The job of club security is to protect the club’s founder, inventory, employees and guests, as well as to prevent any criminal activity within the club, and to immediately notify the authorities of any wrongdoing.
If one of the employees is having an issue with a guest, you always side with the employee.
If the club has a frontman, he’s the one who decides who gets into the club, that’s not the role of other security members, nor are they paid for that.
Nightclub security personnel
"Bouncers" are ordinarily responsible for keeping law and order at nightclubs, bars, lounges, entertainment venues, etc. Formal bouncers, more commonly referred to as "security", are typically employed at clubs, arenas, theaters, operas and casinos. While day time front door security is in demand at all times at most places, nightclub security normally work the grave-yard shift.
People go to nightclubs to enjoy themselves. They want to have a few drinks, party with old friends, meet new people, and have a good time. Lots of people and alcohol is a recipe for trouble, and that’s why it’s important to have a high quality security crew. A good crew will track and resolve any potential problems, without a single spilled cocktail.
Night club security members include: Floorman/Cooler, Frontman/Doorman, Friskers, regular bouncers, surveillance member and Chief of security.
The majority of a club’s security crew consists of bouncers. Like all other security team members, bouncers report to and are headed by the chief of security. Their job is not to communicate with guests (floorman’s role), to make strategic decisions (chief’s role), or to decide who does or doesn’t get into the club (doorman’s role). Their job is to enforce the decisions and orders of their superiors.
FLOORMAN OR COOLER
The difference between bouncers and "floorman bouncers" or "coolers", is that the floorman is the guy that has to display communication skills, and is the one that deals with the guests and any developing situations among the guests.
Everyone knows that people go to nightclubs for one major reason… to have a good time! It’s a place where you go to relax, feel good, and to forget about what’s going on at home or at work. Therefore it’s the mission of the club and its associates to create an exciting and comfortable atmosphere. Needless to say, maintaining such an environment is easier said than done. People are drinking, meeting new acquaintances, and can get carried away by the moment. And there’s nothing worse than a ruined evening because of a few bad apples… a good floorman is one who can recognize a potentially problematic guest, without seeming like a harassment and interrupting everyone’s party. It’s important for him to be respected, and to stand out from the crowd through his uniform and conduct. He must continually monitor all the guests’ behavior and body language, and determine if someone should be asked to leave the club.
FRONTMAN / DOORMAN
Frontmen are ordinarily good-looking as well as physically formidable (brawny), creating an attractive yet imposing effect. They are well dressed and respected by club guests. A head doorman’s (another term for a frontman) role is exciting, but can also be dangerous. You must maintain a firm, my way or the highway standing, because after all, you are representative of the club, you reflect the image of the club.
Frontman’s job is to recognize quality guests, and to rule out and deny access to those less desirable. He also makes dress code judgments and performs face-control checks, for purposes of good housekeeping.
Style of a frontman
Good taste and high style are fundamentals of a good frontman. You must always report to work on time (fashionably late is only tolerated from the guests), well dressed, smelling good, and above all, high spirited and prepared for the evening ahead. Suits are the dress code of choice for frontmen, given that you are the image of the club. Drinking on the job is strictly prohibited. Standing for long periods of time is also an aspect of your work, welcoming all guests while remaining warm, pleasant, and easy on the eyes. Remember, you are setting the tone of the club, a sampling of what awaits inside.
Frontman job description
The role of a frontman is to allow guests whose names are found on the list provided by the BHP team into the club. You will have received the guest list 2 hours prior to the start of the evening and arrival of the guests. Usually there are 2 lists; the guest list and the reservation list.
The guest list consists of the names of people who are “friends of the club”.
The reservation list consists of the names of those who have booked in advance their table in the club.
If an individual is found on the guest/reservation list, you should allow them into the club. When people show up during the course of the evening claiming to be with a listed reservation, you should grant them access as well. Obviously, there is more than one person accompanying a single name (reservation).
In the event that the BHP team decides to list each individual specifically, you are to allow only the listed individuals in for that reservation. If not, you need to let in anyone claiming to be with the listed reservation.
