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24 April 2024

The best bouncer is the friendly face of security

By Alan McMillan

They are a sign of an exclusive club or a VIP lounge and have an air about them that says “don’t mess”. Doormen, commonly referred to as “bouncers”, present an image of someone who will break up fights and forcibly eject undesirable patrons. In movies they are often portrayed as tough, thug-like scrappers who love to fight.


Clubs, bars and concerts foster that image by hiring over-sized body-builders to handle out-of-control patrons. But how many of these bouncers would be able to react accordingly in times of a real crisis? Inexperienced bouncers would be forced to rely on their own common sense and physical instincts to solve a problem and this in my opinion is a scary thought. In a club or event setting, the combination of excitement, testosterone and machismo can sometimes lead to problems over seemingly insignificant issues.


The main duty of a bouncer is to monitor the crowd to see that everyone behaves and follows the house rules. It is their job to react quickly and intervene before the incident escalates and not to behave like a bull in a china shop and in most cases the bouncer actually makes the situation worse.


The best bouncers are personable, friendly and can talk to people without appearing threatening or intimidating. A professional bouncer doesn’t “bounce” anyone, he manages people and some of the best people in this business are the ones who very rarely resort to any form of violence as they are very good at appreciating an incident and react quickly to defuse a situation in a non-violent manner.


There is also a common misconception that bouncers have the authority to pick someone up and physically remove him or her from the premises. It is also believed that bouncers can use pain compliance holds, choke holds, wrist locks to man-handle their patrons.


This is simply not true, simply stated bouncers cannot legally use force against anyone unless they are taking someone into custody for a crime or in self-defence. When force is used it must be reasonable. Bouncers have no special authority to physically eject a customer who merely becomes intoxicated or verbally obnoxious.

As an employee or owner of the establishment you should be aware that bouncers can only demand that the undesirable customer(s) leaves. If the customer refuses to leave their only legal recourse is to call the police. Only in special circumstances can a bouncer use force to remove the individual.


The hospitality industry needs to address these important security issues. Real training should be provided to all people responsible for crowd control. Bouncers should have at least basic training in laws of arrest, conflict management, crowd control, first aid and even CPR. There have been recent cases in the UK and US where the hospitality business had been sued for assault, not the bouncer themselves and we don’t want cases like that here.


(Alan is Operations Director for Secure Plus Security Ltd UAE)