Wouldn’t it be great if more bouncers were like Patrick Swayze in the ’80s camp classic “Road House”? I’m not talking about the girlish coif or penchant for tight jeans.
I’m referring to his professionalism. His tough but diplomatic method.
Swayze’s character, James Dalton, doesn’t necessarily want to beat unruly patrons senseless — after all, he practices yoga and has a Ph.D. in philosophy. Dalton is an evolved being. But if you take a swing at him with a pool cue, well, enjoy your new double-jointed elbow.
I embarked on this train of thought last week after interviewing Michael “Mikey Numbers” Borane, general manager of the just-opened Black Card Ultralounge in Scottsdale. Hyping the club, Borane promised that he would employ the most gracious, courteous door men in town.
“The (door man) situation in Scottsdale is in a pretty sorry state,” Borane lamented. “Our guys will actually be nice to you.”
Though I’m tempted to dismiss it as campaigning, Borane’s low opinion of his competitors’ bouncers isn’t unjustified. There are some real knobs out there.
First, let me acknowledge that working the door at a bar or club can be an infuriating proposition. You’re literally besieged by obnoxious drunks. You’ve got ornery metrosexuals fighting each other on your left, snotty college girls trying to pass fake IDs to your right. Being friendly? Not always a priority.
To be effective, you also have to be confrontation-oriented, and sometimes it’s hard for confrontation-oriented men to use appropriate force while showing surly drunks the door.
A pair of unfortunate lads learned this lesson at Dos Gringos in Old Town last March, when one of them — a self-professed professional fighter who allegedly made threatening remarks to members of the Dos Gringos staff — popped off to a bouncer named Matthew Capane and was knocked out cold for his trouble. Someone filmed the incident, and the clip became a major mover on YouTube.
Was it an isolated incident? Hard to say. I had a personal experience at Dos Gringos a few years ago that illustrates the, um, collaborative nature of bouncer/patron violence. It was right around closing time, and a bouncer walked up to me and rudely demanded my unfinished vodka and tonic. Thing is, I had arrived late and bought the drink not five minutes earlier. Sell me a drink and not give me a chance to drink it?
That’s whack. So I essentially ignored the guy and continued drinking. And he ripped it away from my face.
So I called him a name and gave him a nasty look and — get this — he threw my repossessed drink over his shoulder. In my direction! It actually landed on another bouncer, so everybody had a nice laugh.
Now, I wasn’t being a model customer, admittedly. I was young, and probably romantically frustrated. But the bouncer was arrogant and openly hostile. You be the judge.
I’ve also had positive door man experiences. I’ll never forget the time when a buddy of mine got a little too grabby on his birthday at Jackrabbit Supper Club and Lounge.
Sure, they bounced him, but with the utmost tenderness. They actually led him out by his elbow, like he was recovering from an appendectomy or something. It was beautiful piece of bouncing.
After the YouTube incident last March, Dos Gringos owner Brian Roehrich put his door staff through a “verbal judo course” designed to help them nonviolently defuse tense situations. And he applauds the idea of gentle door folk. But he also maintains that bars and nightclubs can only do so much to nonviolently subdue serious troublemakers.
“Once (a bouncer) hits somebody, you’re in the wrong,” he says. “But what do you do with the jackass customer who WANTS to fight? And then plasters the end result all over YouTube?”
Hmm. Call Patrick Swayze, maybe?