T Nation

Being a Bouncer - Tips, Techniques and Tales


A few weeks ago I was offered a job as a part-time bouncer at age 36. I took it, having never bounced before or been much of a fighter. I was offered the job on account of my greater-than-average size and strength, my mild demeanor and for the fact that I’ve handled trouble on a few occasions at this bar. I suppose an average drunktard would find me rather intimidating, especially at 1:30 in the morning when they are having shit-faced thoughts of demonstrating their masculinity with bad decisions.

The pay is pretty decent at between $15 and $20 an hour (depending on how much I help the bartenders) cash-in-hand each shift plus a free dinner. I have no commitment to actually work any specific nights, which is great for a side-hustle.

The job has proved to be most interesting so far. I haven’t had to fight anyone yet, but I’m sure that will happen at some point. I basically get paid to check ID’s, stand at the door, be large, talk to patrons, flirt with females, occasionally deny service and guide the drunken people to the best possible decisions at the end of the night.

I started this thread to hear from other T-Nation members who have experience with this line of work. Tips, techniques, things that work well, things that don’t and crazy stories are all welcome in this thread.


did the bouncer bit for about 3.5 years most fun i ever had on a job "you really paying me to do this"
one thing i found is how you talk to people really keeps the fights down
ex. excuse me sir management requests that you leave for the night
vs. hey you have to leave
but if you have to fight, make sure you are friendly with every body kind of sucks when you put someone out and he has friends and you dont
i know a guy who made this mistake
if cops come by offer them a beer even if you have to pay for it
helps when your word vs. someone else
best story i got was
had to make this guy leave it got ugly he called cops gave description said the other guy, me. was 7 feet tall 300 pounds {this happened really long time ago} cops laughed their asses off on this one


All I know about bouncing is: Be nice, until it’s time to not be nice.


You are the bouncers. I am the cooler.


Never give people the benefit of the doubt.


That and “pain don’t hurt.”.


Never bounced but have read some good books on it by Marc Mac Young. Can’t recommend his books highly enough, they teach you how to spot and avoid or counter violence physically when you need to.
It seems like the majority of bouncing is psychological assessment and management(not saying that its easy). Danger wise that depends on where your doing it, it could be easy money or too much trouble for what its worth. $15-20 an hour for potentially risking your health or life?
The intimidation factor of a big guy(especially on steroids) deters most people, but these days there are a lot of skilled normal sized MMA guys that will tear the shit out of a big guy who doesn’t have much experience with violence. Then there are situations with weapons.
You also need to consider what could potentially happen if you get into an altercation with someone and seriously injure or kill them. You could end up or manslaughter or murder charges, you could be sued.


I used to fuck guys like you in prison


“Skilled” MMA guys, or any truly “skilled” guys, do not start fights in bars, or anywhere else for that matter.

Check out the combat forum on this site for example, no one in there who knows anything about anything is going to be starting any fights unprovoked.

I agree on not worth the money for the risk; but the risk usually, usually, depends on the location and the clientele of course.


I don’t have much advice but maybe when you’re trying to calm a jittery drunkard try not to do that overly polite yet stern sort of speech pattern that cops use. It sounds bad.
Maybe try to sound like his buddy more.


I’ve never been a bouncer, but my brother was and he’s about the same size but much more of a people person and way more judicious when applying force. He had a great time with it. Free booze at a titty bar plus money! The dancers were a bit problematic when they got too coked up though.


C’mon we’re talking about the real world here there are plenty of bad asses with fighting skills out there. They come in all different types, even a good guy can have a bad day, have too much to drink, break up with their girlfriend, lose their job etc. Rightly or wrongly for a drunk man(or a woman)provocation is in the eye of the beholder. “ARE YOU FUCKIN LOOKIN AT ME”! Have you heard that before in a bar?

If you’ve heard of Baz Ruten one of the early guys from MMA, you will know how he tore up a bunch of bouncers in Europe(got arrested and served jail time too). Dude has mad skills.

