The awful people who ruin every night out, according to a Spoons bouncer
You’re all terrible
If we're to be honest with ourselves here, we're awful, awful people to deal with after a few drinks. There's only one group of people who truly know how bad we can get, and that's bouncers.
We spoke to a bouncer with over 20 years' experience working doors on pubs and clubs. From sneaking bottles of booze in with a wheelchair, to drug addicts attacking him with needles, to annoying regulars, he told us just what it is that bouncers have to put up with.
People who try to sneak booze in
Over a few weeks, Stu kept finding empty bottles of whiskey in the club. One nefarious group of students, numbering about 20, had caught his attention. He'd come away empty handed when searching them, but managed to get the culprit eventually.
"One night, one of the lads who’s disabled, he’s in a wheelchair, he didn’t have any legs. Nobody would search him, and I thought ‘why not?’, he’s the same as everybody else. Turns out he was bringing the bottles of whiskey in, sitting on them.
“I took him to one side, he pushed himself, with a very red face, onto a chair, and there it was.”
People who try and sneak in
Plenty of people use the cover of a fight to infiltrate the place, says Stu. Often they're underage.
“There was one that really really annoyed me," he says. "There was a group of regulars, all late 40s early 50s, came in most of the time and sat at a table in the front of the pub. At the back of the pub there was a fight, and me and the other doormen go over there and sort all that out.
"Then we go and have a check round the pub, and there were a load of kids about 14 or 15 all sitting in the corner drinking pints. We threw them out, and as I’m throwing them out, someone tried to grab us and it was one of the dads from this group of people at the front.
"When I checked on the cameras, while we were fighting, he kept putting his head round the corner to look, then he’d run round the corner, help them get in and get them drinks. They got barred as well.”
People who make no effort to hide their drugs
Although it's often a case of relying on instinct when deciding exactly who to search, there are some people who do the bouncers' job for them.
“One lad once, took his driving license out and didn’t realise that hanging on to it was a tiny little baggie of coke. Some of them don’t even care, it’s just so in your face,” he says.
Luckily for the guy, Stu saw the funny side. “I was in a funny mood that night, so I went ‘ah, thanks’, gave him his driving license back, let him walk about two steps in, then held it up and went ‘mate, have you forgotten something?’ He just went bright red. That was just flushed down the toilet, and got him out the door.”
Still, people can be even less subtle than that, with Stu saying that some punters try and leave some drugs for the bouncers as a sort of pre-emptive bribe. “You get a lot of them coming up to you and saying ‘I’m just going to the toilet to have a couple of lines, I’ll just leave you some.’ Erm…no.”
People on drugs who try to stab them with a needle
Over the years, people going out and taking drugs has changed. Some experiences are a far cry from friendly ecstasy users 20 years ago.
One particularly bad encounter involved a man doing heroin in the disabled toilet.
"I caught the lad in the disabled toilet. I saw him go in and he looked like a bit of a wrong’un, no way he was disabled. I opened it with my key, and he was injecting. I carry kevlar gloves, the same stuff they make bulletproof vests out of, and dragged him out. He got arrested for it, they took the needle away.
It didn't end there, and the next night "he turned up, giving us grief, and that was the night I was in the club by myself, a quiet night. About two minutes later he’s trying to stab us with a dirty needle.”
"That was terrifying.”
Bouncers who just can't hack it
Working alongside someone on the doors is often a relationship of trust, and knowing that the other person has your back. However, people completely unsuited to the job can turn up.
“There was one lad I met in a nightclub who was physically shaking and I thought ‘what’s wrong with him?’ Nothing, he’s just scared. ‘What are ya scared of?’ and he tells me he doesn’t know," Stu tells me, of a coworker who'd never been in a nightclub before.
“He was a danger to himself, and other people. Sometimes it’s like babysitting. You’ll be looking after them and you might be trying to sort something else out.”
It's not an uncommon thing, and quite often “you’ll get them, five foot, six stone, never had a fight in their life.”
Although it's not always about fighting, it does come in handy, with Stu saying that "a good doorman will talk 99 per cent of trouble out of the pub, but sometimes it does come to that. You need to be able to rely on the person that’s with you.”
Spoon's regulars, a.k.a Skid Row
Anybody who considers themselves a Spoon's regular knows in their heart of cheap-burger-clogged hearts that they're only a pretender. The true regulars, the ones who drain the taps from open til close, they're the real deal. But most aren't as beloved as their place in modern British folklore would have you believe.
“Most of them are a pain in the backside. It’s a bit of a Wetherspoon’s thing that there always seems to be one row of chairs against the back wall where they all seem to sit. In 90 per cent of Wetherspoon’s in the country, the staff call that Skid Row,” says Stu.
Yet, there was one regular that he was particularly fond of. Every Saturday, a woman and her husband would come in and spend the day. After a while, Stu found out that she was 102.
Living the dream.
Featured image: Sketch Exeter