I was going to call this article “ The Lives Of The Door Security Industry” but I thought “ spare a thought for your local door supervisor “ was more in tune with how I was feeling as I wrote it. I was recently watching (for maybe the 500th time) The BAFTA award winning short film “Bouncer “starring Ray Winstone. Anyone who knows me knows how much I dislike the term Bouncer and its connotation’s but I can relate to the message in the film. The film is written by Geoff Thompson, a famous martial artist, door supervisor and writer from Coventry. Like many of my age in the industry Geoff was an idol of mine when I started on the doors and his books on the industry are legendary. At the beginning of the film the lead character (Ray Winstone) has a monologue about the life of a “Bouncer” which goes something like this. “What do you see when you look in the face of a nightclub doorman, the bouncer, a fighter, a bully, a hard man of repute? Bet you don’t see a husband, a father, a son? The monologue goes on but that one sentence always gets me thinking about the reasons why people do this job and the wide variety of people I’ve met and worked alongside over the years, each one with their own story. In this article I’d like to share some of those stories. In order to respect the privacy of real friends I’ve fictionalised the characters.
I’ve made up the names, changed minor details and merged stories of a similar type. If anybody recognises parts of themselves in any story it is either:
- Purely coincidental
- Partly based on you and written from a place of respect and friendship
Michael is 52 and has worked the doors on and off for 25 years. He gave up 5 years ago but his daughter is going to college this year and his son wants to go next year and it’s going to get expensive. So here he is standing as the Gatekeeper of a late bar watching the kids fall around the streets. He worries about his own children moving away from home next year and what they will get up to. But that’s next year. For tonight his main concern is dragging his weary 52 year old body out of bed in the morning for his full time job and hoping he can do this for another 5 years. He would love to be sitting down on his couch with a glass of beer and his wife but alas father duty beckons and this is where he must be.
Darren is 27 and has worked in the security industry for 5 years. He works as security in a shopping centre during the day and the door at the weekend. He used to love coming into work every weekend but since his son was born 9 months ago it has gotten harder and harder to come to work. His girlfriend hates being alone at night and he hates leaving her. He tells her he does that so his son will never have to and that seems to work. He loves the excitement and the atmosphere of the nightclub it’s just the leaving that’s hard. It will all be worth it when the boy grows up and goes to college.
Callum is 22 and is only here for the ladies. He has no commitments and no ties. He loves the job because he gets paid to be in a nightclub full of beautiful women. The only downside is that he has to work for it. His workmates wind him up about the amount of time he spends looking in the mirror and all the women who ask for him at the door but they are all just jealous. As far as he is concerned there is nothing wrong with taking the time to look good and if the ladies happen to appreciate it then that’s a bonus. He does his job so there’s no problem. Callum thinks he can get at least another 10 years out of this lifestyle before he has to settle down and grow up.
Micelle is 32 and has worked the door for 8 years. She has a 3 year old and a 6 year old girl. She has struggled to make end meet since her marriage broke up and needs the extra income from working here. She feels lucky to have parents that are such a great help. She would love to give up working nights eventually but for now she needs to stay. Besides if she left who would look after the guys who work here. This bunch at work look at her like a mother figure almost as much as her kids. Everything from cut fingers, torn shirts and angry girlfriends are sent her way. If she left who would they go to with their problem?
Lee is a 24-year-old semi-professional mixed martial arts fighter. He works in the industry because it suits his training schedule. He used to work in a supplement shop but when he got serious about MMA he looked at security and knew it would fit his schedule better. Now he gets to train during the day and work at night. He got into the industry thinking that his martial arts skills would get him out of any problems he found on the door but he quickly realised a lot more patience than punches, now he loves the job. Nice hours, good money, good music and entertaining customers. What’s not to like?
Pat is a retired soldier who has recently started working in the door security industry. He retired last year with a partial pension from the army and quickly realised that it wasn’t enough to live on. He has 8 more years to work before he can get a full pension. It’s not so bad though. He has a nice pub door to work on, the regulars are great and he doesn’t get much hassle. He has actually thought of going beyond the 8 years if he kept this gig, but he hasn’t quite worked out how to break the news to his wife. This job worries her but she knows why he does it. Pat likes it though and it’s always better to be earning money in the pub on a Saturday night than spending it.
Mohamed is 38, a father of four kids and works the door of the fast food takeaway. Mohamed moved here 10 years ago to make a new life for himself and now has a family. He works the door as a second job for extra income to put his kids through school and so his wife doesn’t have to go out and work. A lot of times he is tired after working both jobs but it’s worth it in the long run for his family. A lot of people speak to him like he’s stupid because he isn’t from this country but he was an accountant before he moved here and wishes he could be again. Unfortunately his qualifications aren’t recognised here. Perhaps one day when the children are grown he can afford to go back to college. For now it’s fast food and fights at 3AM.
Chris is 40 years old and has been working the doors for 23 years. He comes to work every night still feeling like his first. This is his career and his all he ever wants to do. There’s something about the ironing of a shirt, the polishing of a shoe, beat of the music and feel of the crowd that just can’t match. There have been bad nights, sad stories, injuries and pain in the past 23 years. On the other side there has been countless friendships, relationships and even weddings develop over the years. To some it’s a smelly, hot, sweaty, drink covered nightclub. To Chris it’s his second home, his livelihood and his family. People have often asked why he hasn’t gotten a “real” job. You can’t get any more “real” than keeping the sons, daughters, brothers and sisters of society safe on a night out. To some it’s a hobby, to Chris it’s a calling.
Caroline is 26 and has worked in nightclubs since she was 18. It started as a part time job while she put herself through her psychology degree. Then it was just to put her through her master’s degree. When the master’s degree was complete she was another in a long line of unemployed psychologists so the security industry became a full time job. One that could have a future for her. She’s now studying security in university part time. There are people who have made careers in this industry and that could be Caroline. If the industry is going to change then why not Caroline who changes it.
So this has been an introduction to the real people working at the coalface of the door security industry. It’s not meant to glamourise or sensationalise the industry. It’s written to show those who walk through our doors that there is life behind the person holding it open. There are happy stories, sad stories, hopes, dreams and tragedies. They may seem stern, solemn, focused or busy. That’s because they aren’t looking for thanks or praise, just some recognition as a human being. A smile, a hello or a thank you from one human to another.
Finally let me introduce you to Rick. Rick is 35 and works on a door because it makes him feel powerful. He is after all bigger, stronger and tougher than anybody else in the club. The truth is that Rick’s a clown. Don’t be like Rick.