Nightclub Security – Heroes or Villains?

Last weekend, me and my friends were victims of a completely unprovoked attack at Bristol’s biggest nightclub – Motion. It’s not news to anyone that the mixture of close conditions, illicit substances, and male ego’s can lead to some sort of violence in even the most tame of clubs. However, the issue for me, is the complete lack of interference and care shown by the people who are meant to keep club goers safe – the security.

Now it’s pretty common knowledge that club security tend to be considered unfriendly. I mean having to deal with gurned up grime heads every weekend isn’t going to lead to much job satisfaction. But these are the people who we rely on to keep us safe. In some cases our lives are literally in their hands.

Being the self-righteous young adult that I am, I reached out to my Facebook friends, to see if they had any similar situations, in which club securities failed to do their jobs. The responses I got were thoroughly, thoroughly disheartening;

Credit: University of Nightlife

“I reported that a man kept touching my bum and security guard dealt with it by doing exactly the same – Harry’s in Newcastle. Also at the Sheffield student union at a Pop Tarts,  I saw security condoning someone to punch some one else because they found it funny” – Brooke, Sheffield.

“Once Embargo’s got boys and girls to get into pairs with one another and was one of the most homophobic clubs I’ve ever been to –  we were asked by the doormen to pair up with the opposite sex otherwise we wouldn’t get in. I remember seeing people who were homosexual being told they aren’t allowed in on the basis of being gay… It was pretty bad”  – Aidan, Bristol

“Last night I was told I couldn’t enter a club because the prejudice bouncer said he could smell weed in the air i also could smell weed. Not coming from me though. The same bouncer refused to give his details for me to make a complaint to his bosses about his judgmental approach. I can see the stereotypes he was trying to put me under, Rasta red gold and green obviously smokes weed, not to mention the ket and coke heads gurning there faces off in the smoking area. SWX head doorman, apparently called George Washington. more like Donald Trump.” – Guire, Bristol.

“I had gone into maccies earlier in the night and clocked this door which I’d never before seen was open, someone I was with opened it then security got vex so. I told them they should lock it cus it’s only gunna cause problems. Later on at about 6am, I somehow ended back at maccies and for some reason went through that door which happened to lead into the basement, I walked around for a bit just generally pissing about then next thing I know I’ve caught a right hook to the side/back of my head and I’m on the floor, try getting up obviously but these guys won’t let me, tried to reason with them but when I spoke they hit me again and said that every time I tried to speak they would do it again, I was forced to lay on the floor for about 10/15 where I got kicked a few times, they then called police.. and in the time they were waiting for them to arrive they started to joke around with me taking the piss etc and trying to make light of the situation so as when feds came if looked as though they had done nothing wrong, very snidey” – Ewan, Leicester. 

“Guaranteed everyone’s had bad business with bouncers, I’ve seen innocent guys being beaten up countless times even though they literally did nothing! I’ve known stories of girls (back in Cardiff) like this one being held on the floor as a bouncer crushes her even though she’s not even resisting she’s just lying there crying and her friends screaming telling the bouncer to get off her! She was literally started on because she was a bit rowdy drunk” – Lowri, Bristol

“I’ve seen undercover bouncers at Rainbow in Birmingham try to sell people pills, grab them up, chuck them out and ask for bribes to get back in”. – Wakil, Manchester.

“Me getting concussion last Tuesday in blue mountain and being refused first aid” – Sophie, Bristol

“There’s this security guard at Mosh (Leicester) and he’s such a prick. Turned up with like 3 white dudes all about mid 30s, not acting particularly drunk. We were refused entry. Same guy when I was with one of them again. Still no entry. Yet a bunch of white girls under 18 using fake ID’s acting white girl drunk are let straight in. This guy must be like 5″2 and not much to look at, he’s loving the power trip. Because after trying to reason with this legal logic he’ll turn to his big partner and just not respond. He’s revelling in the idea that me speaking sense can be taken as a provocation and his big mate can fill us in. I think the sexualisation of this British nightlife is the wider problem. The idea of lads going to pull birds is an awful subculture and I think young people’s perceptions and ideas about going out need to change. As they all lead to places becoming tougher and then shut down. I think we need to change the mentality to getting people to go out and have a laugh, meet new people, express themselves and network. If that was the case, you’d have less intense people at the door. Because the night out would be the spirit of the people rather than a building.” – Edward, Leicester

Photo by Molly J. Smith

The stories just keep on coming, and they’re not isolated to one company or area, these are widespread terrible incidents, where club goers are left powerless, because bouncers are always bigger, stronger, and have a lot more friends than any of the victims of these attacks.

The sad part is, these incidents go unnoticed by the club owners and management themselves, they literally have no care for any violent assaults that happen under their roof.

Now this isn’t to say that all clubs, and club security members are terrible, I’ve had some pleasant run ins with security before, and a lot of them are decent, responsible people. But just like any group of people, there are some bad, bad eggs. We have a culture of young people taking drugs, going to clubs and looking to have fun, but when people, who in some cases are pretty vulnerable (intoxication often means you can’t really protect yourself) cannot safely rely on the help of those who are paid to ensure their safety, we have a real problem.

If security are not doing their jobs properly, the exciting culture that I am proud to call myself part of, is sure to die. MP’s and legislators will continue to close clubs down, and continue to blame it on people who are only looking to enjoy themselves. We need proper standardised, and reviewed training for all security officers, and hey maybe even a few chest cams won’t go a miss. These people need to be held accountable, just as we do with Police Officers.

We cannot let thugs have any sort of power over any group. Some of these bullies belong behind bars.

If you have been a victim of any assault or unreasonable use of force by any member of a security service, always report it to the police. Do not let them get away it. Name and shame.

Words By Alex Rodrigues

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