09 September 2014

Bouncer Talk- profiling and avoiding the bubble

Probably no surprise that the vast majority of real problems come from males. For the most part the guy that comes into the bar alone or with a lady is not an issue. When he has a wing man, or more often a few guys flags go up. Not from him just walking in but knowing that if one in that group has to be removed you will be dealing at least verbally with the whole group. If things go to the ground, his buddies who may not otherwise be involved will have no problem kicking you while you are down. I go out of my way to learn the names of regulars because if you know there name it is less likely for them to act up, and if they do it makes for more effective verbal commands. During conversation it sometimes turns to interests and they assume I have done some MA. I have found that if most people have trained it is in wrestling, BJJ, or MMA. This only concretes the emphasis I have always put on staying on my feet. In our upstairs bar we primarily deal with Hipsters who are all mouth, but seldom create a physical problem. At the concert venue, it of course depends on the concert. We host a lot of sub mainstream bands with loyal followings, lots of Indie, mall punk, punk etc. What most of the crowds have in common is that it is basically conformity masquerading as individualism. All groups/subcultures have "uniforms".

Not surprising is that another similarity to police work is that most of the time it comes down to interpersonal communication skills and reading situations fast. The biggest difference is that always working in crowds like concerts and bars is that your regular "awareness" skills need to be tweaked. You are surrounded by people and the amount of input to your senses is overwhelming. You need to learn to gate it, and by that I mean filtering things that are not important. Think of the information as water flowing through a hose, even none important things like someone dropping a pool cue (which at first used to make me jump) can cause a bubble or stoppage in the hose. You have got to keep the flow of information coming. I have found that the best way of doing this is not to look for individual problems in the crowed because it forces you to focus on small areas and that creates a "bubble", but rather scan the faces of the people in the crowd. Because you are scanning across a broader field you are less likely to miss things. People tend to react in clusters and square to the sight, sound, or action that alerted them. So in a big crowd you see a group of people spontaneously square towards another person or group. Another way to look at it is like this, you are working in rapids and looking for the reaction of a pebble hitting the water, it is easier to see a boulder splash.

This is something that I started doing long ago into a lesser degree in restaurants or bars. Sure it is nice if you can get your back against a wall, but I am more interested in being close to an exit, especially when I have the family in tow, IMHO the kitchen is always best since it leads to the back door, and unless it is a very professional take over robbery, the chances of anyone being posted on the back are slim. I also prefer to see the door, but more importantly I scan the faces of other customers and more importantly the staff. It is their environment, and when you work in an specific environment you notice unusual things. The will have tells on their face, you just need to learn to read them. I have found that women are best for this. They have a creeper detector, and it is usually set very low. Just watch their body language and listen if you can. Also watch for them to go back to the serving station to complain or talk about the person to the bartender or other servers. Waitresses and bartenders often have stalkers.

When I am working the door and doing my physical pat-downs of people coming in, here are things I look for.

I have already talked about footwear but here it goes again, a hipster where flip-flops or other slip-ons are less likely to kick, or be effective at kicking then the punk wearing Doc Martin or logging boots. Are they wearing pants or shorts that would allow me to pull them off their feet? Many punks blouse their pants into their boots.

I also look for belts because they provide and excellent handle that will not rip off like other clothes.

Early on in my career I stopped grabbing onto suspects clothes because of them ripping and their ability to spin out of them. I once saw and officer left standing with a leather jacket, one pocket filled with crack and money, the other filled with a pistol. Even when doing Judo I did not grip the Gi but instead used the natural hooking points on my Uke's body. This and removing my thumb from the grip so that I can only pull (which is 30 % stronger than pushing, and brings the attacker closer) has made all the difference for within arms reach control.

This is just more stuff off the top of my head- George

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