Dead Head Doormen

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Not all doormen are juiced up Neanderthals with dodgy tans and warrior tats.
In fact, of the team of around 30 I manage there isn’t one who fits that stereotype.
Cringeworthy behaviour and machismo isn’t our thing, we would much rather help than hurt or hinder.
After an all nighter on the door, I often post on FB the topics of conversation we debate as doormen.
It makes me buzz to welcome the young intellectuals on student nights as we test one another to welcome them with our best vocabularies and etiquette, engaging them on subjects on which they no doubt imagine we have no clue at all.
If you have seen the film ‪Good Will Hunting‬ when Matt Damon’s character is in the bar and he shocks those who think he is a lesser mind with some deep understandings, you will have an image in mind of the picture I am painting. Not that we are all savant mathematicians you understand…
So what do thick as f**k, dead-head Doorman discuss as they stand on a club door in Liverpool all night long?
In no particular order but on regular occasions :

* Philosophy
* Mindfulness
* Meditation
* The education system
* Dysfunctional families
* Relationship issues
* Quantum physics
* Politics
* Grounding
* Law
* Medicine
* Pharmaceutical industries
* Health
* Wellbeing
* Children
* Our roles as fathers
* Our roles as partners
* Addictions
* Social decline
* Debauchery
* Greed
* Lust

And all the other deadly sins and topics, men who have lived lives of experience understand.
So next time you observe a group of doormen chatting on a club door, don’t assume they are talking about sex, fighting and which are the best steroids to enhance their physiques.
Instead get closer and listen in, you may learn something interesting.

Family First

A family mans greatest weakness. Is also his greatest strength and the choices an inner city man without a university education has to provide for his family, can be quite limited.
Door work for most is a supplementary income and in my twenties working all nighters on the Cream helped me greatly in moving from the bleak area I was raised, to one of the nicest areas of Liverpool.
The same for many of my Doorman colleagues who alongside their main work, put in the night time hours to escape the poverty trap.
For me personally this was arduous at times, day and night shifts back to back for years on end can take its toll.
As a father of three at the time it was worth the stress and the labour to see my children raised away from the dysfunction and general chaos, that both me and their mother witnessed on far too many occasions where we grew up and lived as young adults.
Often and inspiring me to escape before the children were born, I would return frazzled from a long shift in a chaotic homeless hostel or nightclub, dealing with the most damaged people our society can offer. To an inner city council estate where half the tenants thought an all night party midweek was the norm and I would be forced to confront this behaviour on many occasions and with as much stress as the work I had been doing, just so I could get some well deserved sleep.
Now a father of four (with another one on the way) and with a different partner also raised in a deprived area of Liverpool, getting our first family home together in a nice area of the City, away from ice cream vans blasting around the estate after 10pm at night, is helped once again with the income from door work.
Having a ten year break from around 30 to 40 years of age, I earned a second income through combat, much safer in many ways as there are rules, referees and no knives appearing from inside someone’s undies.
Many fighters work the doors whilst they build their careers in the hope to one day earn their living solely from contests, with the benefit and backup of tv cameras instead of CCTV ones.
I’ve worked alongside many champions in all combat sports, many still well known World Champions in MMA, Boxing, Muay Thai, Kickboxing and Karate as you read this.
Men of athletic fighting capabilities but not violent men so to speak, and generally not men to take liberties.
Cliche it’s true, but it’s the empty vessels that make the most noise and by and large the belief is a true one. The men with true ability to fight rarely do so, or have to, as their presence and confidence through a hard earned understanding of themselves can counter many a threat.
Strangely the toughest men I know are not professional fighters either, but all have trained as martial artists, boxers or wrestlers in a purist sense.
Older men carved from granite over decades of daily dedication in the toughest back street no-frills gyms and on the hardest of doors.
Those involved in criminality always have and likely always will, be regulars in and around fight gyms.
Men also not to be taken lightly and many who train as hard as fighters but do not compete, as risking reputation can undermine such people in a world where the appearance of strength is a definite bonus.
Their reputations as men important to them and irrespective of your views, I say bluntly that there are many labelled as criminals, who have clear family values that are beyond any doubt.
Where complications arise for many is in the pressure to provide, and stable capable family men can be drawn into what seem the greener grasses of criminality.
For me though, laying my head peacefully on a pillow at night is paramount and I have and always will put family first to the best of my ability, in my choices and the consequences of them.
I’d say most of us at some point in our lives have broken the laws that govern and control us to a higher or lesser degree, so be honest and judge none to harshly from your moral high ground.
Many we deal with on a weekly basis though have no obvious understanding of consequence until they may be facing a decade or three in prison.
That would be failure as a father to me and I assess all consequences of my actions with this reasoning.
Me and most of the men I work with as individuals are stand alone stoic souls, who will face formidable foes with calm and confidence.
Our weakness is our care and consideration for our families and how in a moment their lives could be turned upside down.
Family men feel their greatest fears for this reason, but the ones with the current label of ‘Rat’ seem to feel no such fear.
Family life doesn’t seem high on the list of what they hold most dear and it gives them a leverage but a false strength, they will always try to use to their advantage.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out who is prepared to stand on a door all night long to earn a wage for their family and who is inside the venue prepared to cause havoc without thought or consequence.
One group is focused on family the other group likely the way they are, because of the absence or care of one.
An understanding I have great experience of from my time as a an Assessment and Support worker in family homelessness for over twenty years.
I witnessed the children I helped support and care for in my early twenties re-enter the homeless and hostel cycle with their own children in my late thirties.
Abused, neglected and innocent children often become feral youths and violent adults devoid of any compassion or care for others.
These can be the type of damaged and vacant souls who will stab, maim and kill without hesitation and then receive a perverse payoff of prestige within a likeminded group for doing so.
Most though would cower locked in a room with the family men I know, if there was no fear of legal consequence for their actions.
I know which I am glad to be but nonetheless it’s a fine balance at times and knowing the truth as witnessed through my own eyes, it is hard to not feel deeply saddened for these defenceless children who have now become deadly men.
For who, if family had been first in their own parents thinking they likely would not be deadly at all.

