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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ticking over

One of the places I have the joy of working has seen a serious decline in numbers. Really over the past 12 months this has been going on. Part credit crunch, part decline in the number of people in the venue's target market, in this case the top end of the socially immobile.
We've not been getting the crazy nights when it's just a continuous conveyor belt of drunks to the door. The student nights packed to the gills still take place but once a term rather than once a week. The result of our diminished door and related bar spend is a serious pressure to reduce fixed costs. This pressure translates into being open fewer nights, this obviously means less nights when I can work there. The pressure to save also means less glass collectors and bar staff, this means when things get busy, the bars can't cope, the floor gets messy, broken glass and spilled drinks accumulate.
The worst consequence of this short sighted thrift however is the reduction in doorstaff levels on any given night. The punters are fewer, they're not miraculously better behaved. We're professional, we don't have jacket fillers, we can all do the job well, each in our own way but we can do it all well. When the door numbers are cut down and we get away with two or three weeks and no bother the change is cemented. Give it a few more weeks and maybe we drop another one. Our workload increases and we push harder but nothing goes wrong. So we go from a light mid-week team to two down on that. The money is saved, a few lads are out a few shifts but the businesses wage bill drops and all is good in the nightclub.
What we don't have is any spare capacity. We don't make widgets, we can't stock some up. We only work person to person and if two lads go at it we need a minimum of 4 staff to break it safely and get them out of separate exits at different times. The observant will note that we also require at least one on the front door and most likely one on the cash desk to stop the revenue walking away with a punter.
This kind of situation is common, we handle it as well as we can. We don't make it look pretty and we take risks but the job gets done and it costs less than doing it right.
What it will take for the business case to change? Until one of us or a punter gets it in their mind to sue for a lot of money they will not see a good business case for spending some money to save more money in the long run. Until they wake up to that we'll just keep ticking over, doing what we do, waiting for the sky to fall in.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Theres is not

to question why, there's is just to wheeze and die.
A very good blogger who's dealt with more of these than I will ever do has written more than a few posts on asthma. Maybe because I know about these and maybe because I've seen things go wrong really very quickly I get stressed with asthmatics.
When doing pat-down searches and handbag checks I get the feeling one in ten to one in twenty go out with an inhaler. Probably the same again don't bother to bring one when they maybe should. We have smoke machines, we have energetic dancing, we have high humidity all of which when taken in moderation shouldn't cause too many people too many breathing problems.
What we also have in most nightclub environments is emotionally stressful boyfriends, girlfriends, siblings and friends. We have legal and illegal drugs. We have alcohol and plenty of it, consumed over ever extended periods of time. This combination is enough to get us looking down at gasping punters, more worried and calling ambulances as three, four, ten puffs later they're still not slowing down and getting closer to passing out.
Other times its the kick out of adrenaline as they're boyfriends, girlfriends, siblings or friends fight with us or each other and they go from partying to wheezing in the time it takes to walk back from the nearest exit.
The speed at which they turn white and drop is scary considering how many they're could be in on even a quiet night. Thankfully they've had the decency not to turn pale and pass out inside for a while, they do that in the fresh air by front door where we can both keep an eye on them and not have to carry them far to the ambulance. The wheezing punter may not appreciate this but its a load easier than lugging a floppy punter out of a cubicle and down two flights from the top floor toilets on a busy night. That we try and save for the passed out drunks.

Monday, June 01, 2009


There's one lad I work with who's destined to bring chaos and confusion to a venue. The drunken muppets walking through exit only signs. Bar-staff muppets pressing the panic alarm when they run out of ice. The noisy dark understaffed sweaty, smoke filled pit of a nightclub is bad enough as it is. Getting enough people to the right location at the right time is hard enough.
When you've gotten a walking catastrophe working with you it only gets more difficult. When he's not sailing down a flight of stairs with half an armful of punter helping him to loose the battle with gravity, he's called the fight in the wrong room and wonders why we're all running away from him only to charge back on mass thirty seconds later. This benny-hill like effort does not go unnoticed and by the time we've cleared up the inevitably bigger mess than we should have if we'd have gotten there earlier.
The lad isn't comically stupid, impaired in any significant way or otherwise handicapped. He's just prone to disaster. He'll be the one who's shirt gets ripped, bloodied or vomit covered while everyone else just gets their boots thrown up on. He's the one who catches the punch with his face when it was aimed by a drunken fool at the bloke next to him's nuts. He'll be helping the 25 stone drunken hen night girl outside when she blacks out and pins him against the front desk with her bulk. He means no malice and provides an awful lot of humour for the rest of us as we hear his trousers rip as he bends to pick up a coin or as he slides his way out from under the large lady and gets his radio piece tangled around her bra strap and end up looking like a late snack on a leash.