Sooner or later you will be offered cash from someone to let them bypass the line or to let them into the club, this is officially prohibited, and you can be fired for doing so. Some clubs tolerate this sort of protocol more or less, depending on management. There is no rule of thumb.
Work hours are from 2 hours from the beginning of the evening until the end of the night.
FRONTMEN AT TOURIST & LOCAL URBAN CLUBS
There are clubs located in tourist areas and those found in more local areas of the city, the differences being significant. In tourist areas there is a constant flow of new faces, some “prettier” than others. Frontmen at clubs with a variable clientele are basically responsible for charging entry fees and upholding the dress code, making sure that guests are appropriately dressed. This of course means closing the door to those who seem to have come straight from the beach, sportswear, just rolled out of bed, or are simply too casual.
In an environment with a more regular local crowd a frontman’s role is much more dignified and collected, the key element being his recognition of repeat guests. It’s important for a frontman to have a discerning memory in order to avoid a potentially uncomfortable situation, for instance denying access to a frequent guest because you didn’t remember who they were.
A frontman’s most powerful weapon is the guest/reservatio list provided by the BHP team, listing the names of expected individuals and their respective spots or tables in the club. For instance, there’s a reservation under the name David Jones, and over the course of the evening there will be around a dozen people arriving at various times in various groups, all corresponding to the same reservation. The frontman must allow them to enter, at which point they will most likely be directed where to go by the Hostess who is part of the BHP team.
If BHP team ( booking manager ) decides to limit the number of people per single table reservation, then frontman should follow that rule.
However, what’s the code of conduct when someone shows up at the entrance claiming that they don’t have a reservation? These are the situations in which the quality of a frontman is brought to light. Good judgment of the guest’s wardrobe, body language, and character are all-important factors in determining whether the guest is fitting for your club on that particular evening. It’s also very important to remain objective and to put any personal emotions aside. That is, imagine you are presented with an attractive guy, a known heavy spender in the club scene, who happens to be with a girl that refused to go on a date with you… you have got to remain professional and welcome them to the club.
Guests who have been denied access to a club are often bitter if not angry, and can create an uncomfortable situation. For this reason it’s very important to always have a valid excuse on hand, something to help them preserve their ego, for instance telling them that there is a “guest list only” policy for the evening.
Often people will claim to be guests of a BHP team member, a club manager, or even the club owner. You have got to remain firm and maintain that they must be on the guest/reservation list in order to gain access, and if there happens to have been some sort of miscommunication, that they should call whomever they’re claiming to be with and have them notify the frontman.
What happens when a seemingly good guest asks to be allowed into the club, promising to run up a high tab, and thus contributing to the party? It’s important to be in touch with the booking manager during the course of the evening, so that hostess could come to the entrance to welcome the guest and subsequently consult the booking manager to determine where they could "seat" the guest.
Joker V.I.P. tables should be reserved for any unexpected guests who may show up just before the party starts.
In situations in which the club is full and a favorable guest (politicians, celebrities, athletes, as well as heavy spenders) shows up, the Frontman and Booking manager have just 3 positive outcomes to this situation. One is to move a regular guest to a lesser table or section ( with their prior accepting ), the other is to always have on hand a so-called "joker V.I.P. table and the third solution is to put guests to share table with some of the club promoters.
A good frontman is highly valued and is rarely replaced by a club, particularly at local non-seasonal spots. Salaries range from 70 to 300 $/night, depending on the day of the week and the club in question.
Friskers are those security members who check guest for weapons. They are very important figures of the security team. Their role comes to play at the entrance of the club.
If club policy prohibits guns, which is advisable, that should apply to all guests, no exceptions. The patdown, or “frisk”, is conducted at the club entrance to check for any concealed weapons. There should be male and female security members to frisk male and female guests, respectively. A metal detector should always be used.
In the event that you do discover a weapon, that guest should be denied access to the club.
It’s not advisable to hold on to a guest’s weapon because you never know what sort of crime could have been committed, and in the event of a raid you could face serious problems considering that the guest would almost certainly deny ownership of the weapon.
Police are allowed to enter the club with their weapons.
