ⓘ Bouncer (doorman)


ⓘ Bouncer (doorman)

A bouncer is a type of security guard, employed at venues such as bars, nightclubs, stripclubs, casinos, hotels, billiard halls, restaurants, sporting events, or concerts. A bouncers duties are to provide security, to check legal age and drinking age, to refuse entry for intoxicated persons, and to deal with aggressive behavior or non-compliance with statutory or establishment rules. They are civilians and they are often hired directly by the venue, rather than by a security firm. Bouncers are often required where crowd size, clientele or alcohol consumption may make arguments or fights a possibility, or where the threat or presence of criminal gang activity or violence is high.

In the United States, civil liability and court costs related to the use of force by bouncers are "the highest preventable loss found within the industry", as many United States bouncers are often taken to court and other countries have similar problems of excessive force. In many countries, federal or state governments have taken steps to professionalise the industry by requiring bouncers to have training, licensing, and a criminal records background check.


1. Terminology

Other terms include "cooler" in the US and UK and "door supervisor" in the UK. In a US bar, the "cooler" is the head of a team of bouncers. In the UK, the terms "floor man", "floor person" or "cooler" may all be used for the bouncer role. The "cooler" is expected to have the same ability to respond to physical situations as the rest of the bouncers, but should also have reliable interpersonal skills that can be used to de-escalate situations without violence.


2. History

In the 1990s and 2000s, increased awareness of the risks of lawsuits and criminal charges have led many bars and venues to train their bouncers to use communication and conflict resolution skills before, or rather than, resorting to brute force against troublemakers. However, the earlier history of the occupation suggests that the stereotype of bouncers as rough, tough, physical enforcers has indeed been the case in many countries and cultures throughout history. Historical references also suggest that the doorman function of guarding a place and selecting who can have entry to it the stereotypical task of the modern bouncer could at times be an honorific and evolve into a relatively important position.


2.1. History Ancient times

The significance of the doorman as the person allowing or barring entry is found in a number of Mesopotamian myths and later in Greek myths descended from them, including that of Nergal overcoming the seven doormen guarding the gates to the Underworld.

In 1 Chronicles 26 of the Old Testament, the Levitical Temple is described as having a number of gatekeepers - amongst their duties are "protect businesses" by operating protection rackets, in which they offer to sell "protection" to club owners, telling them "youre going to pay us, or else" the club owners venue may be damaged.


3.1. Research and sociology Outside studies

In the early 1990s, an Australian government study on violence stated that violent incidents in public drinking locations are caused by the interaction of five factors: aggressive and unreasonable bouncers, groups of male strangers, low comfort, high boredom, and high drunkenness. The research indicated that bouncers did not play as large a role ". as expected in the creation of an aggressive or violence prone atmosphere." However, the study did show that ".edgy and aggressive bouncers, especially when they are arbitrary or petty in their manner, do have an adverse effect." The study stated that bouncers:

.have been observed to initiate fights or further encourage them on several occasions. Many seem poorly trained, obsessed with their own machismo, and relate badly to groups of male strangers. Some of them appear to regard their employment as giving them a licence to assault people. This may be encouraged by management adherence to a repressive model of supervision of patrons "if they play up, thump em", which in fact does not reduce trouble, and exacerbates an already hostile and aggressive situation. In practice many bouncers are not well managed in their work, and appear to be given a job autonomy and discretion that they cannot handle well.

A 1998 article "Responses by Security Staff to Aggressive Incidents in Public Settings" in the Journal of Drug Issues examined 182 violent incidents involving crowd controllers bouncers that occurred in bars in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The study indicated that in 12% of the incidents the bouncers had good responses, in 20% of the incidents, the bouncers had a neutral response; and in 36% of the incidents, the bouncers ". responses were rated as bad - that is, the crowd controllers enhanced the likelihood of violence but were themselves not violent." Finally, ". in almost one-third of incidents, 31 per cent, the crowd controllers responses were rated as ugly. The controllers actions involved gratuitous aggression, harassment of patrons and provocative behaviour."


3.2. Research and sociology Inside studies

At least one major ethnographic study also observed bouncing from within, as part of a British project to study violent subcultures. Beyond studying the bouncer culture from the outside, the group selected a suitable candidate for covert, long-term research. The man had previously worked as a bouncer before becoming an academic, and while conversant with the milieu, it required some time for him to re-enter bouncing work in a new locality. The study has, however, attracted some criticism due to the fact that the researcher, while fulfilling his duties as a bouncer and being required to set aside his academic distance, would have been at risk of losing objectivity - though it was accepted that this quandary might be difficult to resolve.

