‘They joked about giving the video to all the people I was with’
The Tab speaks to the girl the Arena bouncers filmed bonking
When we think about Arena, a popular destination for Exeter’s club-loving students, we might recall the sticky, Jägerbomb-stained carpets, which always seem to emit a faint – yet quite distinct – smell of cheese/chunder.
Or the sight of several sweaty-faced couples locking lips on the dance floor, oblivious to their equally-as-smashed friends gathered round them with Instagram at the ready (#LOL).
Or the pen-like smoking area, shepherded by serious-looking bouncers, where someone – a legless fresher, usually – is often slumped against the red-brick wall, hiccuping audibly every few minutes.
Like the majority of Arena-goers, that was probably what one first-year Middle Eastern Studies student, expected when she arrived early on last term to Dirty Sexy People, Arena’s most popular student night.
Certainly, after a few-too-many VKs and bumping into a small group of Llewellyn Mews lads, one of whom swiftly whisked her away to the dance floor, those expectations were initially fulfilled.
However, after things – in her own words – “got a bit hot and heavy,” prompting the pair to seek some privacy in the the fire escape behind Arena’s smoking area, that Monday night took a dramatic turn, both for the female student and for Arena’s staff – notably its bouncers.
Ben Stupples (BS): What happened next?
Female Student (FS): My shorts came off and everything. Things got quite intense, and then we noticed there was someone crouching behind a car [and watching us] across the street.
BS: And that was a bouncer?
FS: It was a bouncer behind the car, the one who always checks IDs when you come in.
BS: How could you tell for sure?
FS: He ended up coming over to us, as well as [another bouncer] coming through the fire doors. They pushed on the fire doors against our backs to come through and interrupt us, and the one who came over from behind the car was like, ‘You do know there’s a camera here?’ And he pointed to the camera.
BS: There was a CCTV camera in the alcove?
FS: Yeah, so there’s one right in the top corner. You would never notice it. He [the bouncer] was like, ‘You shouldn’t really be doing this here. You know, I know you look like you’re enjoying it, [but] everyone in the front of Arena [by the ticket desk] has been watching you.’
BS: What happened afterwards?
FS: So there were lots of jokes. ‘You looked like you were enjoying it,’ and all this sort of stuff. And they joked about giving the video to all the people I was with, which everyone took as a joke.
BS: And you hoped that would be the end of it?
FS: Yeah, I didn’t think they would really look at my face. Like, I don’t think they would really think about it all. But the next day, for Cheesy Tuesdays, because I didn’t go out with my friends on Monday, I was like, ‘I’ll take a chance. They won’t recognise me.’ They told me they wouldn’t recognise me, and I didn’t think they would have access to the footage.
BS: But they did?
FS: Yeah, I went and he recognised me as soon as I handed in my ID.
BS: This is the bouncer who was crouched behind the car?
FS: Yep, and me and my friend got, like, led up to him and he grabbed me by the arm and was like, ‘Oh, look who it is!’
BS: He paraded you in front of the staff?
FS: Yeah, being like ‘This is the girl who had sex in the fire escape’ and everyone was laughing. I could deal with that, because that’s all I thought it was gonna be. You know, a joke’s a joke, but then one of my friends who wasn’t let through with us, and she’s in the queue, and the guy who I know who has his own CCTV footage from Arena goes to the bouncer: ‘Oh, is it any worse than mine?’
BS: So this guy, just to clarify, has his own video of Arena CCTV footage on his phone?
FS: Yeah, but his was more like a drunken blunder. He tries to, like, jump over one of the barriers, like swim over a barrier, when he’s really drunk and he doesn’t.
BS: And how did this guy get his hands on it?
FS: The Arena bouncers told him he’d done it, and so he knew they had it on their phone. And he said, ‘Is it worse than mine?’ and one of the bouncers said, ‘Well, why don’t we find out?’ He went and got his phone and had both videos. He then showed that to the people who were at the front of the queue.
By chance, a friend of the female student’s witnessed the bouncers display the CCTV footage, who said: “While waiting in the line at Arena, I was shocked to see how unprofessionally the bouncers acted.
“When they saw my friend they made fun of her and paraded her in front of everyone, making offensive remarks.
“Considering this to be a very sensitive issue I was appalled to see that they had the video stored in their personal mobile phone and that they were more than willing to show the video of my friend upon request to the group of people behind me in the queue.”
Describing the CCTV footage, the girl says it “involves me stumbling in to the fire escape, hands clasped with the lad, my back pushed against the wall and a lot of making out and eventually my shorts being undone.
“It’s the second half I’m more worried about, as that’s when it as I remember it got a bit more physical.”
In response to how she felt about the whole incident, the student said: “I have to admit I’m one of those people who just laughs stuff off as it can always be worse […] and a bit of banter with a few security guards is manageable.
“I’d say I was momentarily stunned when I heard people I knew had been shown it, only because I had originally thought it couldn’t be the worst thing that has happened on tape at Arena.
“I’d say it developed into feelings of embarrassment after realizing it’s not the average CCTV camera activity, but all I can do from this whole ordeal is warn other people about what went on, so next time they get a little too drunk at Arena (which we all know is inevitable) they don’t end up with their own ordeal.”
Having made contact with them, Arena’s representatives refused to comment.