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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Don’t play play

Before you think about misbehaving, look at that big fellow (aka The Bouncer) staring at you from over there.
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - January 30, 2009
By: Wong Wei Chen
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Don’t play play

Imagine a burly, tattooed dude, well over six feet tall, staring down at you, grim-faced. Doesn’t feel good, does it? But wait, what if I tell you that he was once a top contender in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), and has ever gone toe-to-toe with champions like “The Iceman” Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz?

To tell you the truth, the first thought that would come to my mind would be: Oh all right, so he got the daylights knocked out of him by Ortiz and Liddell (my favourite UFC guy!). But that aside, my hypothetical roughneck also represents a popular misconception about nightclub bouncers.

Who are they?

Bouncers are not nasty thugs like the ones in movies. Having had the opportunity to interact with a couple of them during my gym-going days, I have to say that my fellow gym rats are perfectly decent and helpful people, and there’s little reason to suppose that other bouncers are any different. Like you and me, they are people who work to make a living. And by the way, the term “bouncer” is no longer in fashion; nowadays they are known as “security officers” and their supervisors as “security managers”.

Locally, the Security Industry Regulatory Department of the Singapore Police Force requires clubs to send their bouncers for screening and training. On top of the five-day National Skills Recognition System course that they go through, some security agencies provide additional training which includes fire safety and building evacuation.

Note that nightclubs are essentially business set-ups run on the premise of profit. Nobody wants to offend and lose customers. It is therefore not surprising to hear of bouncers being sent for training on customer service and how to deal with unruly patrons.

So don’t think of them as big guys who don black shirts and wear sunglasses in the dark. Instead, see them as well-trained security professionals with a service-oriented mindset.

Let’s move on to what these people do.

Keepers of the peace

The primary duty of a bouncer is to ensure that customers do not go beyond the threshold of acceptable behaviour. His goal is to see that everyone has a good time, within established limits. Well-trained bouncers, ironically, don’t bounce people. They are firm yet personable, and can talk to patrons without appearing intimidating. This puts paid to the notion that bouncers have to look and sound like formidable ruffians.

Patron ejection

At nightspots, people drink – and changes in behaviour are expected after one drink too many. Some, like me, feel elated yet sleepy; but there are others who feel that the world owes them one, or may be tempted to get over-friendly with the ladies.

When patrons interfere with other patrons’ enjoyment of the club, it is the duty of the bouncer to step in to control situations which may range from emotional outbursts to molest or fighting. At this juncture, the bouncer’s training comes into play.

Flouting club rules and behaving badly are not criminal offences. But punching or kicking a patron is, and will certainly get the club into trouble with the law. Thus, unless they are acting in self-defence, bouncers cannot take the easy way out by manhandling recalcitrant patrons. They have to employ a neat balance of firm verbal commands and minimal force to lead the customer out of the premises. And this is no mean feat, given that the bloke is probably inebriated and aggressive.

Give them a break!

So, after reading about the training that bouncers go through and what they have to put up with, I hope this article changes your impression of them!

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