Bouncers, perhaps, are a necessarily aggressive bunch. Standing dutifully at venue doors, black suits barely hiding a substantial stature, it’s not difficult to see the relationship between punter and doorman as something of a battle. On the one hand, bouncers secure premises: if a fight breaks out, most suddenly have an entirely more positive feeling about their presence. If you’re on the wrong side of things, though, a reputation as ‘not the sharpest tool in the box’ combined with a shove in the wrong direction soon has the men in black cast as the bad guys. In the past couple of months, events in our two largest cities have fuelled this anger, leading to calls for legal action and sizable Internet campaigns.

A disabled punter recently at Rain, Belfast alleges that a member of the nightclub’s staff refused him access to the club to avoid “carrying a wheelchair up the stairs”. Soon, local newspapers and a Facebook protest group of 12,000 promising legal action rose up in support. Later, the group disappeared. The implication is a nasty one, but the club – bafflingly unwilling to release a public statement – seem to see things differently in private. A member of Rain’s staff anonymously informed us that the event described isn’t logical, as going upstairs wouldn’t be an issue on entry. While this remains an unofficial stance, whispers on the Internet – combined with the deletion of the group – suggest a case of ‘crying wolf’. One commenter even claims to have seen the incident, and that the punter’s friend caused the rejection. It’s impossible for AU to play judge, jury and executioner, but we can’t help wondering if the bad press Rain received as a result might have been a touch unfair.

Events in The P.O.D complex in Dublin have caused similar consternation down south. The group ‘Bands Against Crawdaddy’ formed after violence marred local band Home Star Runner’s final show in September. Numerous punters allege that Crawdaddy’s bouncers punched the girlfriend of a band member, leading to a street fight that amounted to “uniformed thuggery”; one member of Home Star Runner ended up in a cell. Half a dozen YouTube videos are inconclusive when it comes to blame, but certainly show a volatile, violent atmosphere outside the show. As a result, a number of Dublin bands have vowed never to play the venue again.

P.O.D’s response states “we’ve watched the security footage and can categorically confirm that no females were struck or injured, and that security acted in a responsive manner to being physically attacked… to prevent the incident escalating further”. Sure, the punters are likely to have played a role, but it seems unlikely to us that security footage could provide “categorical” proof that an event didn’t take place. ‘Bands Against Crawdaddy’ contest, that The P.O.D’s statement is “a complete pack of lies”. The violence is undeniable, but outside of a court of law it’s difficult to even begin to assign responsibility.

While the punters in Dublin have witness numbers on their side, AU’s also aware that while the gig-goers had probably had a drink or five, the bouncers were sober and – as videos show – provoked by the time events spread outside the venue. The Belfast story is more clearcut: either a case of appalling discrimination or a one man’s bitter quest.

We can’t make snap judgments on these particular cases, but we can offer some advice. Prerequisite licenses tests by the Security Industry Authority (UK) and the Private Security Authority (Ireland) demand training in safety and crowd control, and exclude anyone with serious convictions. If you do encounter problems, a combination of reliable eyewitnesses and the badge ID number displayed should be enough report or take legal action.

It’s in bouncers’ interests to keep things calm: the comeback from any events could have far more serious consequences for them than you. As fallible people working in a highly volatile environment, door staff don’t always get things right, but it pays to remember that one bouncer is not the next. Overall, despite any bad experiences you may have had over the years, the professions probably saved you a lot of aggro.

As published in AU Magazine, December 2010, illustration by Mark Rahill.



  1. Can say I’ve never had any issues with the Crawdaddy guys, always found them good fun. Like you say, it’s in their interests to keep things calm but you do get the occasional prick bouncer. On the other hand, far more often you get packs of prick customers who’ll raise holy hell, act like shits to everyone and scream bloody murder when some things done about their behaviour. The footage from that Dublin gig showed a very hostile crowd completely out of control so I’d take the bouncers side on that one, they panicked. Then again, I wasn’t there but from experience – no problems on TT’s side.

  2. admin

    Personally I find the Crawdaddy bouncers to be quite stern, but they’ve never turned me away or given me any trouble aside from that, so no complaints from me. It was obviously very volatile in that video, I’d love to see what went on before hand – it’s really hard to know how much of a role the bouncers played in it kicking off. Like you, I wasn’t actually there, so this article was a little bit of detective work on behalf of AU, and it certainly didn’t result in anything 100% conclusive.

    In related news, Rain in Belfast has just had its entertainment license revoked for overcrowding. That doesn’t make them guilty of the above, too, of course, but they were caught three times with unsafe numbers, once more than 300 more than their legal allowance. No more DJs or live bands until the issue’s dealt with. They’ve not had a good few months, have they!

  3. Hi,

    I started the Bands Against Crawdaddy page. There are just a couple of things I’d like to mention. Firstly, I think it’s good that this is getting more widespread coverage. We can’t allow violence from anybody at gigs, or anywhere, that goes without saying. When somebody oversteps their mark from either side, there should be repercussions and accountability, this never seems to happen in the correct fashion. Sure, people get removed from clubs all the time for being out of order but I don’t think security staff ever have to step up from the protection of their employers, or the venue their employers have a contract with. Before anyone jumps in with the other side, I just want to be clear that I think anybody being violent towards a security guard should be tried for assault, like they would be in any other violent incident.

    Secondly, there is no official list of bands or people who have boycotted the POD complex and I have removed myself from the Facebook page as it was becoming a smear campaign against bouncers on the whole. This is not what I set out to do and it’s definitely not something I condone. Also, some people who were in support of the boycott and indeed who were there on that night have started returning to the club, making me look like a moron and completely removing any bit of leverage we may have had. I have not been back and will continue to avoid it without seeking the support of others.

    Thirdly, the band were called Home Star Runner!


  4. admin

    Hi Joe,

    Good to hear from you, I think we share pretty much the same perspective based on everything you’ve written above. I have changed the name of the band – I don’t know them, but I still should have got them right, sorry!

    I must admit I have been in Crawdaddy several times since the events, but like I said I’ve personally never had any problems there, and when they have bands like Freelance Whales (what a gig that was!) and Glasser (can’t wait) playing there, I’ll need something pretty conclusive to stop going! Fair play for standing up for what you believe in, though, good work,


  5. It’s no big thing really, but thank you, just missing some incredible acts is a little bit of a killer. I was aching to see Trentemoller soon after it happened! They do book really good acts!

  6. Can I just say that I was at that gig helping out bands. I was sober and can categorically state that the Crawdaddy bouncers are 100% in the wrong, and that they are nothing more than thuggish cretins.

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