Volume 96, Issue 85
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

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Bouncers to get in touch with feelings

By Diana Whellams
Gazette Staff

Their necks may be big, but it doesn't mean their hearts are.

Bouncers at nightclubs in Madrid, Spain are being offered "sensitivity courses" that include information on everything from anger management and civil rights to fire safety and emergency procedures.

"You have to find the right people and give them the right mentality," said Nathaniel Battiste, manager of Joe Kool's here in London, noting he hires his staff personally and prefers the term "host" as opposed to bouncer.

"We meet [potential bouncers] and interview them," Battiste said. When chosen, Joe Kool's staff undergo training by a police officer who specializes in teaching bouncers, he explained. They are taught fire safety, minor first-aid, liquor license laws and undergo some physical training, he added.

"There may be a perception that [bouncers] are versed in their authority," said Const. Paul Martin, spokesperson for the London Police Department, adding police training is not mandatory for bouncers.

"When situations escalate, [bars] pick up the phone and call us," Martin said. Situations where bouncers use excessive force are rare, but do occur on occasion, he explained, noting bouncers only have the authority to use the same amount of force as a regular citizen. "They generally know how much force to use."

"It's a bar – you do have drunk people," Battiste said, in reference to the use of physical violence. Physical force is a last resort, he said. "There are going to be altercations."

"We have 250 lbs guys and 150 lbs girls [for bouncers]," Battiste said. He explained that when hiring staff he gives priority to their ability to talk to people, not their ability to use force.

"It'd be nice if there were regulations [for training bouncers], but I don't think it's a necessity," said Rich Guttman, a second-year economics student at Western. Guttman said he has seen bouncers be verbally abusive, but added he felt the treatment was deserved.

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