Sent from my iPhone

Bully Boys

It’s difficult to assess a bully on the door when your under the influence, as you could be acting an absolute horror believing your exhibiting behaviour that is sweet and inoffensive.
We all know people even our closest friends and family members whose judgement can become blurred and inhibitions absent once the toxins take hold.
Staff willing to point your behaviour out or stand firm in the face of it can be perceived as bullies simply because most do not want to view themselves at fault.
We all have bad days, we all get things wrong and we all can become frayed at times no matter what job, role or position we are in at the time.
Bullies though are pretty consistent, it’s in the blood a way of life that reflects something amiss in their own lives. Massive insecurities, bad experiences, learned behaviours etc etc etc the lists of the why’s and what for’s seem endless but essentially we are talking about a damaged person in differing degrees.
Put that person into any position of authority in this case on the door and hey ho off we go.
The problem becomes one of danger for others if one bully becomes a collective and they are involved in confrontational work of any form.
The only thing a bullying doorman doesn’t have over say someone in the police or prison service with these traits is a lot of legal backup, but a group of bullies brought together can be a dangerous time for others.
Weak types with bad intentions who can love nothing more than getting a kick from seeing another person feel intimidated or fearful. Usually a weaker type without any bad intention will be their target, but if there are enough of them they will try it on with a more stoic type of man.
That’s when the saying ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ can shock one of these types right down to their little bully boots.
I’m above average height and look slender in my clothes and wear glasses, a four eyes if you will and I don’t look like your average 30 year veteran of combat.
But I’m a battle hardened hombre and my warm and decent demeanour has on occasion been mistaken for weakness by a bully.
Safe to say I have had to alter the perceptions of those intent on intimidation on occasions throughout my life.
I wasn’t always able though, I learned to be able and I learned through this process that bullies are formed through harsh experiences in their own lives and the child always becomes the adult, sometimes a twenty stone adult with a hulking physique and a very aggressive attitude.
I am proud to say though that bullies are absent from the team I work with, the righteousness and the calibre of man I work with have either learned throughout time that this is not the way to behave or were never like this from the start.
From my vantage point door staff are much more inclined to intervene when bullies wear the latest fashions and are visitors to the places we work.
Bullies are everywhere within our midst it’s just that the bully type on the door are much more easy to spot.
Speak with respect to others and you will most often get past the guard that can sometimes be misinterpreted, if the guard relaxes and your still met with hostility, your likely talking to a bully or maybe two.
Bullies do like safety in numbers it goes with the territory and my best advice is that as soon as intuition serves you on a night out, go someplace else where the welcome and energy is more to your taste and liking.

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.
Young men, coursing with testosterone, hoping to impress our equally unsure female age group.
Males but with much less physical capability than we would like at this age, 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 at …. 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 have come not to expect or on rare occasion 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.