The anonymous bouncer getting ready for a shiftVarsity

When our anonymous hero got his first job as a newly-qualified bouncer, he was thrown in at the deep end. His older brother, also a doorman, got him into the job at a pub in his hometown. He had a knife pulled on him on his first night.

So why did he decide to start – and continue – working as a bouncer?

“I was 18 and if I wanted a job, where else is going to pay me £10 an hour? No other job will pay you more than £6 an hour at 18. The shifts elsewhere are long and it’s hard work. I didn’t want that. I thought: I’m not going to get paid better anywhere else so I might as well do this. Secondly, my brother had done it and loads of people in my family had done security.”

The student works weekends at several Cambridge clubs. When asked about how he balances work with his degree, he said that his favourite way to work is to go to a bar, get a bottle of wine and sit there until his essay is done.

According to University policy, students are expected not to work during term-time. When asked what he thinks about Cambridge’s ‘no jobs policy’ he called it “ridiculous”, “classist” and “awful”.

He shared that to become a bouncer he had to take a five-day course which included fire safety training, health and safety regulations, learning how to restrain people and how to take care of people who are drunk. On the sixth day he had to take a series of multiple choice exams. He also said you have to be qualified in first aid. Once you finish the course and pass your exam (and pay a total of £500: £300 for the course and £200 for the licence itself) you get your licence which you have to renew after 3-4 years. However, he said that “like in any other job, you only really learn once you start.”

I asked him about the responsibilities that a bouncer has. “The main thing is everyone’s welfare. If someone is thrown out for being too drunk, it’s not because we’re being horrible, it’s because if they hurt themselves inside the venue because they are drunk, it affects insurance and things like that. If someone’s drunk and they want to get into a fight, they’re gonna hurt other people. We take them out for not only their safety but everyone else’s safety in there as well.”

A big aspect of the job, he said, is taking care. “If someone is throwing up on the floor. If a girl comes in saying she doesn’t know where she is, she’s lost or something, you bring her in, just mak[ing] sure she’s safe is the main thing.”


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He said that recently a lot more female bouncers have come into the business and he thinks it’s “brilliant.”

On the responsibilities of a bouncer he also mentioned that: “The one thing that people don’t understand is that your first role is about customer service. It’s talking to people. [...] It’s not about being big and knowing how to fight. You need to talk to people, make sure that if somebody is going to go off, you can talk someone down, you can be nice, you can explain things to people. Explaining things to drunk people is very, very difficult, so you’ve got to be good at that.”

On a less serious note, I asked what he thought about the Cambridge nightlife scene. “In comparison to any major city, the nightlife here is quite dreadful”. However, he admitted he's “not really a club man; I’m a pub man.”