Unsung Heroes

Most observe doormen with a negative perception, maybe warranted in some cases and in others totally unfair.
I suppose views of doormen are pretty heavily influenced from our time as underage teens, walking up to bars or nightclubs, nervous and unsure of ourselves. Adults before our time, hoping to blend in with less than sophisticated actions and behaviours.
For young men, coursing with testosterone, hoping to impress our equally unsure female age group.
Males with much less physical capability than we would like, told to behave or being turned away, by much more physically capable and mature men.
Young girls coming of age, with far too much makeup on, either being responded to like the teenagers they wish not to be, or being leered at and taken advantage of by the minority of doormen who see young, drunk girls as an opportunity to embolden their own insecurities or desperation.
Young minds taking in what they perceive is the norm, and like all negative experiences in life, locking these automatic reactions away to be unleashed at unsuspecting doormen when again drunk and intoxicated as adults (the child within syndrome and all that).
When I was a teen I also acted as a teen myself and interactions with females were immature on both sides.
But when you become a man and observe either a young female or male in either distress or a very vulnerable state and can see the predators circling, the impulse for me and the many men I have worked with over a 23 year period is to help and protect.
I personally have taken male teens attacked, hurt or in danger into the premises I’ve been working on and on several occasions to their homes.
Females and males lying in the street alone and very vulnerable, too drunk to even stand but not warranting the wasting of time of an ambulance. I’ve ensured I could communicate with them enough to get a parents or family member’s phone number and rang mums and dads at stupid o’clock to come and collect their children.
My friends and colleagues have also acted in similar manner on many occasions and we have likely become friends in our work because we are kindred spirits. Such a friend – a man I still work with today and someone who has been a mainstay in Liverpool Bar & Clubland for near 40 years -warrants the best story I can tell about going beyond the call of duty.
Julius (Bunty) is a life guard (swimming baths) by day and, well yes, a life guard by night too, an all round superhero to be fair, and a man and a friend in the truest sense of the words.
Finishing his shift, driving home on New Year’s Day, freezing and dark, his full beam hits a figure laying in the perimeter of a well known Liverpool park that is a car cut through for many.
Stopping he realises the lad is not hurt but confused through a combo of likely drugs and alcohol and totally and completely stranded over ten miles from home.
Into the car he helps him and home he takes him to knock on the young lad’s front door and be greeted by a shocked but thankful father.
“I work on such a club” Julius says, which at the time was a well renowned gay and mixed club in Liverpool and went on to say he had found the man’s son in a vulnerable state.
Julius was tired, he wasn’t best comfortable with the scenario and he wasn’t explaining the circumstances fully but he could tell how the dad was taking in the information, who was also tired and likely not comfortable with a tough looking light skinned black man turning up at his suburban home on New Year’s Day, straight from a Gay Club with his intoxicated son.
Safe to say there was no letter to the Liverpool Echo by a very grateful parent to thank one of the unsung heroes of the club security world. Safe also to say there never are thank you letters, a good job then that we don’t do the job we do for the thanks we don’t expect or receive.