One of the main ethical issues of the research was the participation of the researcher in violence, and to what degree he would be allowed to participate. The group could not fully resolve this issue, as the undercover researcher would not have been able to gain the trust of his peers while shying away from the use of force. As part of the study it eventually became clear that bouncers themselves were similarly and constantly weighing up the limits and uses of their participation in violence. The research however found that instead of being a part of the occupation, violence itself was the defining characteristic, a "culture created around violence and violent expectation".

The bouncing cultures insular attitudes also extended to the recruitment process, which was mainly by word of mouth as opposed to typical job recruitment, and also depended heavily on previous familiarity with violence. This does not extend to the prospective bouncer himself having to have a reputation for violence - rather a perception was needed that he could deal with it if required. Various other elements, such as body language or physical looks muscles, shaved heads were also described as often expected for entry into bouncing - being part of the symbolic narratives of intimidation that set bouncers apart in their work environment.

Training on the job was described as very limited, with the new bouncers being thrown into the deep end - the fact that they had been accepted for the job in the first place including the assessment that they should know what they are doing though informal observation of a beginners behaviour was commonplace. In the case of the British research project, the legally required licensing as a bouncer was also found to be expected by employers before applicants started the job and as licensing generally excluded people with criminal convictions, this kept out some of the more unstable violent personalities.


4. Roles

Bouncers monitor a club or venue to "detect, report and correct any condition inside/outside the club" which could lead to injuries of patrons or staff or to damage of the club or its equipment. A key role for bouncers is communicating information within a club to the venue employees who need to know. Bouncers answer questions about club policies and procedures while controlling crowds. Bouncers lead "injury and emergency procedures" if a patron is injured and requires first aid. In a large nightclub, the bouncers may be part of a security team that includes friskers who check for weapons and drugs, surveillance staff, a doorman, and floor men, with all of these security staff reporting to a chief of security, who in turn, reports to the general manager.


4.1. Roles Character and personality

Although a common stereotype of bouncers is that of the thuggish brute, a good club security staff member requires more than just physical qualities such as strength and size: "The best bouncers don’t "bounce" anyone. they talk to people" and remind them of the venue rules. Lee Vineyard states that the "tough guy" mentality and look of some bouncers, in which they have their sleeves rolled up to show off their biceps and they have their arms crossed, can actually create more potential for fights than a bouncer who greets patrons with a "hello", and is thus approachable.

An ability to judge and communicate well with people will reduce the need for physical intervention, while a steady personality will prevent the bouncer from being easily provoked by customers. Bouncers need to be able to detect the early warning signs of a potential confrontation with a patron, by observing crowds and individuals and spotting the signs of a "heated" interaction that could become a fight

Bouncers also profit from good written communication skills, because they are often required to document assaults in an incident log or using an incident form. Well-kept incident logs can protect the employee from any potential criminal charges or lawsuits that later arise from an incident. Bouncers need to be polite when answering questions or controlling crowds. In larger clubs, bouncers need to be able to work with a team of bouncers, which may require the use of radios to stay in contact and communicate particularly between the inside and outside of a club. In bouncer teams, the bouncers must be aware of the location of the other bouncers, and ensure that when one bouncer relocates e.g., to go to the bathroom, a gap is not left in the venue security.

However, British research from the 1990s also indicates that a major part of both the group identity and the job satisfaction of bouncers is related to their self image as a strongly masculine person who is capable of dealing with – and dealing out – violence; their employment income plays a lesser role in their job satisfaction. Bouncer subculture is strongly influenced by perceptions of honour and shame, a typical characteristic of groups that are in the public eye, as well as warrior cultures in general. Factors in enjoying work as a bouncer were also found in the general prestige and respect that was accorded to bouncers, sometimes bordering on hero worship. The camaraderie between bouncers even of different clubs, as well as the ability to work "in the moment" and outside of the drudgery of typical jobs were also often cited.

The same research has also indicated that the decisions made by bouncers, while seeming haphazard to an outsider, often have a basis in rational logic. The decision to turn certain customers away at the door because of too casual clothing face control is for example often based on the perception that the person will be more willing to fight compared to someone dressed in expensive attire. Many similar decisions taken by a bouncer during the course of a night are also being described as based on experience rather than just personality.


