Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sunglasses in a nightclub

If you wear sunglasses in a nightclub, you are a retarded idiot - male or female - and deserve compulsory sterilisation to prevent future generations being afflicted with your stupidity.

Nightclubs are dark. Sunglasses make things darker. So by logic you should be blind when you wear sunglasses in a nightclub. Which would explain some of their behaviour, come to think about it.

Then there's male patron dancing - it's so spasmodic I wonder whether to laugh or administer an insulin shot in case they're actually having a seizure as opposed to dancing like they are.

I was stuck on one of the main dancefloors for the first part of the night. Patrons were irritating me through their existence, so I managed to swap out to a position outside the club. In fact it was opposite the road to the club. Which suited me fine. Many other bouncers hate not being inside and contracting gods know what from the patrons by proxy.
It was a VERY hot night so I was more than happy to sit in the fresh air getting paid the same rate as the people inside sweating themselves thin.

The only incident that happened was a group of three backpackers walked past when I was doing the important mental calculation of whether to have a kebab or go home after shift. One of them decided to yell 'BOO' at me because he thought it was a fun thing to do. I was just about to make up my mind so was not impressed and yelled at him. They couldn't understand why I was yelling at them, and tried to cross the road into the club. I radioed up that they were disorderely and disrepectful to security staff, so they were refused entry. They can say what they like, but we can still ruin their night!


Things got stupidly busy over Christmas - worked every night except Christmas Day. Seriously. But I made good money and have now got a pay rise, so can't whinge too much.

New Year's Eve was surpisingly uneventful at the bar I worked at. New Year's Day involved 16 hours - 10 at a big horse race and the other 6 at the usual bar. Both were busy, feral and full of idiots. A complaint was made that I took bribes on the gate. Which is bullshit - I didn't get a chance to! Meanwhile someone else pulled in $2k of bribes and got away with it. Bastard.

Yesterday I received a court summons to testify against a guy who assaulted me nearly a year ago. I've quite honestly forgotten most of the incident and really have better things to do than dredge it up so that he can get a slap on the wrist and a $200 fine.

Meanwhile, my hours seem to have shot up to four/five nights a week again. Which is good for the extra cash but I'm worried about creeping into a higher tax bracket and the last thing I want to do is pay more tax to a government who couldn't spend it properly if they tried.

On another note I've started carrying Speedcuffs on the door. It's raised a lot of eyebrows with everyone except the police. But there's no law against it and they're quite visible on the belt. Strangely enough, since I've started wearing them, nobody's fucked with me. At all. Though it might have something to do with with the fact that I've taken to wearing my police-issue kevlar-lined leather gloves anytime I can unless the weather is unbearably hot. Patrons either ignore it or ask why I'm wearing them.

The line I give is 'It protects my hands from cuts, scratches and bites'. The real reason that voices itself in my head as I tell them this is 'Because I would rather do anything else in the world than come into physical contact with you after you've spent hours in a sweatbox covered in alcohol, tears, sweat and god knows what else. Plus you could be Hep C positive for all I know. Please don't bleed on me!' Other door staff don't mind touching, hugging or kissing patrons (especially the female ones) after they come out from the club at chuck-out. I'd rather not - it means I'll have to sanitise my clothes and any exposed skin after.

We're also facing a dilemma at one of the venues. The place has large windows, which due to the heat are staying open most of the night. In a spectacular design floor, these windows set the background against which the lines form. They're fronted by two railings but are being easily navigated by people who are vaulting over them when it's busy and there's a line out front.

We have an unofficial policy of performing loud, high-profile, messy and sometimes painful removals of those who do decide to practice their gymnastics and put them on the floor out the front. It's in full view of the line to send a message to them all - 'Jump the windows and you'll get humiliated and put on your arse'. For the most part it works, but it's not a long term solution. Management want to put more railings in. I personally think it'll make the place look like Fort Knox. I suggested running small wires down the inside of the railings, which are subtle and covert, but around which the jumpers have to curl their hands to get a grip on the railinsg. We then electrify those wires. It's cheap and legal and we can set the voltage so we don't have to hurt them, merely make them feel quite uncomfortable and dissuade them from jumping.

For some reason management are sticking with the railings. They also ignored my request for a water cannon to clear out the beer garden of stragglers who take the piss in leaving. So Saturday night I'm just going to rig up the hose they use to wash the floors after closing and attach a nozzle to it. Hey - it's hot at the moment - the patrons should be grateful! And let's face it - many of them need a wash!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Why I REALLY Should Have Known Better...

Caring doesn't pay. Truly, it doesn't!

We had a fight inside the bar tonight, and no sooner had we separated the two warring parties (literally entwined in a lover's embrace with each other) than we had another idiot running in from nowhere and starting to punch one of the people we'd just separated.

