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 :
* The education system
* Dysfunctional families
* Relationship issues
* Quantum physics
* Pharmaceutical industries
* Our roles as fathers
* Our roles as partners
* Social decline
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.
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.
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