Dealing with gangs in nightclubs and bars

A cursory Google Search of Gangs in Nightclubs will give you a myriad of search results and as such reveal that this is indeed a serious issue that is dealt with by many bar and nightclub owners. The common thread to many of these stories is that the gangs had already set up camp within the establishment or were regular Patrons when issues arose. I have heard many people offer solutions to this particular problem, but in my experience the best and most effective way to deal with a gang problem in a venue is to prevent it from becoming a problem in the first place.

Dress Code

There is not a gang in existence that does not display its “colors” in one way or another. This is done as a form of identification both within the gang and to its rivals. It is important to note that in some circumstances a style of dress can also be a form of uniform. And that is where Dress Code comes into the equation. It is important to remember that your establishment is private property and as such you can adopt any dress code you wish. As mentioned previously on this blog, your Dress Code will dictate your crowd. An associate of mine once noted that, “People will act to the level of their dress.” This is an incredibly accurate statement. You will very rarely see people acting badly when dressed nicely. Why? Because people don’t want to ruin their nice clothes. Will there be exceptions? Always. But for the most part: nice clothes = nice behavior.

By instituting and enforcing a Dress Code you are removing the most visible (pun intended) option that gangs have in terms of identifying themselves, something that very few gangs will want to do. Remember, that if you are going to institute a Dress Code you MUST enforce it equally across all of your Patrons. If you do not, I can guarantee that you are opening yourself up to angry Patrons in the short term and lawsuits in the long run. “Out of Dress Code” means just that, regardless of whether the Patron is a college kid or the owner of the bar next door. Post the Dress Code at the door and stick to it!!!

Enforcement of Rules

I’m big on enforcing rules in any environment that has the potential for massive liability. Rules keep you, your Staff, and your Patrons safe from themselves, others, and lawsuits. Occasionally, venues will bend the rules for one reason or another and that may or may not be fine. Remember, you have to always consider the worst case scenario if you do decide to bend a rule. When it comes to removing problematic Patrons – in this case, gangs – from a venue, strict enforcement of the rules is the next step in the equation. Let’s say that a gang decides to comply with your Dress Code but when they enter the bar they constantly get into fights or harass the Staff. Enforce your rules. Fights = ejection. Harassment = ejection. Over intoxication = ejection. Not only do these things equal an ejection from the bar, they should also equal permanent expulsion from a venue. Once a few people in a group start to be denied entry to an establishment, the rest of the group will follow.

I worked with an establishment that had a few problem Patrons. These Patrons would generally behave well, but their “friends” would regularly start fights. The establishment started banning the troublemaking “friends”, but the regulars would always bring new friends or cousins or brothers. What did the establishment do? They 86’ed the problem Patrons with a very simple explanation, “Your friends ALWAYS cause trouble and unfortunately we are going to have to deny you entry.” The Patrons were not happy with the decision, but the bar didn’t have any more issues. Remember YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE SERVICE TO ANYONE.*

Law Enforcement

What if you have enforced Dress Code and your Rules, but still have a problem with gang members in your bar? Well, for one, if they are well-behaved and well-dressed, it doesn’t sound like you have a gang problem. But for the sake of argument, let’s say your well-dressed, well-behaved gang members are just plain intimidating your customers. If they have been willing to comply up to this point, have a direct talk with them and let them know what the issues are. Should this go no where, a very direct response is to involve Law Enforcement.

I am not talking about threatening to “call the cops” or “file a report”. Act in more subtle and effective ways. Let the police department know that you believe you have gang members in your bar and you would appreciate some advice on dealing with them. Next, ask law enforcement to do a nightly walkthrough of the bar. IF you are dealing with gang members who are involved in illegal activity, seeing police officers several times a night will definitely make them want to switch locales. Another option is to hire off-duty police officers to work your security. Known gang members will NOT want to be around off-duty police officers. The rules in your particular State regarding hiring of off-duty police should absolutely be consulted before you take this step.

THE LAST RESORT

If you somehow find yourself ignored by law enforcement or they don’t see the issue as major and you have exhausted all of your other avenues…CLOSE THE VENUE. It seems like a drastic step, but if you are already losing money and clientele, a short closure (2-4 weeks) can’t be much worse, right? During that time, reformat the bar: new dress codes, new rules, new seating arrangements, and if necessary: all new Staff. You need to hire people who are on board with your Zero Tolerance towards gangs stance. When you re-open, you must state in no uncertain terms, that the individuals who were frequenting the bar previously ARE NOT WELCOME. Period. End of Conversation.

