An Evening with the Bouncers of York

All of us have witnessed incidents of aggression or tension outside clubs. Sometimes the bouncer doesn’t want to let someone in, sometimes that person is too drunk and is yelling insults. They areDoorman rarely a pleasant sight.

The idea for this article dawned on me while I was at Fibbers in the smoking area. A bouncer started shouting at me out of the blue. I rushed inside, only torealize that I was completely alone inside a crowded Fibbers. To my horror, I knew I had to see the bouncer’s face again.

I tried to get into the smoking area again. The bouncer couldn’t restrain himself and kept shouting. I told him that there was no reason for him to be so aggressive. It was late, people had started leaving the venue and the number of incidents had minimised.

I acknowledge that their job is tough. When you look at the implications of these incidents on the students and the bouncers, however, a disparity becomes apparent. There are no consequences for the bouncers’behavior. As long as they perform their job successfully they are in the right; they protect the club. The victims of the shouting have little to no power to fight back. If a bouncer has decided not to let you in or that you’re too drunk, anything you say in your defence is used against you.

As violent as bouncers might be to us, walking a mile in their shoes puts a new spin to their responsibilities. They’ve seen the worst that nightlife has to offer; clubbers being rushed to hospitals, fights breaking out for no reason. What to us seems inconsequential, to them is a memory of something bad transpiring in front of their eyes. They’ve seen the worst, and they’re afraid of it.

Indeed, they hold over us a significant amount of power. If they do not let you into the club, your night is ruined and all the pre-drinks and the expectations of a fun night out are thrown out of the window. They are the living embodiment of how much we value clubbing. Their refusal to let us in is nothing to them, but means a lot to us. The problem is that they violate their power.

During my first year, a bouncer threatened my friend. He said he would call the police because she showed him a passport, while she was not 18. He accused her of forgery and threatened that her passport would be confiscated. My friend never denied that she was still 17, nor did she show fake documentation. As I found out, bouncers are allowed to call the police only in a matter of emergency and during students nights their first contact should be YUSU.

These bouncers interact with drunken people for so many hours. They have seen how people react when they are not in their right mind. They become more aggressive, they might start shouting and crying for no reason. The logical explanation is to hate and fear inebriated people. Because of fear, the bouncers’ first reaction is to protect themselves and the people around them, which is why they implement a single policy to every incident.

The implications are that they overstep their power, by dragging people like animals and leaving them with bruises. A friend of mine was punched in the face by a bouncer. Violence in any circumstances should be the last resort. Numerous times the bouncers remind me of the gorillas of Golden Dawn in my country.

My close friends told me that I couldn’t write an article on the bouncers since I have never spoken to a bouncer. They were right and for that reason, I interviewed the bouncers. I could have integrated their answers into my text, but I chose not to, because any hope for objectivity would be lost.

I display the interviews with the exact questions and answers so you can draw your own conclusions. I do not reveal any names or venues, because their words at the same time represent the venue and I do not want to negatively implicate anyone. For your information, after these interviews, I must say I despise them less.


Club 1

Have you faced any difficulties?

Yes, all the time, drunk and aggressive people.

To what extent are you liable for drunken people?

It depends. On university nights, students look after students. During normal nights there are ‘street angels’ that look after people by keeping them warm. If there is an emergency, we do call either the police or an ambulance.

There are allegations that the bouncers here are particularly aggressive. Could you describe an incident?

Last Saturday, a group of males were fighting and punching each other. We restrained them and carried them outside.

Do you enjoy your job?

Yes, I enjoy it, but I also have another job.


Club 2

Have you faced any difficulties?

Yes, dealing with drunks.

To what extent are you liable for drunken people?

Until they are safe with friends, a taxi, or an authority.

There are allegations that the bouncers here are particularly aggressive. Could you describe an incident?

During nights out, the bouncers are very busy. There are thousands of people. If you have to take care of a young girl, you need to get rid of people around you as soon as possible. The bouncers do not always have time.

Do you enjoy your job?

Sometimes.


Club 3

Have you faced any difficulties?

My job is challenging, not difficult.

To what extent are you liable for drunken people?

There are many schemes in place to look after vulnerable people.

There are allegations that the bouncers here are particularly aggressive. Could you describe an incident?

Drunk students passing out in the toilets and then having the rest of the night to look after them. Drunkpeople throwing up everywhere. We always use reasonable force. We never use agression. We always try to calm down the situation.

Do you enjoy your job?

The hours are difficult but yes.

1 Comment

  1. JK
    04 February 2015 - 00:22 BST

    During my first year, a bouncer threatened my friend. He said he would call the police because she showed him a passport, while she was not 18. He accused her of forgery and threatened that her passport would be confiscated. My friend never denied that she was still 17, nor did she show fake documentation. As I found out, bouncers are allowed to call the police only in a matter of emergency and during students nights their first contact should be YUSU.

    You say this like it’s a bad thing? He is doing his job, doesn’t need underage people trying it on which could cost the venues license. You were full in the knowledge that your friend was under 18 and still tried to get in anyway. You have no right to complain.

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