Next time you head out to the bars or to the clubs, give second thought to the person checking your ID.
With an insider’s view from the outside, they’re an integral part of the bar scene – working as bouncers at various bars in downtown Davis, fifth year senior English major Matthew Nickerson and junior biochemistry and molecular biology major Andrew Del Real witness another side of Davis nightlife.
Scott Rea, owner of Froggy’s, delineated the duties of a bouncer.
“[Bouncers] make the place comfortable for anyone that wants to come in and to make sure that laws are [abided] by,” he said.
In a volatile workplace surrounded by college students and alcohol, the job requirements of a bouncer call for more than just sheer physical size. Though size is helpful, attitude is the most important thing, Del Real said.
“It takes a lot of patience and a really clear and level head in order to do the job – it’s really difficult because you’re in an establishment that promotes people going wild and crazy,” said Del Real, who currently works as a bouncer at The G Street Pub and Froggy’s. “There really is a fine legal line that you walk in this work.”
As Nickerson – a former bouncer at Soga’s – demonstrated, foresight and an assertive personality are other important qualities bouncers must have. Bouncers have to play the adult in the situation, he said.
“Our main job as bouncers is to be smart enough to see something happening before it does,” he said. “After a while, you become pretty adept, it’s pretty generic about how it starts, but some people [don’t] know how to tell people what to do or jump into a heated situation. You need people to do that and not just sit there with their foot in their mouth.”
The pay varies depending on the establishment – Del Real said that each bar has different ways of compensating their security staff and that it adjusts with things like base pay, hazard pay and tips. Rea said that bouncers at Froggy’s make a range of $8 to $14 an hour.
Nickerson and Del Real attested to the “bad guy” stereotype that goes along with their line of work.
“Bouncers get a rough kind of [image] just because the stereotype is that we just like to bully people or [are] jerks in general,” Del Real said. “That’s really not the case. We’re there to do a job, we’re there to look out for the job and make sure that everyone’s safe and having a good time.”
Nickerson added that some people don’t realize that most bouncers are simply taking advantage of their physique to get a job in a town where it’s hard to get hired in the first place. For Nickerson – who participates in strength athletic sports such as Strongman – personality also played a part in his role as an authoritative figure.
“I’ve always been kind of a father figure, a papa bear, when I go out,” he said.
From the occasional bar fight to especially hectic events such as Picnic Day weekend and graduation week, the job of a bouncer has been a learning experience.
“Aside from getting to know people in the industry, it really gives you a newfound respect to everyone who has that same job,” Del Real said. “You definitely conduct yourself a little better when you go out because you know how it is and how rough it can be.”
For any people new to the bar scene, Nickerson gave a piece of advice. Have fun, but carry yourself responsibly, he said.
“Of course, have a great time when you go out – that’s why the bars are there,” he said. “But be responsible for your actions, don’t treat the bar like it’s some place to let everything go or tear the place apart.
“Everyone thinks that they’re immortal when they go to bars, especially when they’ve been drinking. Every guy thinks that they’re Superman.”
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