STRANGLERS IN THE NIGHT, by John Johnston


Trouble in the nightclub business comes in many shapes and sizes. As Head Doorman, you should be looking for the best outcome for all involved. That’s not always possible; sometimes things go down the pan very rapidly indeed.

It has been a very busy Saturday night and there is a seven piece soul band as the main act. This is where the problem starts. I get an internal phone call at reception and I’m told that having finished their soul act, the band are drinking heavily. they’re in a locker room used by female bar staff. the band members have been messing about and being abusive to a couple of the girls. This room is in the back of the club, down a narrow dog legged corridor. It has no windows and is painted completely black as it is part of the roof space. I tell a couple of the lads to follow me; we make our way through the club  and up the back stairs. I have got Joe and Martin with me. Martin is a big lump of a bloke who I went to school with. He is a good man to have watching your back. Joe is a tall, thin Kung-Fu Instructor who is totally fearless. When we get to the locker room, we find the band members arguing amongst themselves. Three of them are very drunk and there are a couple of bottles of Southern Comfort being passed around. Two of the band members are trying to get the rest of them to come back to their own changing rooms and trying to calm things down, they were also trying to get them to behave but with no success.. We are all crammed into a small space with a lot of male testosterone at work. I manage to get four of the band members to cooperate and leave the locker room, that leaves three of them and three of us. They were very, very drunk, very argumentative and armed with two bottles of Southern Comfort. It doesn’t look good and suddenly gets worse when a knife appears from nowhere. Martin is standing in the doorway with me just in front of him. unfortunately Joe is in the back of the room. I tell Martin to go and get some help, as I push him out of the doorway I slammed the door closed and switched the light off. The room is in complete darkness. I’m crouching down listening to three drunks stumbling around. One of them backs up to me and I grab him around the throat. I have got a good grip on him and as he struggles he backs me to the wall. I have got a tight grip of him and I feel fairly safe and secure. Amongst many of the sounds I hear, I hear some thumps and it sounds like somebody is being hit and Joe is doing the hitting. suddenly the door flies open, the light goes on and Martin leaps into the room and grabs hold of an extremely confused drunk standing in the middle of the room alone. The guy I’m holding isn’t struggling anymore and the third is lying against the lockers holding his head. I look down to see a knife on the floor next to the guy I’m holding. He is completely still and blue which I thought was strange considering he was a black guy. He is making strange noises so I lye him in the recovery position. Meanwhile Joe is assisting Martin with the other guys which is a bit awkward with the shape and narrowness of the corridor. I collect the knife and bottles as the room is filling up, only this time with more bouncers. I later found out that Martin had told one of the barstaff to go and get help  and then he came back in on his own. It’s great to have a good team around you with people you can really trust and rely on.

Time to get things in order!

The guy I choked out is back on his feet along with the other band members and they are being escorted out of the building. There is a lot of protesting going on and a lot of name calling and general abusiveness, never the less they are leaving via the back stairs as we are telling them that if they do not behave we will be seizing their equipment and withholding payment. Nothing like a bit of incentive to ensure Peoples cooperation. It’s only when you look back at situations like that do you realise how lucky you are and having to make your judgement in an instant how easily things could go wrong. Was it a wise choice to switch off the light and stay in the room? The result speaks for itself but it could easily have been a different outcome.

There have only been tow occasions where I have had to disarm somebody with a knife, both times from behind, like on this occasion it happened by chance, on the other occasion I managed it by stealth, but that’s a story for another time.

Giveth life, take it away. This is my son I have got hold of

Giveth life, take it away. This is my son I have got hold of

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