Luckily there were enough of us to bundle everyone out. Our flying kickboxer was putting up a bit of a struggle, and I thought it possible that the guy he had punched would want to press charges. So I tried to handcuff Flying Kickboxer. To prevent the prosecution of the case being hindered by his disappearance, to ascertain his details, to prevent him causing further injury to other people and to prevent injury to himself. And because it looks better and is safer than having two or three door staff jumping on him and dragging him out. These are of course all pretexts - I can't just cuff someone willy nilly and theoretically not for a standard physical removal.

The head doorman had one arm of Flying Kickboxer, who was putting up a bit of a struggle. So the handcuff was inadvertendly and unintentionally used as leverage. And damn effective leverage might I say! When you have thick steel nickel grating against a particularly sensitive part of the wrist, you do as you're told. He went out, followed by another who was being dragged out by the legs, and another who went out semi-upright.

But since, for some, a night out is NEVER complete without a good old-fashioned punch up, they started on each other in the street. Some random bitch and her man became involved and the fight continued on the other side of the street. The woman was incredibly angry and was resisting all physical and verbal efforts to hold her back, to get at one of the party from the fight inside.

Synapses in my brain misfired. I wasn't thinking straight and did not consider my own personal safety. I went against years of training and confrontational experience, and actually gave a damn that this hysterical woman could actually cause a fair bit of damage to the object upon which she had fixated her rage. No idea why I did this - normally I really couldn't care less, beyond my limited legal obligation of duty of care (which is conveniently hazy), whether people I don't know live, die or suffer on the street. Can't explain or justify this lapse in thought or judgement. But I know I'll have this apathy strongly reinforced into the hereafter.

So I went to the other side of the road and tried to separate the parties. The woman started pushing, shoving and scratching me. Then she made a full-blown lunge at the guy positioned behind me, who was involved in the bar fight. I spun round and bear-hugged her as she went past, dragging her off her trajectory. Next I felt an arm around my neck trying to choke me. I thought it was a colleague who had mistaken me for a patron -after all I was wearing a dark jacket and trousers. I shouted I was security and heard an unfamiliar voice attached to the arm. I let go of the woman and the guy let go of me. Looking around I saw there were no colleagues - I'd involved myself in something I should not have done and that could have ended with more serious consequences for me.

Initially I wanted to press charges and insisted on doing so. Police asked me to view CCTV if avaialble. There wasn't. The manager pointed out the female involved, against whom I also wanted charges laid, was a good customer. I told him I didn't give a damn if she spent a million dollars a night in there. Police said it would be unlikely to go anywhere. Which I knew, but still wanted to see how far I could go with it. In the end I dropped it. Had there been CCTV I would have pressed ahead.

There's a school of thought that door staff shouldn't press charges when assaulted, minor or not. I think that's an incredibly outdated and naive view by people who should know better. We are not paid to be assaulted. We are not paid to be punching bags. We are paid to monitor and supervise patron access and behaviour in the venue, and intervene in situations as required. Nowhere in our job description does it say that sustaining injury without recourse is a necessary requirement. Therefore those who assault me in the course of my duty, without provocation or justification, should be dealt with accordingly.

So the things I learnt from this encounter

1. Never leave the door. No matter what. Unless I know one of the people involved, I will not intervene.
2. Don't care. Not your problem. Do your minimum legal obligation and that's it.
3. Check your surroundings - a potent refresher of something drilled into me for ages that lapsed due to inactivity.

So if you're involved in any sort of incident on the street and I'm on the door and I don't know you - stiff shit. If it's not immediately outside the door, it's not my problem. I won't get involved. I come first. Sorry but that's the way it is.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday Night Shite

Some vignettes from a Saturday night that drained me of energy and enthusiasm for the entire nightclub industry and the 'collateral damage' to the surrounding area it causes:

1. I'm stood guarding an exit door at the club and see an incredibly overt drug deal occur, by which a young man we shall describe as 'ecstatic' passed three little tabs to a 'nearly ecstatic' man in exchange for about $50. Presumably these tabs were to help the second guy transced to not-quite-religious ecstacy. It occurred in full of view of about 10 other people including myself.

Since I'm still in 'police mode' at times, my first instinct was to jump on the dealer, cuff him and turn him over to the boys in blue. However the 'done' thing is to have a quiet word with the dealer, advise them to deal off-premises, and leave it at that.