Danger Money

When I first started protecting the partying public I was 21, dressed in a dickie bow and black suit, earning £10 per hour.
Door work, security work, being a bouncer, whichever term suits, still carried a bit of status, those being kept safe respected and appreciated those providing the safety. You were expected to protect the name of the club and its team of staff as well as its customers and by and large that’s how it worked.
Now if you work the door you’re likely to get buzzed off by the young grafters for a wage not far off someone taking orders at a drive through is taking home.
23 years on, things have changed somewhat but for most £10 per hour is still the same wage, for some it’s even as low as £8.
So imagine 30 years ago when the wage was a tenner an hour, doormen must have felt like Dalton in Roadhouse
Me and the team I work with, thankfully have more considerate employers who have moved with inflation.
But stature has turned to a snide wage for the majority though, especially when the hourly rate is hard earned in dealing with knife attacks, very real and extreme violence, threats of death and harm to both the person or persons manning the door and, sadly in these times, their families too.
In times gone by, when men (cliched as it may have been), were still men, problems between individuals were settled rightly or wrongly between those individuals.
Either there and then, or through what was known as an arranged ‘straightener’.
A meeting in a public park or car park, where to some extent it would resemble a bare knuckle showdown.
But all this changed acutely in the 90s, with memory clear as day we watched gun crime become the norm.
So men unwilling, or unable, or too ill-equipped to fight physically, realised that a bigger man more capable physically, was no match for a bullet, the playing field was levelled but never more uneven.
What once was honourable if primitive, then became sordid and perverse; the prevalent realisation that strength in numbers was the way forward and people’s families had in many cases become fair game in the settling of upsets.
Hyena style attacks on the more manly type of lone lions, gave the weaker types the upper hand for a time.
Nothing new in the history of time but the start of a new cycle on the cobbles of Liverpool.
Cliche it may be, primitive it is, but when I was a boy and teen, men were men and the toughest individual men received the respect, kudos and a healthy fear from would be opponents of their ferociousness as fighters.
My time was the time of honourable martial artists and boxers, becoming the most respected men in the inner city society.
Some became bullies and then after a couple of decades of the lesser equipped man, unable to fight back, the bullets became the equaliser.
I remember well, the quietening of the profiles of very capable men not prepared to use weapons and the rise of the new breed. This breed at least in my life time set the tone for the two decades that lay ahead.
Progressively becoming more violent in order to make their mark, maintain and guarantee their ascendancy up the food chain.
What has remained quite consistent though, is the type of individual prepared to work bar and club security.
There are many varieties of the Doorman and throughout this blog, I will give an authentic and picture perfect presentation of them all.
Your perceptions on some may not be altered, but I guarantee with other examples, they will change dramatically.

Clubland Catastrophes

A month has passed since the holiday period ended and clubland has returned to normal for those who work and are frontline, to what is very abnormal to most.

It’s sad to say witnessing the evolution of violence from a standpoint both on the club doors I manage and inside all the premises this festive period meant Christmas Cheer was almost completely missing in Liverpool’s city centre club and bar world. Females as vicious as males, the older as violent as the younger with no morals and no boundaries. The police stressed, as over stretched as they are under resourced, meaning they were absent for the most part leaving my colleagues and me to mop up the mayhem left in the wake.

The many compassionate and honourable security staff members I work alongside and in close proximity to, virtuous family men and some women much like myself, all collectively sickened. Intervening in wild gang attacks on well dressed couples and lone individuals, some who had instigated their beatings, some just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Boxing night recently by far the worst night in Clubland I’ve experienced for some time, stabbings, terrible attacks on busy City Centre roads, numerous episodes inside the venues from the start to the finish of the shift after 6am in the morning. The Wild West wouldn’t be far of the mark set in 2017 Liverpool, sad as it is to report when our city’s renaissance elsewhere is so celebrated.

The worst of the incidents would you believe being after the clubs had let out at this time, with one of the main roads in Liverpool resembling a scene from a battle ground.

Again the courageous and compassionate people I work alongside having to intervene with me to prevent at least two potentially fatal attacks.

Knife crime has gone to new extremes in this City and is now to the point where it seems almost casual, to an observer like me quite alarmingly normal, with some of us becoming desensitised to it.

I know society from the many angles though earning my living for 25 years working in the most chaotic of environments. Door staff receive a raw deal and the perception, often by very inebriated people, is not a healthy one. Our role as professionals is to help and men like me pick their teams well these days.  As a result we are weeding out the bullies, the macho men and the wronguns.  Left with a majority of stoic, hardworking and caring people, who worry more and more for the safety of their customers.

Sadly the people we help hugely, although often very nice members of our society likely don’t remember too much or may be embarrassed to think of thanking us when they return to their normal states the day after.

So to the advice…if you’re ever in trouble in this City… Approach a Doorman or woman with courtesy and most will be more than happy to help you in any way they can. You can rely on them. You can trust them.