4.2. Roles Use of force

Movies often depict bouncers physically throwing patrons out of clubs and restraining drunk customers with headlocks, which has led to a popular misconception that bouncers have or reserve the right to use physical force freely. However, in many countries bouncers have no legal authority to use physical force more freely than any other civilian - meaning they are restricted to reasonable levels of force used in self defense, to eject drunk or aggressive patrons refusing to leave a venue, or when restraining a patron who has committed an offence until police arrive. Lawsuits are possible if injuries occur, even if the patron was drunk or using aggressive language.

With civil liability and court costs related to the use of force as "the highest preventable loss found within the industry." US and bars being "sued more often for using unnecessary or excessive force than for any other reason" Canada, substantial costs may be incurred by indiscriminate violence against patrons - though this depends heavily on the laws and customs of the country. In Australia, the number of complaints and lawsuits against venues due to the behaviour of their bouncers has been credited with turning many establishments to using former police officers to head their in-house security, instead of hiring private firms. In 2007, a bouncer firm in Toronto stated that a major issue for his bouncers is the risk of being charged with assault if a patron is injured because bouncers are dealing with a fight. The concerns about being charged by police may make bouncers reticent to call the police after they break up a bar fight. Lee Vineyard states that judges tend to be prejudiced against bouncers if there are injuries to patrons after bouncers break up a bar fight; as such, he recommends restraint in all bouncer actions, even if the bouncer is defending him or herself from a patron.

According to statistical research in Canada, bouncers are as likely to face physical violence in their work as urban-area police officers. The research also found that the likelihood of such encounters increased with statistical significance with the number of years the bouncer had worked in his occupation. Despite popular misconceptions, bouncers in Western countries are normally unarmed. Some bouncers may carry weapons such as expandable batons for personal protection, but they may not have a legal right to carry a weapon even if they would prefer to do so. An article from 2007 about bouncers in Toronto Canada stated that a major security firm instructs its bouncers to buy bulletproof vests, as they have to deal with armed patrons on a nightly basis. Bouncers also face patrons armed with brass knuckles, screwdrivers, and improvised weapons such as broken bottles.

Lee Vineyard recommends that bouncers be provided with uniforms by the club, so that patrons can identify the bouncers. During a fight in a bar, if the bouncers are un-uniformed as they approach the altercation, the fighting patrons may believe that the bouncers who are intervening are other fighting patrons, rather than security staff.


4.3. Roles Other approaches

Use of force training programs teach bouncers ways to avoid using force and explain what types of force are considered allowable by the courts. Some bars have gone so far as to institute policies barring physical contact, where bouncers are instructed to ask a drunk or disorderly patron to leave - if the patron refuses, the bouncers call police. However, if the police are called too frequently, it can reflect badly on the venue upon renewal of its liquor licence.

Another strategy used in some bars is to hire smaller, less threatening or female bouncers, because they may be better able to defuse conflicts than large, intimidating bouncers. The more impressive bouncers, in the often tense environments they are supposed to supervise, are also often challenged by aggressive males wanting to prove their machismo. Large and intimidating bouncers, whilst providing an appearance of strong security, may also drive customers away in cases where a more relaxed environment is desired. In addition, female security staff, apart from having fewer problems searching female patrons for drugs or weapons and entering womens washrooms to check for illegal activities, are also considered as better able to deal with drunk or aggressive women.

In Australia, for example, women comprise almost 20% of the security industry and increasingly work the door as well, using "a smile, chat and a friendly but firm demeanor" to resolve tense situations. Nearly one in nine of Britains nightclub bouncers are also women, with the UKs 2003 Licensing Act giving the authorities "discretionary power to withhold a venues licence if it does not employ female door staff". This is credited with having "opened the door for women to enter the profession". However, female bouncers are still a rarity in many countries, such as in India, where two women who became media celebrities in 2008 for being "Punjabs first female bouncers" were soon sacked again after accusations of unbecoming behaviour.

The Victoria Event Center has hired a sexual health educator/intimacy coach who acts as a type of bouncer called a "consent captain". The consent captain monitors bar patrons to stop sexual harassment and sexual assault at social activities at venues and bars. The consent captain intervenes if she sees people who are getting stared at, harassed, or touched without sexual consent. She talks to the person who is feeling uncomfortable and then, if the first person agrees, speaks to the individual whose conduct is unwanted. Like a regular bouncer, the consent captain warns the person engaging in unwanted behavior that those acts are not tolerated in the venue; if the unwanted acts continue, she may "eventually ask them to leave". The consent captain also checks on people who are intoxicated, to prevent people from taking advantage of their impaired state. Since the consent captain is, in this case, a sexual health educator, she is better able to notice risk situations regarding consent and harassment that regular bouncers might not notice.