A modern club security member is an individual who sits in a surveillance room, monitoring the entire club floor through use of cameras. They then notify the floor crew of any potentially suspicious activity via earpiece or telephone. Surveillance members are very important figures in club security.
If someone gets into an argument in parts of a club where there is no regular security coverage, the surveillance member comes into play. They are the only security members that do not need to be physically fit as part of their job requirement.
CLUB CHIEF OF SECURITY
The club security crew is arranged and directed by the chief of security, with security firms or agencies most frequently being behind the scenes. The chief of security should be an individual with connections in the police department and other institutions, a certain degree of street credit, and someone whose reputation won’t be the cause of conflicts in the club. The chief must appoint people who will stay alongside him and follow his orders in difficult situations. The chief only answers to the club manager and owner, and must take responsibility for his actions.
The chief of security is responsible for the conduct, dress code, and readiness of his crew. He needs to be sure that they are capable of dealing with any situation that may present itself during the course of the evening.
It’s in the interest of the club and the chief of security himself to be a local, or to have at least lived in the area for some time. The advantage of having a local chief, apart from being familiar with figures in law enforcement and such, is that he could recognize quality guests as well as problematic locals.
High Level Security
No club would want to employ an unstable, mild-mannered individual regardless of physical capability. Refinement, courtesy, and an all-business attitude are the defining characteristics of a professional in this field.
Every club wants to have high level security as part of its canvas. High level security isn’t merely based on physical strength and knowledge of martial arts, but on refinement and bravery as well. It’s a package deal.
In contrast to working as a personal bodyguard, the nightclub scene isn’t a high risk gig. In many clubs, the security team hasn’t engaged in a serious brawl in years, if not decades, of experience. The most frequent incidents are those of guests who have had too much to drink and need to be escorted outside, and the occasional headlock in order to do so.
Follow the Leader
Security members in a club are like soldiers, their general being the chief of security. Key elements of this job are obedience and fulfillment of your chief’s orders. As is the case with any job, you may not like or agree with some of the aspects or decisions, but it’s your job to do what has been ordered by your chief of security. It’s graveyard shift work, lasting until the early morning hours, sometimes upwards of 6 nights a week.
Drinking alcohol is strictly prohibited while on duty, as is chatting and socializing with guests.
Besides being physically capable, you must exude poise and class while on the job. Strength, marksmanship, and good looks will not secure a high paying position if you lack that ‘club security’ demeanor and charm.
Security structure organization
There are a number of different types of club security organization and distribution approaches, for which the chief of security is responsible for deciding.
It seems the best arrangement is one in which most security crew members are positioned at the club entrance during the course of the evening. Some may disagree with this policy, but we find that it’s the most effective alternative.
A high-risk club with an expected capacity of 1,000 guests should employ 10-20 crew members.
Low-risk clubs may not need more than 10 crew members.
The distribution should be as follows:
- -50% of the crew should be at the club entrance during the entire night
- -50% of the crew should be scattered within the club at points where they can monitor the guests and notice any potential problems. They should be in groups of 2 or 3 within vicinity of each other.
BHP AND CLUB SECURITY
BHP team consists of a Booking Manager and reservation team, Hostesses and Promoters. Their job is to fill the club with as many appropriate guests as possible.
The chief of security, frontman/doorman, and the floorman, all must be familiar with the guests who will be arriving that particular evening. Knowing the clientele enables them to organize and prepare the security crew, and if there happens to be a high risk group to heighten security measures (hiring additional support). The BHP team is responsible for informing the security crew of security measures that need to be implemented for the protection of guests, both individual and in general.
BHP or Club Manager Intervention
In the event that a hostess, manager, promoter, or someone from the BHP team shows up at the entrance to escort someone into the club, allow that individual to enter. It would be advisable to remember that individual so that when they come to the club from then on, you will let them in without having to confirm who they are.
FROM A LEGAL PERSPECTIVE
In every country there are different laws when it comes to the rights of nightclub security staff. Here are some examples of how certain countries have regulated their laws concerning the regulation of the conduct of security staff.
