From managing unruly crowds during celebrity events to dealing with drunken men at nightclubs, bouncers have to remain calm while maintaining their sturdiness. Some tell us about the challenges they face…
“There’s a difference between hiring those who are educated as bouncers and those who are only into pehelwani,” says Surinder Singh, a manager and a head bouncer for a security services agency in Delhi.
Singh mostly works at events where he has to protect celebrities from the general public. Since there is such brouhaha over celebrity events, often it gets difficult for Singh to do his job properly on such eight-hour shifts.
“At an event where there are thousands of people coming just to get a glimpse of a celebrity or to get a photo, it becomes really hard to do your job without being rude to those people,” says Singh. He further adds that for every event the organisers give instructions to Singh, after which he informs his team of 30-40 bouncers. The protocol keeps changing in accordance with the magnitude of the event and the celebrity who’s coming.
He says that some celebrities also instruct the organisers that no one should come near them. In such cases, Singh’s responsibility extends to ensuring that no one comes in close proximity to the celebrity, along with handling the crowd. “But it’s not their fault. That is how fans behave. We understand that they want to get a picture, but they don’t realise that it is our job and we are only following orders,” says Singh.
Ever since the culture of nightlife has caught on, the job of bouncers has become increasingly difficult. Singh says, “Often when people get into a brawl at a nightclub, the bouncers are blamed and not the person who started arguing with the bouncers.”
Although he tells his team of bouncers to remain calm and be polite to the people visiting the nightclubs, it becomes difficult for them to keep their cool if a person starts abusing them in an inebriated state. “Just because they’re bouncers it does not mean that they will tolerate everything a drunk person says. First they start abusing and sometimes, they even go to the extent of grabbing the collar,” says Singh.
Such brawls are not new and it also involves damage to property, serious death threats and injuries. He says that even though things are changing now, whenever a fight starts, in the end it all comes down to the bouncers and the owner of the club.
“There is a difference between the kind of crowd that goes to a nightclub in Connaught Place or Khan Market and the kind that goes to one in Rohini,” he says. According to Singh, the behavior of people also changes depending on the location. He says that people who go to a nightclub in Connaught Place know the repercussions. “They know that they will get banned from most of the nightclubs if they act rowdy at such nightclubs,” adds Singh.
Many a times, bouncers have to face the wrath of customers who become unruly after they get drunk. In July last year, at Power Play Sports Bar in Gurgaon, three young men started arguing with a bartender when they were asked to pay for their drinks. A bouncer intervened and asked the three men to leave. The men left the pub but later bashed up the bouncer when he stepped out for a break.
“At high-end pubs people with deep pockets enter with arrogance and defy rules,” says Bharat Singh, a 29-year-old who works for Denetim Services — a security service provider in Delhi. In September, Kabir Talwar, who owns many pubs in Delhi, was beaten up by seven-eight men after they were not allowed to enter the pub. Since a regulation is in effect that does not allow stag entries (a person who is unaccompanied by a partner, mostly applicable for a man) on Saturday, the men were turned away. But they followed Talwar and bashed him up right in front of his residence.
Their attack was so violent that Talwar and his bodyguard were hospitalised. Bharat informs that the case was closed after they reached an agreement. However, he refused to disclose the details, citing confidentiality.
Bharat recalls an incident that happened at a pub in Rajouri Garden, which involved an MLA’s son, who showed up at the entrance intoxicated. Bharat stopped him from entering, saying that the pub was about to close. But he was adamant on entering because a Punjabi singer was in the club. Bharat then told him that if he knew a person who was present inside the pub, he could call him/her and then he will be allowed. But he didn’t pay heed to this and again tried to enter, after which he started abusing Bharat. Despite all efforts to calm the situation, he kept pushing Bharat and also started arguing with the owner of the pub. Even though the situation was brought under control after sometime, the next day when Bharat was going for his shift that person (who had fought with him) tried to stop him. “He left when I told him that if he continued to behave in that manner, I will ban his entry from all the pubs in Delhi,” says Bharat.
Bharat says that some people are so engrossed in showing off that they also refuse to wear the band which signifies access to the pub. “They think wearing a band will lower their economic status. They find it insulting if we frisk them before allowing them to enter the pub,” he adds.
Sameer, who’s a security provider and a bouncer, has provided security to celebrities like Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan. He says that those who handle celebrity clients are not even called bouncers. Instead, they are known as security providers, since it’s all about protecting and escorting the celebrity.
Sameer was into wrestling and boxing before becoming a bouncer. He says that being educated is equally important for this profession as it enables a bouncer to carry out his duties fittingly and with dignity. Anubhav Khiwani, founder of Denetim Services, claims that most of the bouncers in his agency are educated and some are also graduates. His agency has around 100 permanent bouncers. “We tell our bouncers very clearly that if they do something which is illegal, then it will be upon them and not on the agency,” says Khiwani.
According to Khiwani, nowadays bouncers also land up in a challenging situation when they have to handle a meeting of those who are going through a divorce. “Sometimes the ex-couple meets for a formal talk and end up fighting,” he adds.
He also feels that there’s a stark difference between the bouncers who handle high profile events and those who works in the pubs. “Chaos and disorderly behaviour in this country is becoming common,” says Khiwani on the behavior of people these days.