Dealing with any unwanted Patrons is a matter of cautious patience. You must be very aware of your attitude and technique as the wrong approach can land you in very hot legal water. Take your time, figure out what the problem with your unwanted guests actually is (dress code violations, rule breaking, intimidation, etc.) and take a slow, measured approach.

Until next time…

*More on this in the next post!

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…

Scenario training

In light of the the recent tragedy in Aurora, CO, I think it is important to revisit the idea of Scenario Training. I will simply redirect you all to this link for more information.

Some food for thought:

1) Does your Security Staff keep all Exits clear AT ALL TIMES?
2) Do all of your Security Staffers have working flashlights/radios?
3) Are your Exit Doors locked to prevent illegal entry?
4) Do you have Emergency Lighting in your locations in case of loss of power?
5) Does your Security Staff know the location of your Fire Extinguishers?
6) Have you ever gone over Evacuations in case of a Fire/Earthquake/Gas Leak?
7) Has your Security Staff discussed procedures for dealing with Armed Patrons?

As our world becomes more dangerous and unpredictable, it is imperative for us as citizens to be vigilant and prepared for any eventuality.

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 AID TRAINING AND FIRST AID KITS

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.

FIRE DRILL!

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.

EMERGENCY LIGHTS

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!

STAFF ESCORTS

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…

Just walk away…

Every weekend, at least one person on a Security Staff gets yelled at. Sometimes by management, more than likely by a Patron. And every weekend, at least one Security Staffer will react in the wrong manner. The saying, “If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen” is an apt one for the field of Security, especially if one is working in a Nightclub or Bar. There will be numerous occasions during which you will be mistreated or taken for granted. And guess what? You have to take it.

I can already hear the detractors:

“No one talks to me that way!”

“Did you hear what he/she said?”

“I refuse to be disrespected.”

Well, believe it or not I am on your side. I don’t think anyone should be disrespected, talked down to, or insulted. But there are ways of dealing with individuals who behave badly that DO NOT involved getting physical – which is unfortunately how most Security Staffers react.

For example, if someone were to say something less than flattering about your mother/sister/grandmother/brother there are two things to consider…and no they are not how hard to hit the person and where will they fall after you’ve hit them.

1) Is what the person saying true? If it is true, then the announcement being made is probably common knowledge. And while possibly embarrassing, everyone already knows so it’s no big deal.

2) Is what the person saying a lie? If it is, then what do you care?

Now I am being a bit sarcastic and callous. But honestly, if 3rd grade insults still offend you, you need to seek employment in another field. Keep in mind that the person insulting you is upset (for any number of reasons), probably intoxicated (which in my book often leads to approximately 3rd grade behavior), and definitely not cognizant of the fact that yelling insults at a 250 lb. person who’s job it is to keep the peace is probably not the best of ideas.

So, what is one to do? How do you calm down or eject someone who is hurling insults?

First off, don’t take it personally. Just don’t. Again, if you can’t handle insults, this is not the line of work for you.

Second, try a little empathy. Put yourself in that person’s shoes: their boyfriend/girlfriend just left them, they were just fired, and the bartender refuses to serve the any more alcohol. That is an equation that when added up equals not too good behavior. Sometimes a smile and a nod (even if you don’t agree with their argument) can go a long way to soothing someone. EVEN if they have said something completely out of bounds.

“Yessir, I appreciate that you think my mother is a lady of loose morals, but I’m still going to have to ask you to leave.”

The key with empathy is that you want the person to think you are on their side. They can call you all the names they want as long as you nod and lead them out the Front Door.

Third, if they are truly upset, you have to try and disrupt their train of thought.

“Hey!”

“Sir/Ma’am/Miss!”

“Excuse me!”

Say it loud and get their attention. Then…

“Can you slow down a little? I want to try and help out, but you’re speaking too fast for me.”

Now the Patron thinks you’re listening – whether or not you really are – and may even slow down and try to explain themselves. Again, nod, smile, and (possibly) continue leading them to the door. (Granted, if this is a possibly violent situation a different set of rules apply)

Now, you’ve managed to slow someone down, listened to their complaint, and possibly managed to get them to the exit without them even noticing. You know what you do now?

Walk away.

No, really. Hand them off to the Front Door staff and walk away. You have now managed to remove the object of the Patron’s anger – you – from the equation. And you probably haven’t laid a hand on them. I have seen people literally stand slack-jawed as they realize that the person they wanted so badly to vent their anger at is gone. Conversely, I have seen people become incredibly upset. But guess what? They are now outside of the establishment and bad behavior outside is more likely to be noticed by Law Enforcement and dealt with far more harshly.