Hollywood has painted a picture of bouncers as big, mean, often ugly guys, who wipe the floor with guests who can’t seem to follow the rules. In reality, however, that’s not true. Bouncers in most countries have no more rights than ordinary citizens to use physical force, or to make arrests. Therefore they must act within legal limits when dealing with guests. When they are attempting to escort a guest out of the club, they must be defensive, rather than offensive. Of course, if a guest is being physically violent towards them or other patrons, they must use force in self-defense, but must also remain as diplomatic as possible. If the police have been notified, club security has to restrain the guest until cops arrive, without seeming overly aggressive. Guests may file lawsuits against the club, despite the fact that they were intoxicated and/or unruly.
Bouncers in the United Kingdom are referred to as “door supervisors”, and are licensed by the ‘Security Industry Authority’. Institutions such as the ‘British Institute of Innkeeping Awarding Body’ offer such training programs, and pave the path to a door supervisor license, which is issued on a 3 year basis. Individuals typically undergo about 30 hours of training, preparing themselves for any situation they may encounter. These lessons include conflict resolution, arrest protocol, drug education, guest behavior, emergency situations, safety, etc.
Bouncers in New Zealand must have a COA, or ‘Certificate of Approval’. Qualification includes criminal history background checks, as well as court approval certifying that the individual is sufficiently familiar with New Zealand law. The COA is issued to all sorts of security officers, and is a measure to prevent misconduct and to ensure the safety of guests
New York law stipulates that only certain agencies can mediate the employment of bouncers and security personnel. It is also illegal to hire a felon as a bouncer. Proper licenses are required, as stipulated by Article 7 of the General Business Law. These measures are intended to protect customers and guests at bars, clubs, etc.
HISTORY OF CLUB SECURITY
Historically, bouncers have had the role of no-nonsense, ass-kicking, tough guys. But as times changed, so did the role of bouncers. In the late 20th century the role of bouncers transitioned to one of conflict resolution through communication and limited physical force. This evolution occurred in order to prevent lawsuits against bouncers by disgruntled guests. Furthermore, the title of a doorman can earn great respect, and has been regarded as an honored and important position.
In US Western towns in the 1870s, high-class brothels known as "good houses" or "parlour houses" hired bouncers for security and to prevent patrons from evading payment.
In Wisconsin's lumberjack days, bouncers would physically remove drinkers who were too drunk to keep buying drinks, and thus free up space in the bar for new patrons.
In the 1880s and 1890s, bouncers were used to maintain order in the "The Gut", the roughest part of New York's Coney Island, which was filled with "ramshackle groups of wooden shanties", bars, cabarets, fleabag hotels and brothels. Huge bouncers patrolled these venues of vice and "roughly ejected anyone who violated the loose rules of decorum" by engaging in pick pocketing, jewelry thieving, or bloody fights.[
Bouncers in pre World War 1 United States were also sometimes used as the guardians of morality. As ballroom dancing was often considered as an activity which could lead to immoral conduct if the dancers got too close, some of the more reputable venues had bouncers to remind patrons not to dance closer than nine inches to their partners. The bouncers' warnings tended to consist of light taps on the shoulder at first, and then progressed to sterner remonstrations
In early Nazi Germany, some bouncers in underground jazz clubs were also hired to screen for Nazi spies, because jazz was considered a "degenerate" form of music by the Nazi party. Later during the Nazi regime, bouncers also increasingly barred non-German people (such as foreign workers) from public functions, such as 'German' dances at dance halls.
Bouncers also often come into conflict with football hooligans, due to the tendency of groups of hooligans to congregate at pubs and bars before and after games. In the United Kingdom for example, long-running series of feuds between fan groups like The Blades and groups of bouncers in the 1990s were described by researchers.
Bouncers have also been known to be associated with criminal gangs, especially in places like Russia, Hong Kong or Japan, where bouncers may often belong to these groups or have to pay the crime syndicates to be able to operate In Hong Kong, triad-connected reprisal or intimidation attacks against bouncers have been known to occur.
- The significance of the doorman as the person allowing (or barring) entry is found in a number of Mesopotamian myths (and later in Greek myths descended from them), including that of Nergal overcoming the seven doormen guarding the gates to the Underworld.
