So your friend’s 21st birthday is here and the world of Uber surge charges and artisan cocktails are officially part of your playground. The only thing standing between you and your $11 ginger vodka soda is the door person who is hell-bent on preventing you from getting in, right?
Nobody — including bouncers — likes to play the bad guy. But after stumbling up to your fourth bar of the night, the person guarding the door is probably looking out for your best interests more than alcohol might lead you to believe.
“People think we’re something out of a movie,” says Cody Walker, a bouncer at Dallas’ Mister Rich on Henderson Avenue. “[They think] that we just show up, and we’re big, dumb, muscle-bound idiots that are just there to fight people at any given time.”
Maybe sometimes a bouncer does have to get a little aggressive, but it’s usually not without good reason. So what can you do to avoid the embarrassment of being tossed out or even banned from your favorite spot?
Have your ID ready. We’ve all been there — you wait in line only to reach the bouncer and realize you forgot your driver's license. The person working the door might be impressed by your creativity, but no, your comic-con photo badge paired with your health insurance card isn’t going to get you in.
When Kristin Wyly is working the door in Denton, she often finds it’s the person in the friend group who has something other than a driver's license who tries to pull one over on her.
“Don’t try to say, ‘Oh, I only have my waterpark [ID] from Somalia,’” she says. “If you know you’ve got the fucking weird ID, just ask me first instead of waiting until I’ve checked 15 other IDs.”
Hammered? Call for an Uber. For the same reason you don’t like dealing with antagonistically drunk people when you’re sober, neither do bouncers or the other reasonably right-minded club-goers inside. The person at the door is just preventing you from going inside and throwing that drink at your ex. You’ll thank them later.
“It’s not done to ruin your night,” Walker says. “It’s for the safety of everybody in the bar and safety of yourself.”
Life isn’t a movie. Don’t try to get away with pulling out every cliché quote that has been said thousands of times before. If you actually “know the owner,” chances are the bouncer already knows you. But don’t expect that they should already know you.
“If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard, ‘I have a black card, I’ll buy this place,’ I’d be a really, really rich man,” Walker says.
Don’t waste your time with empty threats, either. Your dad being a “lawyer” isn’t going to change anything if you’re being kicked out because you’re too drunk to string a sentence together.
“Nine times out of 10 we’re not even gonna call cops,” Walker says. “We’re gonna make sure you don’t get arrested. We’re gonna help you get a ride home.”
If there is a dress code, follow it. Because bouncers are the first point of contact, it’s easy to blame the person at the door for not letting you in based on what you’re wearing, but there’s a method to the madness. Glasses break in bars like clockwork, so flip-flops aren’t a safe bet. You might not be the type to carry your butterfly knife in your boot, but other people are. You can also just save yourself time and trouble by calling ahead to see what the dress code is.
“I had a dude pull out a big-ass footlong knife out of his boot,” Walker says. “I was like, ‘What are you going to do with that? We’re not huntin’ here!’”
Do not harass them. Maybe you think they’re looking right that night, but it doesn’t give you the right to touch the bouncer or be overtly flirtatious. After all, they are on the clock, and most of us wouldn’t appreciate getting hit on while at work.
“It’s crazy the stuff that people will say to you if you’re a woman,” Wyly says. “I have a lot of guys try to flirt with me to sweet talk their way in. It’s so weird.”
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No matter what you do for a living, there’s nothing as unattractive for a bouncer as dehumanizing them.
“I’ve heard, ‘I make more in a day than you make in a week,’” Walker says. “Or, ‘You probably couldn’t get a job anywhere else’ so many times.”
Believe it or not, at the end of the day (or night, as the case may be), whoever is working the door does want you and your bachelor/bachelorette party to have a good time. But they have bigger things to worry about — like keeping their jobs.
“We want to give you that experience, we want to give you that time where you’re out and it’s like, ‘Man, I really do feel like I’m in Vegas or an upscale nightclub,’” Walker says. “But you have to be patient.”