The Real Roadhouse: We Were Bouncers
For quite a few years, I, along with a motley crew of seven or eight other intrinsically badass gentlemen, worked three nights per week as bouncers in the sort of beyond-low-rent yet somehow excellent club where it was highly unusual to see a night pass without two or three random acts of – often extreme – violence. There were generally six or seven of us there at any given time, poised and peering from the shadows. We communicated via headsets, carried bear mace and blackjacks to diffuse drunken riots, kept a handsome stockpile of firearms in the back office, perfected the unsubtle art of intensive bar room psychology, and, when we had to – which was often – used our fists, knees, and elbows to deliver quick solutions to hazardous problems. Most of us were the preternaturally focused pupils of the head bouncer, “AK-47,” who ran a local underground boxing academy/MMA school (one that has since turned into quite the phenomenon; I will dedicate an in-depth article to it soon), so there was a lot of respect and fear oozing from the auras of our regular club patrons. But it’s funny how a dozen beers and the resulting liquid courage can change that; and it did…Suffice to say, there were a lot of teeth to be swept up at closing time. Here are some invaluable life lessons I learned while living the now-often-missed lifestyle of a bouncer:
If there’s a shooting on your first night of employment, you can be sure that you’ll never be bored. Lesson learned: Entertainment keeps you on your toes.
It is an absolute impossibility to put drinking/drugging Hispanics, Asians, “gangstas,” and rednecks into one room, without someone eventually getting stabbed through the eye with a broken beer bottle. Lesson learned: Diversity is not necessarily a good thing.
If you stomp on someone’s leg hard enough, it will break. Lesson learned: Know your strength.
Dating 18-year-old single mom strippers whom you meet at the club is not progressive behavior. Lesson learned: Don’t mix business and pleasure.
Drinking vast quantities of Jager, on the job, may lead you to believe that you’re a 260 pound ninja-turned-bouncer who can make sudden cat-like jumps from highly-elevated dance floors without destroying your ankle. Lesson learned: This is false.
If a drunken middle-aged fat man with a heart condition decides to charge a group of 20-something bouncers, without provocation, while yelling “I’m gonna fuck you up!!!”, he will either be knocked out or have a heart attack or both. Lesson learned: Think before you act.
Checking ID’s at the local watering hole frequented by man-children, frat boys, and microbrew-guzzling neo-philosophers does not make you a bouncer. Lesson learned: One man’s “tough” is another man’s “pussy.”
The movie Road House is full of shit. Lesson learned: The lightweight Patrick Swayze would have lasted ten seconds on our turf.
Blurting out “I’m gonna knock out the winner of the karaoke contest,” then attempting to trade punches with a head bouncer who hits like Mike Tyson, will leave you wishing you’d been nice. Lesson learned: Saying and doing are two entirely different concepts.
Rap fucking sucks. Lesson learned: It REALLY sucks.
There are such things as bouncer groupies, but they aren’t the sort of women you should emotionally dissect unless you want them to leap over a Denny’s table, butter knife in hand, with every intention of poking it into your jugular. Lesson learned: Denny’s has good eggs.
Portable metal detectors are helpful when someone comes into the club, then says “I just got out of prison for stabbing someone to death.” Lesson learned: Many people are extremely insane.
Suffocating headlocks are helpful when the same guy gets in your face after you’ve taken his knife and kicked him out. Lesson learned: Don’t let go of a psycho ex-con until he turns Smurf-blue.
Blaring music, cigarette smoke, bar food, strippers, stress, aggression, violence, and lack of sleep are not good for the health of the body. Lesson learned: Sometimes you must sacrifice the body to strengthen the mind.
If you put your life on the line for someone who is willing to do the same for you, you’ve transcended the basic principles of friendship. Lesson learned: There’s nothing like the camaraderie of fellow bouncers.
To my bouncer buddies who did not make it into this piece (Trench Goose, Diesel Wilbur, Drewberry Blend, Yant, Aus10, Uncle Vicenzo, and Others), I will gladly include you in a future posting when I have the corresponding photos.
By Jon Neralich