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Bouncers Are Being Sent to Etiquette School to Learn to Stay Zen at the Door

The Hospitality Security Training school is open for business.
May 27, 2016, 7:13pm
Photo by Franz P via Flickr

What's the scariest part of a club? Some people might say the bouncer—the stacked dudes or brawny women who decide whether you can come into their establishment or not, and whether you can stay there. Bouncers are intimidating because they are supposed to be authoritative, to keep a club running smoothly in case one of its patrons goes off the handle. But sometimes it's the bouncers who lose their cool. Watching one knock the bejesus out of a unruly drunk is not an uncommon sight—something that happened at the London club Madame Jojo's in 2014 when bouncers allegedly attacked patrons with baseball bats.


But now, according to the Wall Street Journal, an establishment in Monterey, California is training bouncers learn to keep calm when situations go awry. The Hospitality Security Training school in Monetary is the brainchild of former police officer Robert Smith who realized the potential for a bouncer "etiquette" school when, after responding to a bouncer's call, Smith ended up having to arrest him for knocking out a belligerent customer.

As the WSJ reported, inspiration for the school is Patrick Swayze's "tough-but-tender" bouncer character in the 1989 cult classic, Road House and lists rules to live by, including "persuade" a patron out of the club, "strive never to go hands on," and simply "be nice." Smith's training includes picking battles, respecting gender choices when it comes to bathrooms, watching out for dangerous items (including stilettos) and learning to quell dangerous situations. "Don't be afraid to wrap someone up," Smith said, referring to holding people down.

It turns out that the bouncers are just as weary of the patrons: "Sometimes I come to work and feel like, 'Damn, I'm an adult baby sitter,' " said 28-year-old Eddie Zammarchi."You're trying to be kind, but it's so hard," said another student. "You try to be a Zen monk." Another student, a 6'1", 270-pound guy by the name of Corey Primus, said: "Before, it was 'try not to get stabbed and whoop his ass."

One recent graduate described how he had learned to "let it roll off" after a customer berated him for wearing a Make America Great Again hat.

The efforts seem to be working. According to the article, a Washington DC strip club called the The Cloakroom who had put its bouncers through the school four years ago has seen a 70% drop in its security staff using force.

Of course, bouncers could also take a cue from the infamous Berghain bouncer Sven Marquardt, who has built a reputation for intimidating people hoping to enter the club.