Photo credit: Tan

Working as a bouncer for a day

I finally had the licence to throw people out of the club and check their IDs.

Winston Tay

Published: 19 December 2017, 10:15 AM

Like many other youths, I hit the clubs once in a while.

After a couple of unfortunate encounters with a few bouncers, I thought they were just a bunch of unreasonable, unnecessarily fierce and biased folks.

It got worse a year ago when two bouncers bounced me out for partying too hard on my birthday. MY BIRTHDAY.

After my short stint as a bouncer at Altimate, a popular club known for its breath-taking 360-degree view, I started to see another side of the supposedly aggressive men who guard the club doors.

Altimate was pretty packed on a Friday night. Photo credit: Tay

On Dec 1, I reported at 1-Altitude at 9pm for my four-hour shift. I was due to shadow a team of bouncers at Altimate, located on the 61st storey of the same building as 1-Altitude.

To my surprise, Altimate’s team of bouncers welcomed me with open arms, literally. Everyone was friendly and nothing close to aggressive. They took turns to show me the ropes and kept offering me drinks – non-alcoholic ones, of course.

During my shift, I shadowed security manager Yusri Shariff, who briefed me on their daily operations, such as checking identity documents (IDs), verifying entry stamps, and bouncing out intoxicated patrons.

Senior bouncer Charlie (dressed in a suit) teaching me how to check IDs because I simply can’t math. Photo credit: Tan

As soon as I took over Yusri’s job of checking IDs at the entrance of 1-Altitude, I failed miserably. I kept miscalculating the patrons’ ages, which was the easiest task of the night.

I also realised it became increasingly difficult to remain calm in front of hundreds of people who were waiting to get in. Around 10pm, more people started lining up to gain entry to the club, and I started feeling anxious.

That was when I noticed the bouncers putting on firm fronts while managing the crowd.

Yusri, who has 10 years of experience as a bouncer, explained the importance of doing so: “We have to be professional and appear calm in front of the crowd. No laughing, not much chit-chat.

“We have to be strict because if anyone brings in anything illegal, the club is held liable.”

I tried very hard to maintain a straight face as the crowd rushed in. Photo credit: Tan

I was then tasked to check the entry stamps of the club patrons in Altimate. It seemed straightforward at first, but I soon encountered intoxicated club patrons who were a tad unreasonable – some were even violent.

Honestly, I was trying very hard not to freak out. I had to reject those patrons firmly to ensure that the club’s environment remained safe.

If I had hesitated, they would have forced their way through.

I then understood why bouncers turned some patrons away – and why they probably bounced me out on my birthday.

Within a few seconds, they have to observe each patron and decide if he or she would cause unnecessary trouble. Other patrons will be at risk if these checks were carried out complacently.

Yusri shared how he once let a few tipsy men back into the club. They ended up throwing a few glass bottles of vodka across the dance floor, and his team had to escort them out.


Watch me struggle as a bouncer here!

After I ended my stint at 2am, Yusri joked: “I think you’re ready to work full-time here, boy.”

I laughed, because I barely pulled through four hours, and I can’t imagine working the full 10-hour shifts required of a bouncer.

Most importantly, I realised that bouncers definitely deserve more recognition. They are not just a bunch of fierce-looking guards who check your IDs and rummage through your bags.

Besides running the club, bouncers often go an extra mile for their patrons. They sober up wasted patrons and even call cabs to send them home.

Coincidentally, as I shadowed Yusri, we sat down to talk to a tipsy expat until he was sober enough to head off, instead of bouncing him out right away.

I would rather be at the club as a patron rather than a bouncer. Photo credit: Tan

So, the next time you see a bouncer, offer them a smile. They may appear firm and seemingly aggressive at first, but they are actually working hard to ensure that you get to enjoy a safe clubbing experience.

You may or may not get to skip the queues with a smile, but being nice to them helps to make their day (or rather, night).

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