bouncers need a reality check

i’ve noticed a recent outburst of unneccessary excessive force by bouncers at dc lounges and nightclubs. over the last few months, more than once has a bouncer seem to cross the line. club managers need to realize what their staff is doing and address it appropriately. bouncers need to be trained, just as in any other trade-like profession. they have a lot of power and control, and in untrained hands, can abuse it.

i realize “bouncing” is a tough and dangerous job, but when you’re a bouncer who is usually larger and stronger in physical nature than your patrons, violence and physical action should be a last resort. i’ve seen situations where a good bouncer will calmly talk to a unruly person and either calm them down, or escort them civilly out the door.

on the other hand, i’ve seen situations where bouncers go too far. at vida lounge, the upstairs fills up and the line is usually guarded. now mind you, it’s lame location (topic for another entry), but of course people gravitate to where the illusion of a good time is. anyway, one person was on the stairs at the front of the line. he was trying to sneak by the bouncer (but doesn’t everyone?), at which point, the bouncer, brian, grabbed the person by the neck and proceeded to push him down to the ground. luckily this patron was smart enough to drop his hands to the side and not struggle. he realized he needed to de-escalate the situation — something the bouncer should have thought of first.

an even more outrageous incident happened at pearl lounge in dc. a group was escorting a somewhat drunken member of their party outside to sober him up and go home. the bouncer seemed to want to provoke the patron by beginning to drag him out the door. a fight ensued w/ fists flying and bouncers dragging people on the ground. fortunately, someone had the sense to call the dc police. the actions of bouncers were out of hand and only with police protection could the public be ensured safety. five police cars showed up to get the bouncers to back down and the police then made a sweep of the lounge to make sure things were clear.

during the altercation, neither the pearl lounge management, staff nor hosts made an attempt to alleviate the situation. they should have been the ones to either call the police or back down their own employees. i had been to pearl for many events, even back when it was murali’s, and i’m adamant in saying that is the last time i or my friends ever go there.

please feel free to share any situations you’ve experienced. i also encourage you to 1) contact the establishment’s management 2) post wide and far on washington post or aol city guide event reviews 3) get legal counsel if necessary.

4 Comments so far

  1. jim (unregistered) on February 27th, 2005 @ 1:47 pm

    Assaulting a patron except in self-defense is illegal. Even then, only reasonable force is called for. If the club has not trained their bouncers, and does not have written guidelines for them describing what measures are to be taken in the case of drunk or unruly patrons, a lawsuit against the club (in addition to the obvious one against the bouncer) is practically begging to be filed. The regulatory agency is:

    Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration

    941 North Capitol Street, NE, Suite 7200

    Washington, DC 20002 (202) 442-4423

    The MPD officer in charge of enforement of the relevant laws regarding bars and clubs is Lt. Patrick Burke. He can be reached at (202) 727-2201


  2. darpino (unregistered) on February 27th, 2005 @ 4:08 pm

    The bouncers at Heaven & Hell’s 80’s night used to be really bad. My friends and I stopped going there after they tossed my buddy down the stairs.

  3. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on February 27th, 2005 @ 5:53 pm

    And people wonder why I don’t go to clubs!

    Wondering if we should host a bouncer hall of shame?

  4. Anonymous (unregistered) on October 2nd, 2005 @ 5:16 am

    I work as a bouncer and I completely agree, especially with the comment posted by Darpino. I used to work at a bar within sight of Heaven and Hell, and I watched them use excessive force on numerous occasions, and one time watched a bouncer chase a patron down the street and proceed to beat them up. There was a similar incident at a new bar in the neighborhood, named Nolan’s, where an enraged bouncer chased a patron who had been ejected (rightfully so, as this person vandalized the premises) down the street and proceeded to physically attack this person.

    I was trained specifically to always be respectful and to only use force in self-defense. Bouncing is 95% psychological, unfortunately not too many people recognize this. I have seen bouncers fired for less than what has been described in my post and the posts above. I am a big individual, but I use my size mostly in a psychological way (make people not want to get violent for fear of the consequences) rather than just jump on an opportunity to fight.

    It is good that you all are discussing this topic. But please also respect bouncers. The work we do is difficult, and those of us that do our jobs well are the ones who adopt the philosophy that we are there to ensure the safety of everyone in the bar.

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