18 Stories and Takeaways from a Bouncer and Bartender at the #1 Party School in the Country, WVU
Question: Long time bartender here, had to throw people out once for having a threesome in a ladies toilet cubicle… well attempting to is a more correct description I guess. The bouncers of course went into the two adjoining cubicles to look over the side and laugh their ass off before throwing them out though. I guess my question is, have you ever had to throw some people out but also wanted to congratulate or high five at the same time?
Too many times to count. Had to kick a kid out for getting a BJ in the dirty mop closet before. I was seriously impressed that he talked her into it, especially considering the location. I was nice to him and gave him a pound, and told him to come back tomorrow. Also had a guy I had to toss out for fighting. He helped break up a fight by knocking out 4 guys in a row that were kicking the shit out of a skinny little kid that he didn't even know. It was club policy that anyone involved in a fight has to leave. But I bought him a beer and a shot before thanking him and sending him on his way.
Question: Who's the most interesting/crazy person you met(if anyone really stood out)?
I met a guy one night as the result of a big fight. Huge 6' 3″ 250lb jacked black dude, came sprinting up to me (looked like patrick willis) while I was in the middle of a scuffle. I turned and punched him in the throat as hard as I could as a last ditch effort to save myself, and broke my hand on contact. It was like hitting a refrigerator. He didn't even flinch, and proceeded to demolish the 5 guys I was scrapping with, knocking them out, kicking their knees out, and tossing them aside, before running off into the darkness.
Two night later, I'm outside by myself and I see him lumbering back towards me. I readied my pepper spray in my pocket, not anywhere near confident that it would help, as he walked up. He stuck his hand out, introduced himself, and apologized profusely for fighting in front of my club the other night. We get to talking and it turned out he used to work there years ago, and saw that I could use some help. He was a part time prison guard and an agent with the FBI, and he also did network security consulting for the military. Wildly interesting guy, and his stories were unbelievable. He would come back all the time after that, never drank anything, just walked around the bar or would chat with me. We did a lot of grappling and he taught me some fantastic techniques. From time to time I would see him calmly kicking people out for doing bad shit in the club. Never had to worry if that guy was in the building. Became a very dear friend.
When there was a situation at the prison he worked at, he would walk into the room and yell “Daddy's home,” and the inmates would run back to their cells. A guy pulled a knife on him once, and he tried lecturing the man and telling him to put it away and go about his business, that it wasn't worth it. The guy came after him, and he said “have it your way, but lets at least make this fair,” and he stuck his hands in his pockets. The man with the knife was expecting him to pull one out too, but he just said “well, come on.” He proceeded to dodge the knife wielding maniac while literally kicking his ass. The guy refused to stop, so he kicked his knee, blowing it out, and then applied an americana to his arm and broke it.
Once, while I was with him, a drunk guy started trouble (he was fairly big). James warned him, and said stop what you're doing right now and apologize, or we will have a problem. They guy persisted, and james said “All its going to take me is this one thumb to put you down, and you don't want it.” Guy swings on him, and james ducks it, and jams the thumb directly under his ear, right where your jaw connects to your skull, and pinned him to the ground. He literally made him apologize, and sent the gentleman on his way.
Question: As a bouncer, Is there a telltale sign you look for that shows that someone underaged is trying to pass for 21?
Absolutely – no eye contact. I've also seen kids try one EDIT (a fake ID) while also wearing their dorm key on a lanyard around their neck, dead giveaway. You also would be checking an ID and have the person's friend call them by a different name than what the ID says.
Tip – if you want to use a fake ID, make sure it's a good one (ie: a real one, someone that looks like you), and know the info. If I ask you what your street address is, zip code, school district, or graduation year – and you know it all (without it sounding rehearsed), and it even moderately looks like you, I'm letting you in. It takes a lot of balls to look someone in the eye and tell them that they're lying to you and aren't who they say they are. It doesn't matter if I know the answer to the questions I ask like that (unless they're on the ID), but if you hesitate or show any signs that you don't know, I know its fake. Approach the doorman confidently, make eye contact, and ask how his night is going, while holding your money and waiting for him to take it. It puts him on the spot, and he's in a rush anyway.
