Pasquale, or as we knew him then, ‘Squale, worked the door at a place my wife bartended when she was finishing her degree. The bar had a duel focus–up until 10pm it was a local neighborhood joint famous for chicken wings and cold beer. Later, it became a  college bar.

Anyway, what does a bouncer need to know and do?

You see what I mean?

That depends on the kind of joint. For a neighborhood place he needs to be friendly, check IDs and occasionally let someone know that they need to yell a little quieter, use less profanity or stop talking to the girl who turned her back two hours previous.

For the college bar they need to do all of the above but they also have to be prepared for beer-muscled youngsters whose bodies are producing too much testosterone. They need to be able to clear a fight quickly, get the offenders out and do so without leaving any marks. They have to protect the other staff and keep some level of decorum.

How do the good ones do it?

‘Squale was one of the best. He was big and looked menacing. To the regulars he was a pussy cat. A Sinatra fan who starred in his High School production of Guys and Dolls and He occasionally dressed the part while watching the door. He was exceedingly well read, passionate about the right things and added color to the place.

That’s about all that was needed during the day.

Well, that and maybe that one or two percent thing about him that suggested he might be crazy. Not that he’d go crazy on you but that if given the opportunity he might go nuts on someone who deserved it. You got the impression that he might enjoy himself should that opportunity present itself. Or even that he might even be craving for the chance for that to unfold.

In the evening the kids need to see and feel something else. ‘Squale’s sullen, no eye contact way of greeting college kids at the door, checking their IDs and ushering them in left them wondering what he was capable of.

Er, I guess I should’ve mentioned he gave that off to the guys. The co-eds got the smile, the literate quip and the warm welcome.

Hey, that’s part of the bouncer benefit package.

Bouncing is a lot about image, vibe and potential. You also have to be able to pull it off when the shit goes down. When it goes down you need to calm effecieent and in the middle of things. It’s a craft, an art form as much as its a job and its practiced by too many posers looking for the rep without earning it.

‘Squale was one of the best.