 5 1/8”L x 3 1/2 W x 1”H,  and fits right in the palm of your hand. It also comes with a wrist strap or can be attached to an included suction cup stand for placement on a wall or table. And get this: the ID SLEUTH takes rechargeable RCR123A LI-ION batteries. I’ve also been told that the frame will be customizable so that you can put your establishment’s name on the front.

Those with small hands will find the ID SLEUTH a little bulky, but when compared to a large ID scanner, it is miniature. The only downside is the lack of a belt clip or holster,  but these issues are easily overcome by using the stand.

The ID SLEUTH has everything you need to check an identification in one basic, easy to use, cool-looking package. This device would be beneficial to any individual or establishment needing to quickly and easily verify any form of identification and I highly recommend it.


Simple, sturdy design

Easy to use

Rechargeable batteries

Visual deterrent


Bulky for individuals with small hands

No belt clip or holster

PRICE:            $99

WEBSITE: www.theidsleuth.com