SMOKE: Bouncers: The Scourge Of Nightclubs

Originally published: 15 April 2003

Today's story was inspired by a news item doing the rounds yesterday, about a New York bouncer who was stabbed to death for trying to enforce the new anti-smoking laws in a Manhattan nightclub.

He asked two blokes to extinguish their cigarettes, an argument ensued and he got a knife in the guts for his efforts, dying later in hospital.

My heart pumps lumpy custard. Do I look like I give a shit? Good - didn't think so.

That may seem callous, but when you've been on the receiving end of a South African bouncer's inability for rational thought and a meaty fist to go, you'll probably be cheering right along with me.

These thick pigs get away with murder (often literally), and are - in my eyes - the lowest form of scum ever to disgrace our planet with their presence.

Yeah yeah yeah - everyone knows a bouncer who "isn't like other bouncers", or who "is actually a very nice guy", but the fact is I've never met one of those, and until I do I can only rejoice when I hear there is one less of them in the world.

I am perfectly aware that there are pissed idiots at nightclubs who very often deserve a spanking, but what I can't understand is why the bouncer industry isn't closely regulated by an industry watchdog, with training, mental examinations and a disciplinary body to keep them in check.

But anybody seems able to hire the first thug who appears on their doorstep, and it is this lack of control which leads to the very nasty incidents we so often hear about.

My anger stems from personal liasons with these animals, and I still bear a couple of scars to prove it. I'm actually pretty lucky to be alive - I was very nearly killed by a group of them one night 12 years ago, for something I hadn't done.

There are many others who weren't as "lucky" as I, and they are no longer around to tell their side of the story. Here's my story.

First off, let me start by explaining that I am anything but a model citizen. I'll be the first to admit it. But on the night in question I was punished for the transgressions of others, and to this day it still rankles.

It was a balmy Cape Town night and I went with best mate Duncan and two underage girls to the then-popular Abigails in Rondebosch - a preppy, teeny-bopping nightclub which was always stuffed to overflowing.

The bouncers there were a particularly nasty lot, and some of the ugliest people I have ever seen in my life.

The two girls were 15 at the time - one of them had been expelled from Fish Hoek junior school for practising satanism (she claimed she was a high priestess of some Fish Hoek coven, and could levitate, and whether or not this was true, she was sensationally gorgeous).

The other was the sister of a schoolfriend, and the two girls were best mates (I had introduced Duncan to the satanist one and they were having an affair of sorts).

Despite looking even younger than their illegal age, both were let into the club with no questions asked - standard policy at Abigails, who checked the ID of every bloke who entered, but who let in 12-year old girls with startling regularity.

We found a table near the back and started work on a very large pile of beers, finding ourselves pretty smashed an hour or two down the line. The empty beer bottles covered our small table and we were having a fine old time as the place soon filled to overflowing.

As happens when you sit drinking for long periods of time, we lost all sense of what was going on around us, focussing on the faces in front of us as we earnestly discussed what were no doubt matters of grave importance.

So imagine my surprise when a bloke sitting at the table next to me suddenly reached over, grabbed me by the shirtfront and demanded that I replace his beer.

Through the haze I managed to work out what was going on, although it was difficult. The blokes at the next table were off-duty navy cadets on weekend pass, and somehow they got it into their heads that I had stolen one of the beers from off their table.

Turns out that one of the girls at our table had been drunkenly pushing used beer bottles off our table onto the floor, something none of us had even noticed. When I looked down there were at least ten empty bottles lying beneath our table, and the girl admitted she had been knocking them off surreptitiously.

She'd obviously gotten a little carried away and due to the closeness of our tables had knocked one of the cadet's half-full beers off his table (to this day I don't know whether it was by design or accident).

He hadn't seen it happen and as I was closest to him he assumed I had stolen it (a fact I found odd considering the fact that I still had three unopened beers waiting for me on my own table).