I had a fake like this for a while. Knew the whole ID, front and back. Could tell you anything and everything about the guy. Got me into a lot of bars and bought me a lot of booze. Then the lady at the door of a little shithole bar in Marysville, Missouri did the unthinkable. She pulled out a pen and a piece of paper that had about 100 sloppily written signatures on it. I never expected or anticipated this. I failed, she took the ID. I asked her for it back and told her I'd leave. She smiled, looked me in the eyes and said “you can leave, or I can call the cops and they can verify that this is yours.”
She took it with a big smile, turned around and pinned it on her wall of other fake ID's. Bitch was good.
Yea not a lot of people do that. That's a technique usually reserved for liquor stores & gas stations. They teach that in the ABC classes. But most doormen are outside in the cold and don't keep a pen and paper handy. Call it a fluke. She was more of a bitch than smart. She fails to realize that you would have spent money in that bar (money that pays her wages), and now you'll never go back. I'm willing to bet you probably told a dozen of your friends about it, and they'll never go back. If a bar is to hard on fake IDs, word gets around (word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of advertisement) and they get a bad rep and underage kids will stop going. Believe it or not, underage kids can account for up to 20% of a bars revenue. They find a spot, stay loyal, and spend big.
Question: Worst thing you've ever seen happen?
On a night I wasn't working in the summer, I came in and saw a group of girls drinking at the bar. They were very young and one of them said it was her friends 18th birthday. The manager was the only one working that night and was feeding them drinks. I told him they were still in high school and he played it off like he knew and said he was just serving them grenadine and coke all night and tellin them there was booze in it. I believed him until they were all shitfaced an hour later. The birthday girl went to leave, and got to the top of the steel staircase and fell straight backwards, slamming hard on the ground. The sound her skull made when it hit the floor was nauseating. I rushed over and told everyone not to touch her and call and ambulance, and the manager said fuck that get her out the back door. She was at the very least, severely concussed, and out cold. Her friends also didn't want any cops involved, and they dragged her out the back and put her in a cab to go home. She ended up having a fractured skull, and was in the hospital for a few days, and didn't remember anything. Her parents called and threatened a lawsuit, but the manager deleted the security tapes and denied everything. It was some pretty awful shit. Glad that guy got fired.
Question: Best fight you've seen?
Best fight was my very first night working. It was not awesome. It was a “freestyle friday” rap battle contest, and I was the only white person in the bar of 400 people. Fight broke out for some reason, and it spread to the whole place. People were throwing bottles and chairs, stealing booze. A girl got her head stomped in by a grown man. It was a roadhouse style brawl. The bartenders all cowered behind the bar and inside the walk-ins. Me and 2 other bouncers pulled the fire alarm and and the cops showed up and pepper sprayed the entire place, hitting me with a direct shot to the face as I was carrying the injured girl out. The whole bar was trashed. The owner shut the place down for the rest of the month to rebuild and me and one of the other bouncers working that night were the only staff members that he retained.
I hardly consider myself (or other bouncers) a bad ass. Bouncer get a lot of cred for beating people up and fighting (which doesn't happen to often anymore) drunk people. That's the main issue here. You're sober, they're drunk – and probably really really drunk if they are trying to fight a bouncer. It's not an accomplishment, but it is stressful and a bit dangerous. I read a statistic somewhere that your body is about 60-70% less effective (physically, ie: in a fight) once you're at .08 BAC (no idea if thats true, but I'm sure there's substance to it). Reaction time, reasoning, power, agility, balance – all decline rapidly or are rendered non-existent when drunk.
Question: What was the weirdest, most random thing that happened while fulfilling any of the roles?
-Once found a kid sleeping in the urinal trough before, on a busy night
-We would find shoes while cleaning up every. single. night. It was always an odd number too. The floors and streets were fuckin disgusting to boot.
-After closing one night, one of the bartenders was unaccounted for. Wouldn't be a big deal usually, but she didn't close her register, and her tips were still out on the bar. We found her in the back room, passed out in an empty napkin box.
