Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday night feralness

Last night was an unusual one - there weren't that many people out, but the ones that were out qualfied to be included in a general population cull for the good of the rest of mankind.

Worked an upmarket bar, where normally nothing EVER happens - except for last night...

First up, a group of three doctors came in and drank far too much, causing one of their number to fall over onto a table, smashing a wine glass and getting wine shards into his hands. The bar manager came out after hearing the commotion, and identified the fallen male as one for whom another in the group had vouched for as having had 'only one drink'. This may have been a correct assertion had the 'one drink' been served in a two litre wine glass. The bar manager approached the doctor whom had 'vouched', who did not take kindly to being asked why this apparently incredibly sober male was now lying on the floor next to an upturned table and a broken wine glass. He pulled out his wallet and an identification card, that identified him as a doctor employed by the police academy. In this doctor's mind, this apparently granted him the sworn powers of a police officer, and qualified him to make judgement calls on licensing issues. He accused us of being overcrowded and breaching the licensing requirements, pulling out his mobile to phone someone as he did so. After hanging up, the phone conversation went like this:

Doctor: "You're only licensed for 123 people."
Bar manager: "Ummm.... it's actually 146."
Doctor: "Bullshit. It's 123, you're overcrowded and you're going to lose your licence."
Bar manager: "I'll go do a count." (wanders off)

Accusing the bar manager of kicking him out, when no such activity had occurred, he walked out of the bar on his phone. I followed him back to the door and stood there, watching as he mumbled something about 'overcrowding' to someone on the other end. Whoever he spoke to clearly didn't want to know, as he wandered off and didn't return. It was probably for the best, as had anyone turned up to follow up on the inquiry, the doctor would have had to account for why, when he was so adamant the place was in breach of its licensing obligations, he was so insistent on breaking the law by getting his intoxicated friend to remain on the premises.

Next, a group of three were cut off from the bar and became abusive towards staff. They left shortly after, but ended up getting back in as I didn't match up the description given with the people properly. Not to worry, they'd be in and out all night, it would seem. So, one by one, as they filtered out to the smoking area for a cigarette, they were politely but firmly denied re-entry. All but one objected, who wanted to go back in just to give his keys to his girlfriend. Knowing that he'd use this as an excuse to get inside then stay, I went with him. Sure enough, after handing the keys over he started an in-depth conversation with his better half. I interrupted and told him he had to leave, that I, by rights, should not have let him back in at all and was doing him a favour, and he had now fulfilled the task for which he was granted re-entry. He argued that he should be allowed to stay as he wasn't drinking anymore. I told him that wouldn't cut it, and that we were legally obliged to ensure people who were intoxicated did not remain on the premises, especially those who had been cut off from the bar! His girlfriend persuaded him to finish their conversation outside, and he went with her reluctantly. Had she not done that he would have been physically escorted out.

The bar closed and I jogged down to a club in the city centre's main clubbing district to pick up a couple of extra hours. Jogging in boots, trousers and jacket is far more tiring than jogging in sporting gear!

At the club, I was posted in their live band area. Within 15 minutes, a guy was acting up, jumping on stage and dancing. A colleague got him down, then, when his back was turned, the guy gave him the figure. This display of petulant arrogance would not go unchallenged, and I made my way across to my colleague to summon his help with removing the prat from the premises. Just then, another colleague arrived on scene, roving around. Telling him what had happened, he approached the prat and asked him to leave. Prat was refusing, and as my colleague went to take the prat's drink out of his hands to help effect the removal, prat threw the drink at my collaegue and swung at him. Well, that's it, noone starts on our boys or girls! Three of us jumped on him. He was a big bloke and was throwing himself around trying to get us off him. My colleague headlocked him, and prat grabbed the locking arm with his arm to try and get it off his neck. I grabbed prat's arm and fingerlocked him, pulling his arm up and behind his head. Prat threw his body forward to try and get free. Fuck it, we're going to have to floor him in front of several hundred people. We got him on the ground, but he rolled onto his front and tried to grab my leg and pull it out from under me. Lucky for him that I kept my balance, otherwise I would have collapsed my entire body weight on one knee, which was directly above his face. That would have hurt in the morning. He was endangering himself as well as us, and it shouldn't take three of us to restrain this guy. We get him on his back, one colleague pinned his leagues, the other his torso and arms and I place my knee on the side of his head and held it in place. He wasn't going anywhere now. Some of his mates tried to intervene, but were pushed back by colleagues who had arrived to assist. When the three of us decided that he wasn't going to struggle as much, we got him up. That is, we tried, as he was trying to be a dead weight Colleagues got one arm each and pulled him to his knees, but then he started violently thrashing about again. He ended up being dragged out with all four limbs carried by security. Afterwards, he apparently went around the front and start a fight at the front door. Dickhead.

