Unsafe Space

The Gair Rhydd Column: Big, bad bouncers

With great power comes great responsibility, so why can't they just be nicer?

There are few jobs in the world that I can think of that would be more shit than being a bouncer. With a job description that surely must be along the lines of ‘stand in the blistering cold in the early hours of the morning and piss off drunk people’, it would probably never be my profession of choice and not just because I’m 5’5 and start crying when people bump into me in a club.

It’s testing work, because so much of the job automatically associates you with being a dick, and so many club bouncers are just that. I do understand that there will be shitty people in whatever profession you look at. That said, if you’re a train driver, or a librarian, or a footballer and you’re a bit of a jerk, then so be that, but those in a position of responsibility, like security personnel, who have a duty to safeguard and protect cannot be racist, sexist, rude, nasty people, and unfortunately so many of them are.

It is a tough job, there is no taking away from that. It is dangerous, and I’m not a betting woman but I’d put money on getting spat at, verbally insulted and criticised by irritating columnists who have never worked a security shift in their life is probably incredibly frustrating and annoying. They do need to be credited for having the patience to deal with incredibly intoxicated morons who just want to start fights and cause trouble, and we all know there is quite literally nothing in the world worse than being around drunk people when you’re sober. They perhaps don’t get appreciated enough for the carnage that they prevent, however, as beautifully articulated by Uncle Ben from Spider-Man, with great power comes great responsibility, and by this I mean that they should stop being such arseholes.

The way I look at it, they have similar responsibilities to police officers. Their job is to keep people safe. So why is brutal, sexist or violent behaviour almost expected from them, whilst if a police officer had hoisted an intoxicated woman over his shoulder and told her “this is why we don’t let slags in” (this genuinely happened to a friend) there would be pandemonium. I’ve also had a bouncer threaten to kick me out of a club if I didn’t give him my phone number, had another one call me a bitch when I asked him to take his hand of my arse, and had another tell me I couldn’t go into the club unless I hoist my skirt a little higher. Hurrah for feminism.

We’ve all been there. You spend twelve hours getting ready, carefully negotiating the correct dinner so you don’t bloat, having six showers to get your fake tan to an acceptable shade of marmalade, taking out a mortgage to get a taxi and queuing for fifty miles to get to the door of Glam. Only then to be turned away because you supposedly have had one too many glasses of Echo Falls, despite having walked the length of the Nile in conditions similar to the Antarctic and having already stopped twice to get fried chicken and a sausage.

Their job is important, massively important, but when did that become an excuse for acting inappropriately, or rudely, or nastily. Only last weekend my friends and I were turned away from one particular night out in Cardiff (begins with F and rhymes with ducks) for absolutely no reason other than the bouncer took a dislike to one of us. In fact, when I asked another member of staff why it was we were being denied entry, he pointed towards my friend and said “it’s because he just has one of those faces”. Brilliant. As it turns out, there is very little you can do if you have ‘one of those’ particular faces, as facial reconstruction surgery costs almost as much as it does to get into Glam on a Saturday night.

This is why, now hear me out, I am not opposed to the introduction of breathalysing in certain nightclubs. Having a piece of equipment that can decipher between someone who is genuinely heavily intoxicated and someone who just has ‘one of those faces’ could actually be incredibly useful. This would mean that upon entrance to a club, when I stumble up the stairs and fall arse over elbow, after being breathalysed I can prove that this is simply down to the fact I cannot walk in the heels I’m wearing, rather than because I’m paralytic drunk. It saves the bouncers having to argue with a very angry woman in painful shoes about to what extent reciting the times tables is an accurate way of measuring blood alcohol content. (I maintain it’s a very good way).

Surely it would make their job easier too, rather than having to argue with a squabble of drunk and angry teenagers about how many pints is too many and whether their definition of ‘too drunk’ is universal and accurate, the breathalyser can give a simple statistic and save the rumpus. Of course there will be the odd few that will dispute and insist that the breathalyser is wrong, like on Jeremy Kyle when they insist that the lie detector is mistaken after they’ve been caught lying, but it would sure as hell eliminate the frustration of being rejected when you’re genuinely sober and are asked to leave because you’re ‘clearly absolutely wasted’, when in actual fact you’re just a really terrible, uncoordinated dancer.

Obviously, the level of blood alcohol content that was accepted would have to vary depending on how drunk you have to be to enjoy each particular club. For example, Walkabout on a game day would have a lower level, as you don’t need to be heavily intoxicated to enjoy that, whilst if you find yourself in Live Lounge at nine o’clock on a Friday night it must be accepted that the levels accepted will be at least quadrupled as you have to be at least sixteen VK’s in before you can accept the snogging 40-somethings and the girls that get on stage.

Ultimately, I suppose the best way to avoid bad bouncers is to try and avoid being bad drinkers. Usually, if you are polite and (pretending to be) sober and you have your ID prepared, it will be fine. Unfortunately however, if you have ‘one of those faces’, there is very little you can do. You can either get that facial re constructive surgery, or campaign for breathalysers that allow you to be a reasonable level of intoxicated. Drunk enough perhaps to be able to order twelve VK’s without feeling guilty, but sober enough to remember all your times tables.

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