Once we got to the bottom of the story I offered him one of our beers as compensation, which he accepted, and we got to talking. Since by this stage he was sitting on his table, I stood up in order to chat to him at eye level, but in my state I knocked my chair over in the process.

I picked it up and straightened, and was about to resume my conversation with the cadet when I saw the crowd of revellers parting and four bouncers scythed their way through the throng.

Before I knew what was happening they grabbed me around the chest and feet, and holding me horizontal made their way into the back room, where there was a door which led to the exit.

A blow or two was rained upon my back as they carried me and soon we were confronted with the back door, which led outside to a flight of stone steps.

The door, unfortunately, was closed, but this didn't even begin to phase them. They opened it with my head, using me as a battering ram, and then they threw me down the flight of stone steps headfirst.

By the time I had reached the middle landing of the steps I had lost consciousness, so I don't remember the kicking that ensued when I finally came to rest at the bottom of the steps.

I woke up about five minutes later in the back alley, a pool of blood around my head, but with nobody in sight. Groggily I made my way around the building to the front - my face and clothes soaked in blood - and tried to make my way back into the club to find my friends.

Waiting on the stairs were the four bouncers, who took one look at me and burst into laughter, telling me that people caked with blood were not allowed into the nightclub, before shoving me backwards down the front stairs.

Realising that I wasn't going to get very far I stood outside and waited for Duncan to bring the girls out, which he did a moment or two later.

I was standing there telling him what happened when the bouncers decided they hadn't had enough fun for the night, and came out of the nightclub to the pavement where we were standing.

Duncan ushered the girls to his car which was parked about 10 metres away, and while he was doing so one of the bouncers grabbed me and slammed me into a parked car, explaining how he was now going to kill me.

But they reckoned without Duncan, who - as you may know from previous stories - carried a katana in his car.

Having retrieved it he made his way back to where I was and assumed a classical martial arts position - legs slightly bowed, with katana held in front of him.

He told the bouncer that if he wished to live he was to back off and get back to his club, and to emphasise the point he swiped at the guy with the blade, missing him by a few inches.

The bouncer got the message and left quickly, as did we, knowing the weaponry these pigs always carry. I drove home, got my old man, and brought him back to the club as witness, and after carefully checking out the bloke responsible he took me to Groote Schuur to have twelve stitches in my head.

The next day he called the club management and threatened a lawsuit if they didn't fire the bastard. They fired the bastard.

Now here's a thing - I can understand that clubs don't want wankers causing shit in their nightclubs, but the fact is I was totally unaware of why I had been fingered.

Duncan told me someone had seen the cadet grab my shirtfront and then me knock my chair over and had called the bouncers, pointing me out. But they didn't take the time to enquire of anyone what had happened, and they sure as hell didn't ask for my side of the story. Even the cadet was apparently upset.

Those bouncers took obvious delight in the fact that they had buggered me up, and as far as I know that isn't in their job description. They were supposedly hired to keep the peace in the nightclub - not to take great delight in nearly killing someone who may have had too much to drink, but who didn't deserve to be beaten up for it.

I've witnessed other fellers getting beaten up by these legitimate thugs, and as far as I know you don't have to beat someone up in order to eject them from your club.

They are big fellows and can easily remove someone who doesn't want to leave, so why do they have to resort to violence?

I'll tell you - it's because they are talentless, stupid, ugly freaks, with no ability for rational thought, and I for one take great joy in hearing of their misfortunes when they arise.

I no longer frequent places which have bouncers, but I would if I knew there was a regulatory body which trained bouncers according to a standard, and which disciplined those in breach of the code of conduct.

But that won't happen - some of the biggest criminals in our society are bouncers, with many involved in mafioso activities, and nobody wants to get involved.

I wish unimaginable pain and suffering on each and every one of them.

All Smoked Out,
Luke Tagg
Spending time online does bad things to a person, but I'm OK.

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Copyright © Luke Tagg. All rights reserved. A few lefts as well.

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