Ask the (former) Bouncer

Perusing the “ask me” thread lists, I did not see any bouncers, so here it is - ask away!

I worked door and floor at multiple dance clubs, bars, and “gentleman’s clubs” in several different cities during the course of my education.

  1. What was the most memorable experience of your"bouncing" career??

2 .How tall are you?

  1. Tough question- there are a lot of violent episodes that were very unpleasant, and thus hard to forget, but the best happy memory is definitely the time I escorted Hulk Hogan out of a club (He was leaving voluntarily and I was basically clearing a path for him, but I got to tell everyone I had taken Hulk Hogan out of a club).

  2. 6’5’’

  1. How do strip clubs, bars and dance clubs differ when it comes to being a bouncer?

  2. What methods do you use to defuse situations?

  3. How did you quickly make inferences concerning patrons’ personalities?

Are most fights result of “drinking”? Or over girls?

Can I get in? Because I know someone here.

I used to work the door at a pseudo-swanky club in the Warehouse District in downtown Austin. (I know none of the Dopers do, but anyone who knows me IRL is usually quite … :dubious: when I disclose that.) Got to know the door bouncer there pretty well - nice guy. Actually, all the bouncers seemed perfectly gentlemanly.

Unless shit got real. :wink:
Do you walk the female staff to their cars at the end of the night?

What, if any, training did you have? What about your fellow bouncers? How many actually knew how to handle sh*t and how many were selected just because they were big, intimidating guys?

Did you ever bounce anyone “famous”, such as a celeb or sports star?

  • Generally way more drama at dance clubs, with the male-female interactions, ego bruises, etc. Also, it is darker and louder, which adds to tensions and difficulty in defusing situations. Bars are usually very calm and tranquil, with the main jobs being ID checks and making regulars feel welcome. Strip clubs are more like bars, but the potential for drama is higher, what with the nudity and lowered inhibitions.

  • Keep your face neutral, arms down, nonaggressive posture. Don’t touch the customer unless the situation escalates. The absolute best approach (if you think an ejection is imminent) is to say, “Come talk to me outside where we can hear each other.”

  • The really troublesome patrons do not make it hard to foresee problems. For example, anyone who tries to get in while violating the dress code (hat, gang colors) or refuses to show ID or tries to argue about the entry fee - probably going to be a problem later. You also become pretty good at telling from body language and speech when someone is on a serious stimulant, which is a huge red flag.

  • I don’t believe I ever saw a single fight that did not involve alcohol. That being said, I think that most of the proximate causes of fights had to do with jealousy or posturing. Both men and women fight over perceived slights/disses or attempts to poach their mate. Add in alcohol and the normal inhibitions that might keep someone from reacting in a threatening or violent manner disappear. Sort of a fire and gunpowder mix.
  • any standard inside code between bouncers? Hand signals? Certain eyebrow raises or eye contact signals?

  • what do you think of the movie Roadhouse? :wink:

  • how are you normally treated by “the talent” at gentleman’s clubs? I would assume with appreciation and respect, but I don’t know any strippers…

  • Sure! Who do you know? Jerry? Yeah! Of course! Tell you what - just get him on the phone and I’m sure he’ll tell me to let you in!

Oh, you forgot your phone? Here, use mine! I’ll dial the number for you! :smiley:

(if bored)

  • No

(if busy)

  • Yes. At all the establishments. At the strip club, one of the worst parts of the night is clearing out the parking lot before any dancers leave. Really sketchy guys and really blinkered guys would hang out in the lot hoping to meet dancers after work. (Often, this idea is encouraged, or at least not discouraged, by the dancer while the patron is feeding them tips throughout the night, so many patrons are unpleasantly surprised and belligerent to hear that they are not going to be hanging out with anyone after hours.)


  • I practiced jiu-jitsu and MMA at a no-gi school during the first few years. Mostly the necessary skills are on-the-job learning. At one of my first jobs a more experienced bouncer taught me how to use the Maglite for coercion, for control and for damage/defense. Probably the most important “skill” you learn, though, is the ability to control your temper and keep from escalating situations.

There is a huge variation in quality of coworkers. A lot of bouncers get hired based on size alone. Many are doing the job for the fringe benefits of the power and alpha-status it affords them. Usually the quietest, calmest guys were the absolute scariest when it came down to actually fighting and inflicting damage. But then again, they almost never had to fight, since they were generally better at deescalating conflicts.

  • See post #3 :slight_smile:

Never actually ejected anyone famous, but “deescalated” situations between local celebrities including sports stars, radio DJs, club owners, etc.

  • At big dance clubs we had simple flashlight codes: 2 flashes meant “come here.” 3 flashes followed by a slow sweep to another area meant “problem developing there - go handle it.” 5 to 10 rapid flashes meant “Emergency! (as in, push your way through the crowd and get here NOW).” One long continuous light in your eyes meant “I am bored and decided to try to annoy you.” :slight_smile:

  • The funniest thing about Roadhouse was how all the fights were basically a series of mutually exchanged roundhouse punches to the face.

  • Again, a huge variation, based on the character of the dancer in question. Some are sweet and polite and appreciative. Others are sneaky, petty, and vindictive. Just like coworkers in any job, I suppose.

  • None for me, thanks!

D-bol and winstrol were the enhancement agents of choice for almost everyone I worked with, though…

My brother was a bouncer for a few years, then got out of the business. I’m curious if you’re worried about the health risks?

He mostly worked concerts and music clubs. On two occasions, he was exposed and splattered with blood from violent people that the crew were restraining that later tested positive for hepatitus. The testing and shot series is rather arduous, many shots over a long period while restricted from working. He eventually decided it wasn’t worth the health hassle of exposure to unknown crud and germs in people’s blood, and found a career change.