The box was even folded shut. Apparently she got shitfaced, and after her shift went to smoke in the back. We watched the tapes, she sat on the box, and fell through (she was a very tiny girl) and the flaps kind of sealed her in, and she passed out.
-some kid tried to come in with a 15″ hunting knife, just weird.
-confiscated all kinds of strange stuff, full bottles, flasks, knives, a bong, whippits, and a welding torch, among others
-once caught a kid drinking underage, that got busted because his wristband fell off. we searched him out of curiosity, he had a roll of tape and a copy of every wristband color and design we had used in the past year (dozens). When he would come, he would find out what kind of wristband we were using, then go around the corner and tape it on his wrist. Then he would walk right in as a re-entry, without paying or getting his id checked. that's dedication right there.
I once saw a classy young lady bend over while on the stripper pole in the middle of the dance floor and drop a deuce without skipping a beat. Didn't believe my lyin' eyes until cleanup when another bouncer called me over to report the finding. About the size of a snickers bar. Kind of like caddyshack. Nobody saw it, I barely noticed it myself. I just saw the change in motion with her dance. Looked like she was just droppin it, but when she stayed squatted for a second I thought she might have dropped something or been puking. Trust me, in a packed, dark dance floor with 500 people, the guy next to you could be on fire and you wouldn't notice.
Question: Have people bribed you to get into clubs before ie. underaged kids, ugly people, old ladies?
Yes. I made $550 in cash one night from people bribing me to skip the hour long line when it was about 2 degrees out. I charged $25 per person to get to the front, still have to wait to be let in, get your ID checked, and pay cover. At the end of the night I gave every bouncer on the floor $50, tipped the bartenders $100, and kept $25 for myself.
I've been offered plenty of cash to let underages in and such, but I don't take it. Not worth the trouble.
Be careful, there are bouncers out there that take bribes to let people skip the security pat-down. I had a few on my staff doing it and they were all fired. Recipe for disaster. Ugly people, old ladies, etc – not a concern. Old ladies usually have money, and if the club is packed, what difference does it make if they come in? No reason to keep them out. The uggos? They are the ones that will spend money in the bar, they have to work harder (spend more) to get laid. But there's some situations that you don't want someone inside, in which case you don't need to refuse entry and make things worse. I could simply talk them out of wanting to come in (“It's beat inside, I hear everyone is at XYZ club down the street” – or “$20 cover, private party”)
Why the bartenders? They're the reason you have a job, and for the most part, they're great people. In a college town, they might not make shit even during a packed night. And it always comes back to you – that bartender will hook you up when you come in on your night off, she'll bring you water when your working a post, etc. And yes, they shared tips with us at this place. They respected and appreciated us, and we all know that's a 2-way street.
Continue reading on the next page…
Question: Tips and secrets, eh? Care to share? I always am cool/make small talk with bouncers/doormen but my friends seem to think if you look like your on a mission and walk past after showing your ID you don't have to pay cover/can get into VIP areas ect. They often play the, “Do you know who I am?!” card. Seems to work more then it doesn't.
“Do you know who I am?” or any form of it will surely not work. The 2 most common answers “No, and I don't care,” and “No, and that should tell you something.” Every time someone has used that line, it has never worked. Name dropping does not work either. If you know somebody, or somebody knows you, the best way to handle it is to wait until the doorman has a free minute, and speak to him on the side. Tell him that you know so and so, or so and so asked you to come down, and when he gets a chance if he could have them come out. Most times they'll either just let you in, or radio the guy and you'll be taken care of. Just like a cop, they are an authority figure and you are at their mercy. You need to show that you respect their authority and appreciate what they do and that they have power over you. In this situation, they feel respected and it puts them in a position to make the right choice of being nice to you. If you holler at them and try it in front of other patrons, they have to establish their authority and show you who's boss (kind of like, “I'm not gonna let this guy tell me what to do”).