5. Regulation and training

In many countries, a bouncer must be licensed and lacking a criminal record to gain employment within the security/crowd control sector. In some countries or regions, bouncers may be required to have extra skills or special licenses and certification for first aid, alcohol distribution, crowd control, or fire safety.


5.1. Regulation and training Canada

In Canada, bouncers have the right to use reasonable force to expel intoxicated or aggressive patrons. First, the patron must be asked to leave the premises. If the patron refuses to leave, the bouncer can use reasonable force to expel the patron. This guideline has been upheld in a number of court cases. Under the definition of reasonable force, "it is perfectly acceptable. Bars can be held liable for ejecting a customer who they know, or should know, is at risk of injury by being ejected."

In Ontario, bartenders and servers must complete the Smart Serve Training Program, which teaches them to recognise the signs of intoxication. The Smart Serve program is also recommended for other staff in bars who have contact with potentially intoxicated patrons, such as bouncers, coat check staff, and valets. The Smart Serve certification program encourages bars to keep Incident Reporting Logs, to use as evidence if an incident goes to court. With the August 2007 Private Security and Investigative Services Act, Ontario law also requires security industry workers, including bouncers, to be licensed.


5.2. Regulation and training Germany

In Germany, doormen may – like any other citizen – defend themselves in self-defense situations using physical force, but they must not interfere with the police work. Their responsibility is limited locally by the property boundaries and content by the personal rights of the guests. Specifically, this means that they can not enforce a person control or search for people. Such on-the-spot checks are always voluntary, but a criterion for entry. Bouncers own like every other the right to detain under § 127 StPO. In addition, the guards are usually also "possessor" of the security object, which led to lots of racism related issues regarding the entry of foreign customers.

However, bouncers at discotheques, who work for a security company or are self-employed, have to take a so-called German: Sachkundeprufung, lit. Expert examination with the responsible Chamber of Commerce and Industry. This is prescribed in § 34 a of the Industrial Code. The certificate issued by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce after passing the exam is colloquially called "bouncer certificate" or simply "certificate" or "34 a". The exam consists of a written part with multiple-choice questions and an oral part. The latter can be repeated at a reduced price if it does not exist. Currently, the number of retry attempts is not limited. The costs for the examination depending on IHK location between 150 and 190 euros.


5.3. Regulation and training Italy

In Italy, the law defines bouncers as "security subsidiary unarmed operator" and they must have specific requisites:

  • have not been convicted for any intentional crimes
  • no alcohol or drugs in preventive clinical analysis
  • at least 18 years of age
  • at least lower high school diploma
  • follow a training course
  • mental and physical suitability

Bouncers must not have ownership of any type of firearm during their service even if they have a valid firearms license.


5.4. Regulation and training New Zealand

In New Zealand, as of 2011, bouncers are required to have a COA Certificate of approval. Like other security work, the person who has the COA has been vetted by the police and cleared through security checks, as well as the courts, to show the person is suitable for the job, and knows New Zealand law to prevent Security Officers going to court for using excessive force and assault on patrons.


5.5. Regulation and training Singapore

Singapore requires all bouncers to undergo a background check and attend a 5-day National Skills Recognition System course for security staff. However, many of the more professional security companies and larger venues with their own dedicated security staff have noted that the course is insufficient for the specific requirements of a bouncer and provide their own additional training.


5.6. Regulation and training Sweden

In Sweden, there are special security officers referred to as Ordningsvakt with limited policing duties who share the use of force monopoly with the police, thus having more or less the same obligations as the police to report crime and intervene when on duty. They are trained and ordained by the Swedish Police Authority to maintain and enforce public order at venues or areas where the police cannot permanently divert resources to enforce public order themselves. These security officers have powers of citizens arrest and to verbally dismiss, physically remove, or detain those who disturb or pose an immediate threat to public order or safety, by using a reasonable amount of force. They can also detain or otherwise take into custody those who are drunk and disorderly and turn them over to police custody as soon as possible. An Ordningsvakt is recruited by the police and must go through a battery of physical tests, a language test, and an interview board before going through a two-week training program which teaches behaviour, conflict management, criminal law, physical intervention, the use of telescopic batons and handcuffs, first aid, equal opportunities and discrimination, and arrest procedures. He or she must then be re-certified every three years. At the end of each shift, a written shift report must always be submitted to the police.