At the end of the night, I was tasked with standing out the front of the club to ensure that no idiots went onto the road unncessarily. Personally I think some of them could do with being cleaned up by a taxi, but if someone gets hit it clogs the road up and causes delays, which means more drunken idiots hanging around for longer and not going home, getting agitated and starting fights. Some got on the road, others argued, one idiot told me to 'Fuck off and keep walking, cunt". I secretly hoped he'd either be hit by a car or one of the drunken aggressive idiots that dotted the street would see fit to king hit him. Sadly neither happened. That's the thing about this job - idiots like that wind you up, quite intensely, for a few minutes, then you forget it even happened just 5 or 10 minutes after.

Same bars tonight - let's hope there's not as many idiots out tonight.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Week in review part 2

Next was this shift just gone, at one of the venues which is a quieter bar. It has a smaller capacity, thus fewer guards. It also has an exceptionally lazy door policy, considering the area it's in. Here, 'knowing' door security is even more liberally interpreted!

Towards the end of the evening, I was stood in the beer garden when a guy, clearly intoxicated, jumped up on the ledge behind me and started shouting for his mate. I asked him to get down, give me a description of his mate and I'd go find him - wouldn't require much effort on my part and I wouldn't have to leave the fixie. He seemed to ignore me and kept on shouting. A colleague rounded the corner, approached the guy and asked him to get down. The guy got down, then squared up to my colleague, who pushed him back and advised him to stay back.

Sensing imminent trouble, I radioed for backup, opened the door to the rear of the garden, behind the venue, and joined my colleague. He again shoved the guy back with the complementary verbal instruction, and the male squared up to him again. Another shove, and this time the male swung at my colleague. I charged the male from the side into the wall, whilst my colleague grabbed him from the front. Struggling. Grappling. Yelling. Knee strikes to his side. Eventually we get him down. An old school security officer attends from front door, shoves my colleague back inside the venue and tries to calm the male down, after standing him up. The male calms down slightly but is still clearly aggressive. The police, summonsed by management whilst this was happening, are cancelled, as my colleague did not wish to press charges and the male no longer presented an immediate threat, although I disagreed with this.

Sure enough, a few minutes later, he's back, jumping up onto the ledge again and ignoring requests to get down. The mate he's after finally appears, with another mate, and I motion them out the venue to speak to the male. My colleague comes past on his rounds, the guy spots him and tries to charge him. My colleague retreats, the police are called again and the door supervisor tries to fob the job off. We all retreat inside the venue, and for some reason the two friends of the aggressive male are let back in, when they should have been advised to stay with the aggressive male, calm him down and get him home. Or, at the very least, kicked out with the aggressive male to send the message that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated and that we will take decisive action to ensure such undesirables are no longer welcome.

Sure enough, a couple of minutes later, aggressive male reappears out the front, wanting his mates again. He tries to enter the venue and is held back by another security officer. Now aggressive male starts to square up to him. I seriously consider knocking him unconscious and turning him over to police, when two patrol officers arrive just at that moment. They take the male down a street, and much to my dismay he is not arrested. Instead, his details are taken and he is released. The two officers wait a short while, then follow the male, who goes to another venue to try and get in!

The whole thing was handled badly. For a start, my colleague should have pressed charges for the threats and behaviour of this male towards him. Failing that, the police should not have been cancelled the first time around and he should have been arrested as soon as the police arrived, as it was clear he was a continuing threat, was aggressive and physically violent and wouldn't be going anywhere anytime soon whilst his mates were still inside. Finally, the door supervisor should not have let the aggressivemale's two friends back in the venue - it only caused an incentive for aggressive male to keep hanging around.

Upshot of it all - the next security officer to deal with this male has been set up, since both supervision and the police did not take decisive action against the male, he'll have it in (what passes for) his mind that he can do it again to someone else and pretty much get away with it!

Week in review - favouritism and 'connections', mixed with bouncer's fear of confrontation

This week has been really rather frustrating, for several reasons. Frustration mixed with exasparation, channeled towards venues, management and colleagues! A caveat: I work several different venues each week, the names and locations of which shall remain anonymous.