If you don't have an “in”, you need to act the part. Actions speak way louder than words, and you need to act like you've been there before. If you want to get into VIP, just walk briskly, say hi to the doorman in stride and walk through. Once you're in, they can't exactly abandon their post to chase you down, and won't figure its an issue. Bouncers are pretty damn lazy. If you make small talk or try to befriend the bouncers, keep it short and move on. They hate having someone hang around next to them like they're “helping out” and its really annoying while you're trying to do your job. Try mentioning that you work in another bar, and ask if they give bar courtesy. If the guy doesn't know what it is, tell them that when he and his coworkers come to your club, they get the VIP treatment and free cover, in exchange for the same courtesy at their place. Most times they'll say yes. Just hope they don't know anyone at that place (if they do, say you just started there). There were a couple guys that would come up to me, introduce themselves, and kiss my ass for a quick second before leaving. Then they'd swing by an hour later, call me by my name, and hand me a red bull or a bottle of water and say thanks. Those guys got taken care of every time they came in after.
Question: As a bouncer myself, ive seen wasted girls behave in pretty terrible ways. What are some of the worst things youve seen them do? And have you noticed any trends of bad behaviour?
Others? They all are incredibly filthy creatures, and you of course know that the ladies room should have a sign over it that reads “Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here.” I've seen wasted girls fight, spit, throw drinks, piss and shit anywhere & everywhere, fuck, steal tips, steal drinks, etc. One time a drunk chick offered to blow me just to skip the line (not to get in, or get free cover, just to get to the front).
As far as behavior trends go, its scary. Girls are degenerates when they go out. They all lie (terribly at that), use fake IDs, try to sneak mass quantities of booze inside, and generally just act like assholes. But the scary part is their complete lack of responsibility and concern for their own safety when they go out. They go to the club get shitfaced and pass out, most times in the bathroom or in some dark remote corner of the place, and just assume everything will be OK. Do they think the drunk-bitch fairy just comes and poof makes them appear at home, safe and sound? They're relying on the kindness of strangers and the responsibility of their friends to ensure they make it home and don't wind up dead, in jail, or raped. If I'm at a bar and I start feeling like I'm going down (which happens quite a bit), I make sure I get my ass out of there. Stay safe.
I'd be sexist if it weren't the truth. Granted, there are lots of responsible girls that don't behave like this – they go out in groups, have some dancing/drinks, and go right home. Most people call them cockteases. I've got no problem with a lady that likes to party, but most of these chicks literally pound shots until they literally drop and blackout, and in a hostile environment. It's like riding the subway in NYC and just laying down on the floor and taking a nap for a few hours, hoping that you wake up in your bed with no repercussions.
Question: Seems like a great way to network. What's the most money you've ever seen someone spend? Any celeb stories?
One guy dropped about $2 grand a night 4 nights/week for an entire year. He was a freshman.
Pac Man Jones once spit on my foot and said “Do you know who the fuck I'm am cuhh?!” That was about 2 weeks after he paralyzed a bouncer in Vegas. I just simply told him he couldnt come in. This was like 2 weeks after he was involved in that whole strip club shooting in vegas. I knew who he was as soon as he approached, and there was no way in hell I was letting him and his entourage in.
I also saw Evan Royster (Rb for the redskins now, I believe?) get knocked stone cold unconscious by a kid no bigger than my left leg. They weren't even fighting. Kid just walked up, rocked him, and left. I still laugh about that one… He had just wrapped up his breakout season at PSU. He's actually a really nice guy, and didn't do anything at all. I guess the other dude was a Michigan fan.
Question: What are the average qualifications the bouncers have at your club? What is your major in school? Any advice/general rules/tips for people going to clubs?
-I wanted someone that could handle themselves and was good with people, friendly. Anyone that played team sports was a plus, because they know how to work together. Wrestling experience was highly valued, because 90% of all fights go to the ground, and the various holds are useful when escorting people out and restraining people. They also needed to have a 2.5 GPA if they were a student, and had to maintain it. Size was not an issue. The best bouncer I ever worked with was a skinny white kid that was 5' 6″ 165lbs.
-My bouncing days are behind me, thank goodness, but in school I majored in business management and labor & industrial relations and got my degree.