An Ordningsvakt is either employed by a private security company, such as Securitas or G4S, where they commonly work at shopping malls, hospitals, public transportation, or as privateers employed by bar or nightclub owners. But despite employment, their first and foremost loyalty lies with the police, who manage and supervise them in the field. They can also be used to augment the police at football matches and high-risk football derbies after receiving special training. An Ordningsvakt is required to wear a special uniform, which is similar to that of a police officer, but made out of a brighter blue colour and with slightly different emblems so they are easily identified as an Ordningsvakt but also make their connection to the police as obvious as possible. Some security officers are allowed to carry firearms, but this is rare. While on duty, an Ordningsvakt, just like a police officer, is regarded as a public servant, and an assault or threats against one will be punished more harshly. A lawful order given by an Ordningsvakt must be obeyed; otherwise, physical force may be used to enforce that order. Resisting at this point is illegal and punishable by prison.


5.7. Regulation and training United Kingdom

In the UK, "door supervisors" - as they are termed - must hold a licence from the Security Industry Authority. The training for a door supervisor licence takes 32.5 hours since the current changes were implemented on 1 January 2015, and includes issues such as behaviour, conflict management, civil and criminal law, search and arrest procedures, drug awareness, recording of incidents and crime scene preservation, licensing law, equal opportunities and discrimination, health and safety at work, physical intervention, and emergency procedures. Licenses must be renewed every three years. One current provider of training is the British Institute of Innkeeping Awarding Body.

Licensed door supervisors must wear a blue plastic licence often worn on the upper arm whilst on duty. This led to the common misconception that door supervisors are legally obliged to show their ID to members of the public upon request; in reality they only have to present it to police and licensing authorities in order to protect their identities from aggressive clients. The 2010 UK quango reforms includes the SIA amongst many other Quangos the coalition government intended to be disbanded, ostensibly on the overall grounds of cost, despite the SIA being essentially self-funding via licence payments. Whilst this may alleviate to some extent the financial burden on employers and individuals alike, some members of the industry sees this as a retrograde step, fearing a return of the organised criminal element to the currently regulated industry.


5.8. Regulation and training United States

Requirements for bouncers vary from state to state, with some examples being:


5.9. Regulation and training California

In California, Senate Bill 194 requires any bouncer or security guard to be registered with the State of California Department of Consumer Affairs Bureau of Security and Investigative Services. These guards must also complete a criminal background check, including submitting their fingerprints to the California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Californians must undertake the "Skills Training Course for Security Guards" before receiving a security licence. Further courses allow for qualified security personnel to carry batons upon completion of training. Exempted from the Act are peace officers in specified circumstances and guards employed exclusively and regularly by any employer who does not provide contract security services known as proprietary guards, provided they do not carry or use any deadly weapon in the performance of their duties.


5.10. Regulation and training New York

In New York State, it is illegal for a bar owner to knowingly hire a felon for a bouncer position. Under Article 7 General Business Law, bars and nightclubs are not allowed to hire bouncers without a proper license. Under New York state law only a Private Investigator or watch, guard and patrol agency can supply security guards/bouncers to bars.


6. Notable bouncers

The list of notable bouncers includes celebrities and historical figures who worked as bouncers, often before coming to fame in another field or profession. A number of these bouncers were wrestlers. Some, including Bautista, are also actors. Pope Francis claims to have worked as a nightclub bouncer in Buenos Aires while a university student.


7. In animals

Some types of ant species have evolved a sub-specialisation that has been called a "bouncer", and performs a similar function throwing intruders outside for its fellows. The majors of the Australian Dacetine Orectognathus versicolor ants have massive blunt mandible jaws which are of little use to the prey-capture techniques this trap jaw species normally engages in. Instead, they spend much of their time guarding the nest opening, their jaws cocked. When foreign ants venture close, the force of the mandibles is sufficient to throw back the intruder for a significant distance, a defense behaviour which is thought to also protect the guard against physical or chemical injury that it might sustain in more direct battle.

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  • This list of notable bouncers includes celebrities and historical figures who worked as bouncers often before they became famous in another profession
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  • doing theater and independent films while working night shifts as a bouncer doorman and bartender at various New York City nightclubs. Though he initially
  • being rarely used. A crowd controller is also another name for a bouncer or doorman Crowd control barrier Crowd manipulation Decontamination foam Football
  • 1929 as Manager Big News 1929 as Officer Ryan Happy Days 1929 as Doorman uncredited The Shannons of Broadway 1929 as Burt The Big House 1930
  • television series. On 12 April 2011, Regan was charged with the murder of a doorman in Liverpool and remanded in custody to await trial. He was cleared of