There is one caveat: Let the Front Door staff know WHY you removed the person. At least they then have the opportunity to soothe nerves in their own way, in their own time. And finally, don’t try to get the last word in. A simple smile and a, “Have a good night.” will make you feel like a champ as you WALK AWAY.

Until next time…

The Best Martial Arts for Bouncers

Sorry for the delay in posting kids, but the last week was all about recovering from a weekend which consisted of many hours in a doorway conversing with individuals experiencing severely technical difficulties. In other words: dealing with drunks.

But on to the subject at hand…

Martial Arts for Bouncers

I have yet to work a job in Nightclub Security where the question, “So, where do you train?” didn’t rear its ugly head. Most bouncers know how to fight and the good ones (in terms of defending themselves) are either seasoned street fighters, have a background in martial arts or train regulary in some type of martial art. And as the testosterone flows, discussions of which style you train in and where you train inevitably crop up. For the record, I’m not an advocate of any style of martial art. If it gets you out of a sticky situation (which, had you been keeping cool and trying to defuse probably wouldn’t have occurred to begin with), I don’t care if you study Aikido or Break-A-Chair-Over-Your-Head-Fu. When self-defense comes into the equation, whatever works, works.

There are definite questions as to which type of self defense or martial arts training works best in a nightclub environment. And in turn, which type of self defense works best for you and your body type. Let’s take a look at the more prevalent styles and how they can ALL be beneficial (or detrimental) in some way or other. And for you blowhards out there who insist that your style is the best, try to open your minds a bit.

BOXING – Everyone should know how to box. And I mean everyone. Boxing teaches you footwork (which will get you out of the way), defense against head strikes (so you don’t get hit in the melon and fall down), and how to punch properly (which I hope you aren’t doing to Patrons unless it’s in self-defense.) Boxing is also great because you will get hit A LOT before you learn how not to get hit and believe it or not, this is EXTREMELY important.

Most people have never been hit in the head or body. When it happens for the first time, it can be such a shock that it will literally freeze them in their tracks. At which point they continue to get hit and well, lights out. Boxing will teach you how to take a shot, return a shot, or move away from the shot. The downside? A lot of people will try to tackle you when they are desperate or are losing a fight and boxing teaches you nothing about fighting on the ground.

BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU – Most bouncers these days are trained in BJJ, because it has become easily accessible and very popular over the past 10 years. It is also a component of most gyms that train in Mixed Martial Arts, which is where most bouncers train. Not only does BJJ help you think (it is a lot more mentally taxing than many people realize), it helps you defend against people trying to take you to the ground, or if you’re on the ground, gain the upper hand. And it works. It works great…

…until you are on the ground choking someone out and their friends decide to kick you in the head.

I call BJJ the best and worst martial art for Nightclubs. BJJ works wonders for controlling and submitting people, and much like Boxing, I think it ground fighting is a skill everyone should learn. But let’s face the facts: the ground is an INCREDIBLY dangerous place to be in an altercation. Not only are you exposed to whatever is on the ground (broken glass, dirt, whatever), but you are vulnerable to attack by anyone and everyone. By all means learn to defend yourself on the ground, but remember that once you are down there, you want to get up as quickly as possible.

KARATE/KUNG-FU – For years, Karate and Kung-Fu were the Holy Grails of martial arts. And in most places in the world they still are. Let’s face it, you don’t stick around as a martial art for several hundred (or thousands) or years without being effective in some way. And for the Boxers or BJJ practitioners who laugh at Karate or Kung-Fu, you’ve obviously never been kicked by a strong Kenpo practitioner or been hit multiple times by a Wing Chun specialist. Karatekas (yes, that is a word) are damn strong if trained correctly and an experienced Kung-Fu student’s hand are extremely sensitive and extremely fast.

That being said, these martial arts are no longer trained (at least in the United States) with the intensity and brutality that they once were. The sparring in Karate has turned into a sport system: one hit, one point, back to your corners, which trains you to hit once and back away…not good in a street fight. And the overblown mysticism and film portrayal of Kung-Fu has lead many a student to believe that they can take on multiple opponents with fancy moves.

The reality of street fights tends to be an adrenaline filled mess with little or no time to think of form or sweet moves. So while these arts ARE valid, you had better be training hard and realistically for them to work.