-Be nice, be respectful, and be responsible. Keep your phone, keys and wallet in your front pockets at all times, and always make sure you have your credit card before you leave the bar. Tip big on your first drink ($10) and make it a simple one (bottle of beer). Stay with the same bartender all night and tip $1 per round, you'll never wait for a drink all night.
Question: How much money do they pay you to perform such a dangerous job?
Not much. As a bouncer you're lucky to get $10/hr under the table. Some clubs make you fill out w-2s now and pay you by check, and in that case you're probably getting $8-9/hr and maybe a tipout.
I paid my guys $8.50 an hour plus perks. They got free draft when they came in on their off night, never paid cover anywhere in town, got in anywhere in town (even if underage), and also got 2 people in free each night. I also had the bartenders tip out 5-10% every night for the bouncers (depending on how much they made), but instead of each bouncer getting an extra $2-$5 per night, I'd save it up for a month. At the end of the month I'd distribute envelopes of cash accordingly, usually about $80-$150 each, depending on their quality/quantity of work.
As a manager it differs wildly. One place it was $1000/week plus 5% of the door. One place it was $11/hr plus $20 cash each night. Another paid $10/hr cash, but I got the same rate and kept all my tips if I bartended. Bartenders make the most. Upwards of $250/night, but shifts are few and far between, and its feast or famine.
Question: How many times a week would you say you actually ended up fighting people? Have you ever gone home with a girl coming from the club or anything of that sort?
Fights happened maybe once a week. The job isn't about fighting, it's about preventing them, keeping everyone safe, and ending violence as quickly and quietly as possible if it starts. Also depends on the place. One large club I worked at had about 1 fight per night, another small bar had maybe 1 per semester.
Girls, happens all the time. Not to humble brag or anything like that. But usually you aren't taking them home with you (you don't leave til maybe 4 or 5am, they're long gone by then). We actually rented an apartment around the corner we used for mid-shift hookups, naps, and bathroom breaks. Most times with girls its just a quickie in the backroom or office, or you get a number.
Question: I'm sure you've seen tons of crazy shit but is there a particular WTF moment or incident that stands out from the rest?
There was a guy one time we knew would be trouble from the second he walked (stumbled) in. He was a mix of mind-blowingly drunk and stone cold sober/attentive. I had a bouncer go talk to him to let him know we were watching and knew he was fucked up, and he immediately swung on the bouncer. It was a slow night, so 4-5 of us grabbed him up and started dragging him out. It was an epic and arduous battle to do so. He had the strength of 10 men and did not want to leave. I put him in a rear naked choke and had it locked up for about 2 minutes (which is EXTREMELY tiring), and he didn't go out. We got him out the door and he popped up and threw his watch in my face, so I hit him in the knee with my asp baton (which will put anyone down). He didn't even flinch, at which point I just ordered everyone inside and locked the door. I came around the back and continued to watch him approach a crowd of black guys and start yelling racial slurs at them. They beat his ass to a pulp, smashing his face through a car window, stomping him, breaking bottles over his head, etc. Each time he kept popping right back to his feet, asking for more. Eventually the cops (8 of them) came and subdued and arrested him.
TL;DR – guy was high on mixture of PCP and crystal meth, spent 6 days in the ICU as a result of his injuries.
Question: What is one of the craziest things to every happen to you while you were working? Something that made you possible reconsider being security/bouncing?
Craziest: I caught a guy on the dance floor selling weed one night, and took him in the back room. I told him I was going to search him, and if he had anything on him we'd handle it from there. He refused and swung on me. He was about your size, black, maybe 140lbs soaking wet. I took him down and applied a choke, to no avail. My radio shattered in the scuffle, and I was alone with this guy, but not too worried due to our size difference. We fought for about 15 minutes before another bouncer came in while taking out trash, by which time it was over. At one point, I had put my knee and full weight on the back of his head, and he was bucking me off and moving his head from side to side on the concrete floor. I watched as the skin peeled off his forehead and blood pooled everywhere. I flipped him over and crushed his windpipe with my hand and asked if he was done. He spit blood in my face (VERY scary) and muttered “fuck you.” At that point I kind of went black with rage and the next thing I knew I was dragging his unconscious body up the steps by his legs (this is when the other bouncer walked in), and he had pissed himself. We found about 2 oz of weed on him, all in dime bags, and decided to call the cops. Cops came and we told them what happened and gave them the 12 dime bags (wink wink) that he had on him. Turns out he had a bench warrant out and this was his 3rd felony arrest. He went away for a long time. Oh yea, he was high on crack, which was found in his sock.