This doesn't stand in my book - as far as I'm concerned it's condoning the behaviour, whether it occurs on-premises of off-premises. Still, I tried having a word with the dealer, and this was the result:

"Dude, it's like... cool, ok? I'm friends with the boys here so it's all good"

I should hasten to point out that for some wannabes, 'the boys' refers to whoever is listed on the licence plaque at the top of the main entry to the premises as the manager, and whichever security staff the person in question is able to see the names of on their security tags. In what passes for their minds, remembering a couple of names associated with the venue is tantamount to 'knowing' or being 'friends' with said people. Unfortunately everybody name drops everybody else, so the entire concept loses value and any argument centred around name dropping becomes vacuous by default. But, in their world, where it counts (to them), they are entitled to unlimited perks, drink discounts and preferential treatment by security. I pointed out this folly in slightly more abrupt terms and was advised to 'chill out, it's all good'. I refrained from throwing him through the nearest window, but it was challenging.

2. A pilled up female insisting I dance with her and not taking no for an answer. Not wishing to hurt her feelings, I challenged her to stay quiet and still for 60 full seconds, then I would dance with her. Owing to the substance she was on, and the chemical imbalance this was creating in her brain, this was physically impossible for her. Somehow she got the message and stumbled off.

3. Finishing my shift, I walked along a street to get a taxi home (easier said than done). One group of three males were sat on the sidewalk street drinking. An unmarked police car pulled up, and in a vain attempt to conceal the crime they were caught red-handed committing - that of street drinking - one of them launched the bottle behind them, where it smashed into a wall and beer spilt onto the pavement. Boy Genius earnt himself two fines - one for street drinking and the second for criminal damage, since it would cost the council money to clean the pavement.

4. On the same street, about 50 metres up, were three incredibly attractive, stunning and intelligent females lying spreadeagled on the pavement. I do, of course, pepper the previous sentence with light sprinklings of sarcasm. Or coat it, depending on your point of view.

A taxi pulled up because a male unconnected with their party had flagged it down. One of the girls, exhibiting motor skills far beyond her level of intoxication, got up and staggered over to the taxi. She demanded that she and her three equally lovely friends be given a lift to wherever they wanted to go. When the taxi driver pointed out the obvious - that they were drunk and lying on the pavement, thus shooting to the top of the 'Cabbie's List Of Likely Problem Passengers', she shot back with:

"You're leaving three girls on the side of the street. That's disgusting. You're a fucking arsehole."

In my younger days, my blood would have boiled and I'd have given her a piece of my mind. Now, I've been overexposed to such drunken displays of egotism, deluded logic and utter lack of personal responsibility that I am used to it and am emotionally numb. Instead, the cabbie's new fare answered for me:

"If you didn't get yourselves so drunk, act like silly bitches and weren't so rude you'd probably be home by now. The problem comes back to you 'cos you can't handle your piss. Seeya!"

What he said.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Melbourne Cup 2007 - Here We Go Again

Remember Melbourne Cup last year?

Here we go again. This time, I'm at the main racecourse, from which the steady stream of drunks who flooded the casino and caused all kinds of dramas last year will come.

I'm on fence-jumper duty, which involves patrolling a sector to deter and prevent people from effecting entry into the racecourse, and physically ejecting those who do. Although I'm hoping to instead be posted on a 'watchtower' of sorts where I can call up other people to do the running around instead!

The pay is fantastic - far better than I was on or would be on at the casino even with penalty rates, and I hope that they'll require people to stay on to help 'clean out' the remaining stragglers after the mass exodus to the casino and beyond - I could certainly use the money! Then I'll meet up with some people for beers in one of the quieter pubs and wrap up the day. Should be fun!

On other fronts, my venues have settled down and I'm regularly working the same two each week. There's a great team on each, the clientele are pretty decent and we don't get much trouble. And since my day job means I no longer need to work 5-6 nights a week for the money. So I can enjoy the work more now and won't risk burnout.

Stay tuned for a full write-up of one of Australia most popular sporting events... from an 'insider's' perspective!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Proving Manhood = Proving Idiocy And Insecurity

Why I Don’t Like Changing Venues…

Our company picked up a new venue, and last night was the first night on it. I was pulled of my normal favourite wine bar for it, but it helped the boss and I didn’t mind really.

The place is generally pretty trendy, and the majority of the girls who attend are absolute stunners yet dress respectably. There were also far more girls than guys in the place – always a good sign that there probably won’t be much trouble.

And there wasn’t – just one fight and a couple of removals. In one, I was wearing my black leather gloves as I’d just come in from the door to assist and I was freezing outside.

Some know-it-all who said he worked as a glassie at a dodgy pub said “The bouncers at my club only wear gloves when they’re going to fuck someone up. This is my brother you’re going to remove, so if you’re going to fuck him up, I’m ready to party”. I communicated that this wasn’t a dodgy pub, I wasn’t going to fuck anyone up and to prove it I took the gloves off. He seemed almost disappointed and revved himself up further with some fighting talk I didn’t bother responding to.