MUAY THAI KICKBOXING – The Art of Eight Limbs is DEVASTATING. It has an amazing defense system and will make you mobile. Offensively, a well-place elbow or knee shot is pretty much a fight ender. Muay Thai teaches you how to move and strike with brutal efficiency. If you can find a good Muay Thai gym, join it. But be prepared to be put through the ringer and come out the other side a solid fighter.

Unfortunately, Muay Thai has been extremely diluted in the U.S. and is mostly taught as cardio-kickboxing which will do nothing to help you in a fight. And much like its cousin Boxing, Muay Thai kickboxing does not help you on the ground. It is also really hard to kick someone on slippery, wet, muddy, or icy ground which puts you at a huge disadvantage in many places.

JEET KUNE DO – If you don’t  know, this is Bruce Lee’s fighting system/philosophy on fighting. Basically an all-encompassing approach to fighting that focuses on different ‘tools’ for different situations. And it allows its practitioners the ability to use  what works best for them and modify it to a fighting situation. Great because it teaches you how to fight in different ways and adapt to works best for you. Not great because it allows you to fight in different ways without focusing on one particular way. Many call it’s practitioners “Jacks of all trades, masters of none.”

JKD is great because it will give you a base knowledge of kicking, punching, grappling. The other bonus is its focus on realistic fighting and training scenarios. It is not so great because it you will not out-box a Boxer, out-kick a Kicker, or out-grapple a Grappler. And mostly because you are NOT Bruce Lee

ESKRIMA/KALI – The Filipino art of sticks, knives, and empty hand work. Efficient, brutal, deadly. It’s practitioners are dangerous people who know strange and unusual ways to kill you. Great system to learn how to defend against weapons, which makes it distinctly suitable for a bar environment. The issues? You can’t carry a stick with you everywhere and a knife should really only be used in a life or death situation. Another problem is that most people don’t train with weapons on a regular basis and the reality of a fight (either armed or unarmed) will often lock you up and help you to forget that you even have one.

MIXED MARTIAL ARTS – First off, not a martial arts system, but a training methodology. Much like JKD, a solid way to learn how to defend yourself, move around, and get in good shots. Excellent cardio training and great for your brain. MMA’s biggest drawback is that fighters are trained for the ring, not the street. There are no bells, cornermen, or rules in a street fight. And you don’t want to find this out the hard way, which is what usually happens to MMA fighters in the real world.

MMA will get you into shape, but it won’t prepare you for a dark bar and some drunks.

KRAV MAGA – Deadly and efficient. There is a reason it is taught to soldiers and civilians alike: it works and works well. The pros: it is deadly and efficient. The cons: if someone grabs you by the collar, your first instinct should not be to rip out their throat. Krav Maga people tend to look at the world in black and white, and unfortunately the real world of self defense is one of gray. Amazing system of defense, but you have to train hard to learn how to scale back your violence level.

STREET FIGHTING – This is not a martial arts style. It is a life choice, and a stupid one at that. If you are a good street fighter, chances are you have a record of assault and battery charges or are just an idiot who likes to get into fights. Either way, there is nothing productive or positive about what you are doing. If you’re lucky you will end up the hospital. If you’re unlucky, you’ll end up dead or in prison. If you aren’t a street fighter, don’t aim to become one.

CONCLUSION – Everything works, except the street fighting part. Learn the basics: punch, kick, defend. Each style will teach you how to do all three. It is up to you to find the style that works for you and train it in as realistic a manner as possible. Realistic training means hard sparring and reality-based drills. If you aren’t working up a sweat, you aren’t training hard. But if you are training hard in any style, you will be able to defend yourself. Maybe not in every single one of a million different scenarios, but well enough to get you home in one piece.

When looking for a place to train, ask them what their training and sparring is like, watch a class, and take part in a class. Don’t worry about obtaining a belt. As it’s been said, “Belts are made to hold your pants up.” Your martial arts studio should be open to the public, teach people from any background, and hold seminars that cover a variety of subjects. They should be focusing on you learning how to defend yourself and fight, not on how quickly you are moving up in the belt rankings.  They should also be focusing on how to avoid fights when necessary and what techniques to use in less-than-lethal situations.

Again, the key word is DEFENSE. Not how cool you look in your uniform, not how tough you think you are, and certainly not how loud you can yell “Hiiiiiiiiii-ya!!!!”

Until next time…

Situational Awareness 2.0

Our previous discussion included a definition of Situational Awareness, how to practice it while on the job, and how to keep on your toes (i.e. playing the “What if…” game) during long, boring shifts. While all this is well and good, it is important to note that obsessive concern about one’s environment, safety, and security can be just as dangerous as lax behavior, if not more so.  Why?