Reconsidered career change: I had guns pulled 3 nights in a row one week. That was scary. Before it ever happens, you simply think to yourself that it wouldn't be a big deal and you'd knock the asshole out. Yea right. I immediately needed new underwear and froze. Not a fan of guns.
Question: Was there ever a time when people treated you with respect, so much so that you let them in when you weren't allowed to? What's the most positive experience working there?
Yes. I had a kid that was kind and courteous every night he came in. Didn't take much. He always waited patiently, never caused problems, “yes sir, no sir” to every question. When he would go home he would stand by me waiting for a cab, but only say hi how are you, thanks, and have a good night stay safe. Overtime I'd BS with him, and after a semester I gave him a VIP card for free cover and no wait in line good for the next 3 years.
One time I also had a kid causing a ton of problems on the door after he got kicked out, and just would not leave the area. Cussing, spitting, yelling, threatening – you name it. While I was dealing with him, a regular customer came up to me trying to get 2 underage girls in without waiting in line or paying cover. I told him “not now” about 100 times but he would shut up. Then he whispered in my ear “how about I get this guy outta here for you?” I told him I didn't care, and he calmly took a hit off his cigarette, turned around, and rocked the troublemaker. I mean he fuckin Chuck Liddel'd his ass, straight out cold. I ushered him and his guests right in, and he slipped me a $50 on his way out and said thanks.
Most positive experience? All of it. Learning the tricks, networking, making new friends. Learning to bartend is a ridiculously easy and valuable skill.
Question: Sometimes it can feel like the bouncers are abusing their power when they seem to kick someone out for honest mistakes or small errors. Do you find this is generally the case or that it's far more reasonable than patrons realize?
Just like cops, there's good ones and bad ones. Most bouncers are regular guys just trying to pay the bills while they're in school, and get a few phone #s while theyre at it.
I had one guy on my staff that I got a lot of complaints about, and started watching him. He was kicking out about 20 people a night, and I figured he just had a good eye for catching shit. (note: If one of my guys said someone had to go, they had to go. You cant show dissension amongst the ranks and have bouncers arguing). I started watching him and discovered he was manufacturing the conflicts. He was trying to be an alpha male, and would do shit like bump into someone intentionally, and then start yelling at them and pushing them. He wanted fights to happen so he could beat people up. Make no mistake, people love kicking someones ass, but getting in a fight sucks dick, and there's a difference. I warned him about it and the behavior continued. I caught him trying to fight a guy half his size because he spilled a beer on him. I told him to go home for the night, and cool off, we'd discuss it later. He told me to fuck myself and pushed me. He was violently fired.
If you get kicked out, I know it sucks, it it can potentially ruin your night. Don't take it personal. ITS NEVER PERSONAL. Know that it could have been a lot worse, count your blessings. Apologize profusely to the staff and LEAVE. When you come back to the bar in the future, find whomever it was that kicked you out, or the manager, and apologize again for the situation. Jump on the grenade and take the blame, whether it was your fault or not. You'll never have a problem at that bar again.
Question: Why did you stop bouncing? My cousin was a fireman and a bouncer on his off days. He had to quit because it felt like he was fighting every night. Most guys who get beat up say they're gonna sue, but never follow through. Anyhow, he'd lose his job and pension if he got charged or anything. So he figured it wasn't worth the risk and just stopped.
You nailed it. Way to risky. It's not about fighting anymore. It's about someone getting hurt on your property or as the result of you/your colleague's actions so they can sue. The physical punishment wasn't all so bad. But after all the guns, getting followed home, pepper sprayed, and stabbed with a screw driver, enough was enough. I swore off the big clubs and went to restaurant/bars, and small bar only places (< 50 person crowd).