First off, on Wednesday night, and underager we dealt with ended up in hospital. Yes, you heard right. An underager. How he got in to the venue in the first place epitomises one of the major flaws of this industry - connections.

You see, you will be hard pressed to find a single venue, or security officer for that matter, who will not offer favouritism and perks to people they 'know'. This usually extends to queue jumping or waiving the entry fee at one end, to automatically siding with them in an incident on the other end. In the former case, the vast majority of patrons are ok with this practice - most likely because most if not all have been on the receiving end of this favouritism in the past. If you're on a night out and you know someone is working at a venue who can get you in, you'll naturally be inclcined to take advantage of this.

From a security officer's point of view, we don't usually question or object to this practice occurring if one of our colleagues is getting people through our door. It's an unwritten rule and time-honoured tradition that we turn a blind eye to this, as our colleagues will do the same for us should we ever bestow such priveliges upon our own people that we 'know.' Valid objections are when we know the person is barred, the place is over capacity and police are nearby, or potentially disapproving managers are watching.

It is also accepted that the security officer getting the people in is 'vouching' for the integrity, character and state of sobriety of the people they are doing this for. In other words, they won't get us in the shit later on. Unfortunately, this is where the first few problems start to arise.

'Knowing' people can be interpreted very widely indeed. We may 'know' people as friends or family or we may 'know' people as acquaintances, with whom we are not that close but would still help out in this way. Commonly, we 'know' people through reputation - gangsters; bikies; infamous people, that sort of thing. After working in the industry for a while, these faces pop up regularly at various venues, and you know to let them in. No clear justification is given, you just 'know' to let these guys in, no questions asked. I tried asking why at first, and was told 'that's how the industry works - it's who you know against who you don't know'. It's another unwritten rule that trouble for the venue, and trouble for the security officer personally, may arise should we refuse to show favour to these people.

Then, on the other end, we may 'know' people purely in the capacity that they had a quick friendly chat with a security officer they'd previously never met in their life last time they were here, and now drop the security officer's name at every given opportunity, sincerely believing that they can now be 'sorted' at the venue for entry, waiving cover charges etc., when the reality is most people, including the security officer concerned, barely 'know' this person at all. Finally, and worst of all, is the 'knowing' people in the capacity that, as they're in the group that contain the friends of the security officer, they're 'all right' by association, when in reality the security officer probably has no freaking idea who these people are.

That's how this underager got in - he was with a group of people the security officer 'knew', and thus became 'known' by association. In short - the security officer screwed up, either unwittingly or recklessly, by either knowing (if recklessly) that the underager was in the group, or assuming (if unwittingly) that all people in the group were of age, and that his mates weren't screwing him around. Either way, the guy shouldn't and wouldn't have got in via normal channels (eg the front door and ID checks), and this whole mess wouldn't have happened.

As per usual, the underager got into a fight - newly found testosterone combined with alcohol, and an inabiltiy to handle it, usually results in this. We calmed down the other guys involved and got rid of them, but this underager (who certainly didn't look it and was quite heavily built) continued to arc up, eventually striking a security officer in the head. He was duly restrained, requiring several of us and a fair degree of force, as the resistance coming from this guy was constant and violent.

Fancy armlocks and restraint moves that look nice in a training environment don't work in reality, when the people concerned are thrashing about, are intoxicated and have a higher level of pain tolerance, or are on drugs and are simply off the planet. The fact is that many people are restrained by overpowering them through numbers and force. It's messy and it doesn't look nice, and if there isn't good communication between people as to who has which limb, whether the person is staying on the ground or getting up, where they're going etc. then it can become a free-for-all of grappling and struggling. As we were dragging the guy to the door, now bleeding from his continued violent resistance and our attempts to bring him under control, I tried to get an armlock on one of his arms. He had stiffened his arms and was thrashing them about, which made it difficult. As I grabbed an arm to try and apply the lock, he threw all his weight to one side to resist, with such force that I inadvertendly let go of his arm and he careened, head first, into a solid wooden bar. This didn't deter him, and he was throwing himself around right up until we finally got him onto the street, let go and quickly retreated. I did my rounds to help clear the venue out, and by the time I got back to the front, the guy was lying on the floor being treated by paramedics. It struck me as odd, since he was showing no signs of needing or requesting medical assistance throughout the entire time we were trying to deal with him, nor did he appear to have sustained any serious injuries, at least none that impaired his movement or ability to speak.

As of writing, nothing has come of that one so far...