- In 1 Chronicles 26 of the Old Testament, the Levitical Temple is described as having a number of 'gatekeepers'—amongst their duties are "protecting the temple from theft", from "illegal entry into sacred areas" and "maintaining order", all functions they share with the modern concept of the bouncer, though the described temple servants also serve as holy persons and administrators themselves (it is noted that some administrative function is still present in today's bouncing in the higher position of the supervisor). Doormen or bouncers are usually larger persons who display great strength and size.
- The Romans had a position known as the “ Ostiarius “ (doorkeeper), initially a slave, who guarded the door, and sometimes ejected unwanted people from the house whose gate he guarded.
- Plautus, in his play Bacchides (written approximately 194–184 BC), mentions a "large and powerful" doorman / bouncer as a threat to get an unwelcome visitor to leave.
- Tertullian, an early Christian author living mainly in the 1st century AD, while reporting on the casual oppression of Christians in Carthage, noted that bouncers were counted as part of a semi-legal underworld, amongst other 'shady' characters such as gamblers and pimps.
Need to know!
Most evenings at a night club begin the same way. People are excited about the night ahead, knowing the weekend has finally arrived, and are in complete party mode. Towards the beginning of the night people are arriving and settling in, and the music is warming up. The drinks are flowing and the atmosphere is growing. Everyone is having a great time. As the morning nears, however, some guests may be behaving differently than when they arrived. An individual who was welcomed by the bouncer, may now be someone who should be asked to leave the club. Most often alcohol is the greatest common factor, but there are cases of anger, jealousy, complexes… to name a few.
In any event, a guest who seems to be a threat to another guest should be removed from the club.
There are many elements to effective guest removal. It’s important to limit the drama as much as possible, in order to avoid disrupting the other guests. You must keep in mind that the guest will most likely not respond kindly to the news, particularly if there was a cover charge. For this reason, you should be discreet as possible, trying not to embarrass the guest in front of their friends, which would certainly worsen the situation. There should always be one more security crew member than guests being escorted, for purposes of crowd control. If a guest is being cooperative, your job will be made much easier. More likely, however, the guest will be drunk (if not inebriated) and angry (if not violent). It’s important to explain to the guest why they are being expelled from the club, and that their continued presence on the property will result in police intervention. If the guest’s biggest complaint is that they paid the cover charge, the floorman may decide to refund the individual. You must be thick-skinned for a job like this, because you can expect lots of verbal abuse from disgruntled guests. They will criticize and ridicule you, yell profanities, and may become very personal. As a professional, you must maintain your composure and not give in to the verbal assault. If the guest becomes physically aggressive, however, you have the right to self-defense. Remember, individuals who are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol are much more vulnerable than sober individuals. Serious injury or even death as a result of asphyxiation or internal bleeding after being pinned to the ground or punched in the head or abdomen is a serious possibility. There is a very thin line between self-defense and overkill… be very careful not to injure someone.
Despite being commonly perceived as massive, unintelligent guys, good floor man / bouncers are excellent communicators who earn the respect of their guests. A good bouncer is one who can remind a guest of the house rules without twisting any arms. You must be confident in order to avoid being provoked by angry guests, and you must always remain professional and firm. A good judge of character can predict a guest’s behavior, before any problems arise. A military or police background isn’t a requirement, but would certainly be a great tool in finding a job, as well as dealing with any potential situations at work.
Security work is known for lots of standing, movement, and the occasional physical altercation. You should be fit, but keep in mind that an employer may hesitate to hire someone that is too thin.
It’s important to be firm and assertive so that you can control guests without the need for physical aggression. You must earn the respect of your guests, and the best way to do that is to be courteous and reasonable. Conflict resolution training could prove to be invaluable in refining these skills.
Average salaries in the U.S. are around $25,000/year, whereas in Europe, high grade clubs pay upwards of 200 $/night.
In European countries, earnings range from 1,000-3,000 $/month.
Work hours are ordinarily 3rd (graveyard) shift, usually from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., 4-6 nights/week.