Whilst this was going on his brother, very drunk, was making his way to the ‘back door’ (which really just opens onto the same street as the front door, just a bit further down the road). Glassie was excited that we were ‘taking him out the back’, because to him it proved that we were going to rough his brother up, and thus give him a chance to prove how much of a man he was by valiantly taking us all on. Classic example of confirmation bias – selecting evidence to prove your own view in spite of the big picture and what’s actually going on proving the opposite (to VERY simply state the psychological phenomenon).

We got out the door and Glassie said ‘Right, we’re out the back. Let’s go’. Puzzled, I pointed out we were on the same street as the front door, with regular police patrols going up and down. ‘So now what?’ asked Glassie.

‘That’s it. End of incident. I’m going back on the door’ replied I.

Glassie seemed disheartened. No fighting. No proving of manhood. No winding up the bouncer to provoke him into a fight.

Can’t please everyone I suppose. Would rather go home in one piece than make his day by sinking to his level.

Ah well, back to the wine bar next week. Suits me fine – I get on with the regular patrons and we have no trouble. If there’s any minor issues then management sort it out. It’s strange but the atmosphere there is not conducive to trouble even if troublemakers are in there.

One night we had a young bloke high on speed go crazy in the (small) toilet and kick the hand dryer off its mounting. The boss told him he had to leave. After a few seconds of blank starting, partly due to the drugs, he left without incident. Had it been anywhere else, I’m pretty sure it would have kicked off.

Might have been how the boss spoke to him or the very convivial atmosphere of the place, but one gets the impression that trying to prove manhood in a place like the wine bar would not garner any support or encouragement from the patronage to fuel the behaviour.

And rightly so.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Drunk on duty...

... not me, I hasten to add. One of the people I share(d) the roster with has been 'removed' from duty due to numerous occasions in which they've turned up smashed. I know this is a cruisy, laid-back gig but turning up half-cut is never a good way to keep the job for long!

Was asked to go full-time in replacement. Turned it down - I've got too much going on. Am really getting into the copywriting side of things now (something I do on the side) and may even be able to negotiate a speaking arrangement in Malaysia in September on a niche area of Internet marketing that I'm gradually developing some expert knowledge in!

Getting a decent income for the moment - fingers crossed it stays that way for the moment. Need to have enough in the bank to make a dent in the debts in the UK I have to pay off still. And then there's the flights costs to pay upfront for the upcoming speaking events, which are likely to be re-imbursed when we make enough sales of IM products (and the guy I work for normally ALWAYS makes a good profit at each event).

With the AFL season coming to a close the availability of hours on weekends is likely to shift from the main stadium to another stadium as the football (read: soccer) season starts up. At this time of year there's enough events to keep people in guarding and crowd control jobs anyway. And no job I've worked before or since has compared to the mayhem of Melbourne Cup day. Thank God I won't have to deal with that one again - nowhere can be as bad as the casino on that day! Might end up working one of the racecourses dotted around the place - up in the VIP area with luck. Or maybe I'll be off in another country at a marketing seminar - will have to check the calendar...

Speaking of the old place, my new housemate had her head rammed through a glass window and then hit against a wall by a particularly angry patron one Saturday night a few weeks back. No wonder that place gets bad press for the sheer amount of trouble that goes on and the complete inability of their security team to stay on top of things. I keep going on about the place and sound bitter, but I just found it astounding that I was assaulted twice (relatively minor in both cases) in the police in nearly three years service, yet was assaulted at least once a month whilst working at the old place, and that was just in five months!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Security in an upmarket world...

Well I've gone from dealing with the general dregs of society who frequent the casino to upmarket wine bars and high-profile events.

Thanks to a combined effort of two casual jobs plus copywriting work on the side, I'm earning far more than I would have done in the Air Force; double what I was on at the casino and with fewer hours and less risk.

Pressed charges against the idiot who assaulted me (wasn't connected and the threats never had anything in them).

I love the wine bar - it's a great place; excellent wine and decent people who go there. I've never had any trouble and have befriended some of the patrons, all of whom are well-to-do and very personable.

To keep my hands in the action I goto a nightclub in the main district after the wine bar. Even there the worst nights do not compare to the casino. Further, should any trouble arise we deal with them as required - up to and including chokeouts if worst comes to worst. I've only done a handful of physical removals there over a course of months (compared to the casino where it was at least one or two a night on a quiet night) and have been able to talk down most people. Saw one guy get tasered, which was quite amusing.

A more detailed blog over the weekend - pretty tired from standing on the door for a classical music concert. God it's hard work! :P