Your body’s “fight or flight” response is there to help you in unexpected, emergency situations: a child jumping in front of your car, someone grabbing you from behind, fire breaking out in a movie theater. But a steady stream of stress and adrenalin can lead to burnout, both physical and mental. And it is very difficult to be cognizant of what is going on around you when you are burned out. Anyone working in a high risk, stressful environment can attest to this.

How then does one attain a comfortable level of Situational Awareness? By practicing what is referred to as “relaxed awareness”. You can remain in this mental state indefinitely without the strain of being on constant alert. It will allow you to enjoy your job (and your life) while still remaining aware of your surrounding. As a matter of fact, being in a state of relaxed awareness makes it easier to transition to four-alarm, sirens flashing, heightened awareness. If something unusual occurs you can heighten your awareness while making a determination of threat level. Then you can take action or stand down and relax again.

Some of you might say, “Relaxed awareness is an oxymoron. It is not possible to be both relaxed and aware at the same time!” Wrong. The next time you get in your car and go for a spin, take note of your mental state. Chances are you are calm, cool, and collected. If you aren’t, you probably shouldn’t be behind the wheel. You will notice that you take casual glances at your side and rear view mirrors, pay attention to possible hazards in the road, and watch your speedometer. All of this is done in a state of…relaxed awareness! Over the years, you have learned to seek out and identify possible threats while staying in a relaxed state. Those working in security should attempt to achieve this relaxed state while working the floor, but they can only do so if they know what to look for and practice, practice, practice. Kind of like when you got your learner’s permit to drive.

So what are you looking for while working your bar shift? Let’s do a positional breakdown:

Doorman – You are the first line of defense and as such bear the brunt of the responsibility to keep the troublemakers, drunks, and under-agers out of the bar.

  • How are people walking before they arrive? Stumbling, swaying, unable to stand? You should be watching people before they even arrive to your door!
  • When people show you their ID, do they look you in the eye? Do they act insulted if you ask them for ID? Do they try to hide in the middle of their group of friends and attempt to get by you without handing you an ID?
  • Is the patron rude, snide, or contentious upon arrival?
  • Are they carrying large bags or backpacks?
  • Are people following dress code? Any unusual lumps or bumps in their clothing? Is the clip in their pocket a knife?
  • How crowded is your doorway? Are people blocking the sidewalk or doorway?
  • Are patrons from inside the bar attempting to bring drinks outside or blocking the doorway on their way out?
  • When leaving the bar, are patrons visibly intoxicated? Are sober men (or women) trying to get the intoxicated person they are with out the door? Do they know this person?

Remember you are just as responsible for people leaving the bar, as you are people in the bar! It is important for the doorman to watch the sidewalk, doorway, and immediate entry way to maintain proper traffic flow and get people in and out as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Floorman/Static Posts – Your primary responsibility is to watch the crowd. In a perfect world you are positioned on a box or slightly raised platform to give you a nice view of the floor.

  • How are patrons walking? Swaying, stumbling, falling? Are men pushing, shoving, or jostling their way through the crowd?
  • Are groups of men clustering together? Are they shooting glances at other groups of men or gesturing to them? Are they encroaching on the personal space of groups of women?
  • Are any patrons (men or women) having conversations with very little personal space and a lot of gesticulation or angry body language?
  • Are there any men standing by themselves in corners or darker areas of the bar? Are any single men trailing after single women or cornering women?
  • Is there any roughhousing between men or groups of men on the floor?

You can spot a bad attitude from across a room. Scowling, furrowed brows, walking with elbows jutted out…all telltale signs of a bad attitude.

Roamers – You are the “cop on the beat”. You’re paying attention to the floor and maintaining traffic flow and order.

  • Are your hallways, walkways, and doorways clear, and is traffic flowing?
  • Are exit doors closed?
  • How are people acting in the restroom line? Are there men lurking by the women’s restroom?
  • Are there empty glasses and bottles on tables?
  • Are there any patrons swaying, holding themselves up, or holding their friends up?
  • Is there any roughhousing or early signs of altercations between individuals or groups?

Roamers’ best bet is to walk, walk, walk and watch for signs of bad behavior!

The key to achieving a state of “Relaxed Awareness” is to go over these items over, and over, and over again, until they become second nature. Once they become second nature, it will become easier for you to spot trouble before it occurs and act accordingly.

And what better way to spot trouble than know the Levels of Intoxication? You’ll have to wait til next time for that.