Like I said earlier I’ve never bounced, but I have been in quite a few fights, in bars, all unprovoked on my behalf(unless you count being there and breathing, apparently some people do). One thing I did learn was to always have your back to the wall so some turd can’t come up from behind and sucker punch you. Any large group like a bunch of navy guys, or bikers you may as well just leave and find another bar, if you want to avoid trouble.


Thanks for all of the replies so far.

For those curious I am bouncing at a small bar in small town Maine that rides the line between dive bar and neighborhood bar/grille. I wouldn’t take the job if the regular patrons were Mongols, Gangster Disciples or women from New Jersey.

That’s not to say there aren’t knuckleheads to deal with - there are - but the typical crowd is a mix of 20 to 40-something regulars who like to smoke weed, drink beer and dance like white people. Last week the whole bar was done up in blacklights and the band played songs like “I’m Shrooming”, “Smoke Two Joints” and “Jump Around”. Luckily nobody got shot.

I also work with a 350 pound partner on busy nights, and just about any given night there are more than a few guys who can and have stepped in to help handle someone getting violent with the staff. The cops stop by almost every night to say hi and everyone on staff has a very good relationship with them.

As for me, I don’t consider myself much of a fighter, but I’ve came out on top in all recent engagements, none of which I instigated. At 6’ tall and 290 pounds I’m a big boy with physics, brute force and sobriety on my side. I’m not invincible by any means, but I’m good with the odds knowing what I know about the type of trouble I may have to deal with.

My current thoughts on the gig are “I can’t believe they pay me for this”. Normal duties include people watching, high-fiving, shaking hands, getting hugged, getting felt up, slapping some asses and declining drink offers. I’m both single and eschewing all alcohol for the near future so this job is a great way for me to get out a bit and get laid. I’ve “cooled” a few tense situations but otherwise it has been a lot of fun.

There’s always a certain level of risk, but that’s true every day you get out of bed.


this is pretty spot on
there are people out there who are really good at street fighting with or without formal training
no rules
weapons definitly bring about whole different level
i think it comes down to risk reward type thing
we would get several hundred people in on a good night 4 bars in one building
but almost every night had alot of fun made it worthwhile

they may not start them but when you have to stop the fight you still have to deal with them
we had a guy who was ranked 16th in world in his weight class in boxing would come in sometimes he would get little rowdy bump into someone, shit hits fan pretty quick in a crowded bar
then you have guys who dont fight in ring but have enough skills to be real pain


think about the guys on this site who are into strongman and looking for empty beer kegs


If Alpha stopped by my bar he’d be drinking for free all night.


almost forgot
if someone is an asshole bad for buisness
if someone had a bad day or to much to drink
remember they are a customer they spend money


Not necessarily true. They shouldn’t, and most probably wouldn’t. But, you can’t think that way. I know a guy who is a black belt in American Kempo, very skilled one at that, and this dude is an asswhole and looks for any opportunity to use his training. Not only that but he is quick to got for eyes and ears. P.O.S honestly.

My point is rather than have the opinion that skilled Martial Artist wouldn’t do this or that, have an outlook that everyone you encounter is a highly skilled at Martial Artist.


Continuing the discussion from Question For Bouncers:

Old thread with some good stuff.


Do you guys need any kind of qualification to work as a bouncer in your country? In Finland we need to take a course that lasts a couple of weekends to go through some legal stuff, rights, responsibilities etc. and some use of force. You also need to go through a course if you want to carry an oc spray at work.

I’ve worked as a bouncer for 3 years soon and I’m 100% with Chris_Colucci. Be nice, polite and professional until it’s time to just be professional. I don’t know about the rest of the world but we have pretty damn strict guidelines when it comes to use of physical force on the job. Generally: wrestle, use takedowns, holds, locks to restrain, move or detain a person and you’re golden. Excessive and unnecessary use of force, mace or punching or kicking someone who doesn’t give a REALLY good reason for it will get you in deep shit.

Depending on what job you do on a given night, it’s 95% customer service, 4% kindly but firmly escorting someone out and 1% actually having to resort to physical force.