Security is no job for violent thugs

This latest incident is but further demonstration of just how perilous it is, for such a serious profession as ‘security’  to be run with (almost) no regulatory framework, and often by violent thugs

I shall have to confess that I was too much of a wimp to click the ‘Play’ button on that Youtube clip, in which a young man is seen beaten to a pulp by five bouncers in Paceville.

I myself find this strange, as – though I am not exactly a ‘fan’ of violence on TV or in movies – I have been exposed to so much of it over the years, that you’d think my stomach-lining would be made of sterner stuff.

And indeed it is, when dealing with violence in fiction. All those Mario Brava/Dario Argento horror flicks I was brought up on must have paid off in the end: though it took me a while, I did eventually work out that… hey, that’s all just tomato ketchup. (Except maybe that projectile green puke that Linda Blair expectorates all over Max Von Sydow in ‘The Exorcist’. That was probably canned pea-soup….)

Either way: it’s all fake, and we all know it. Just like a child seeing through that magician’s trick for the first time – after which, the same trick will forever lose its power to deceive – the recognition of artifice brings with it an in-built resistance to revulsion.

Today, I’ll watch the bloodiest of bloody gorefests on TV, and my only reaction would be to try and work out how the special effects were achieved in practice (which, it must be said, was a lot more fun back in the old days: you know, when the ‘dinosaurs’ that roamed the movies were actually miniature models filmed using a technique called ‘stop-motion animation’… and not just digitally generated using software like ‘Adobe After Effects’…).

Sorry, that was the movie-director in my head, gently reminding me that there was actually a point in my writing this today… and it wasn’t to muse out loud about the evolution of special effects in the motion picture industry.

No, it was about violence in Paceville. That other video I was too squeamish to watch? There was nothing fake about it all. And I know, because the following description could also refer to any of around a hundred similar situations I have witnessed in Paceville with my own eyes (only around 20 years ago or more):

“Footage published by TVM shows the youth pointing his phone in the direction of the bouncers, apparently filming them. A bouncer then rushes towards the youth, knocks the phone out of his hand and pushes him to the ground. With the man down, four other bouncers then join their colleague, taking it in turns to kick him, including in his head…”

Admittedly, the cause of most fights I have seen was usually different. There were, after all, no mobile phones to film bouncers with back then. But the escalation of violence… the participation of other bouncers (sometimes from other establishments, all the way down the street…) it was nearly always a variation of the same pattern.

But like I said: my memory stretches back to the days of the Friday Night Beach Parties at Styx II Discotheque – which often later became ‘Saturday Morning Street Punch-Ups’ – and the sporadic outbursts of street violence in the ‘gauntlet’ between where Footloose used to be, and where Havana still is today.

In other words, the same street where that video was filmed.

This also means that… evidently, not much has changed since the Reign of Chaos that was Paceville 30 years ago or more. At least, not in this department.

Paceville has changed a lot in other ways, however. It’s a heck of a lot cleaner than I ever remember it, for starters. To give one example: the narrow flight of stairs connecting lower St George’s Street with Dragonara Road – now chock-full of bars, gentlemen’s clubs, eateries, and…  um… more gentleman’s clubs – well, that used to a public latrine.

It’s where we all went to empty our bladders in between copious pints of beer (unsurprisingly, seeing as the only other alternative was to actually pee in a bar toilet… and trust me, you did NOT want to do that. Under no circumstances, ever…) Well, you can imagine the result: the urinary equivalent of the Niagara Falls, emptying itself nightly into a gushing river of piss and puke below...

Honestly, how can you not get all mushy and nostalgic when remembering the good old days? But let me not digress a second time. The point is that, while the neighbourhood of Paceville has undeniably improved in many ways… it remains blighted with the same disease that had often made it a dangerous (possibly fatal) place to go.

This latest incident is but further demonstration of just how perilous it is, for such a serious profession as ‘security’  to be run with (almost) no regulatory framework, and often by violent thugs.

This brings me to another experience involving nightlife security: this time, in a nightclub in Cardiff, Wales (called Canteloupe on Queen’s Avenue, if you must know) around 15 years ago.

The incident unfolded literally a couple of feet from where I was sitting… and rapidly developed into a confrontation between a very intoxicated, VERY obnoxious man… and a bouncer who could easily have been a front-row forward for the Welsh national rugby team.

As I remember it, the man heatedly argued that the nightclub was obliged to provide free water for people who (like himself) were high as kites on ecstasy… and therefore expected the bouncer to pay for his Evian bottle out of his own pocket.

The bouncer naturally refused – amicably, at first – and the man responded by calling him every under name under the sun… only to eventually empty the contents of that Evian bottle into his face.

And I sat there, watching all this, thinking to myself…  if we were back in the good old Styx days… there’d probably be no shit left at all in this guy, long before he actually threw the water. It would all have been kicked out of him by every bouncer from every bar or club within a half-mile radius. All that would remain of his human form would be his translucent epidermis, slowly deflating into nothing on the blood-soaked dance-floor…

But no. The bouncer’s rising impatience was very visible… as was the way he occasionally flexed his biceps, in preparation for that punch he would so dearly have loved to throw. But he never threw it. Not once did he lose his cool, or react to the provocation with any violence whatsoever (like I said, he would have made – and very probably did – an excellent rugby player).

It was only after that final affront that the bouncer even made physical contact with his adversary at all… and it was to suddenly grab the man by both arms, spin him round to face forward, and literary march him out of the establishment.

He did it forcibly, I’ll grant you. But there were no punches; no flying kicks to the head; no broken bottles (except maybe one or two accidentally up-ended by a flailing limb)… and above all, no blood on the floor afterwards.

Oh, and the bouncer was back inside within a minute of the eviction… so nothing could have happened out in the street, either.

OK, to be fair I have witnessed similar moments of restraint, shown by bouncers in similarly nerve-testing circumstances, here in Malta too.

But what struck me about that Cardiff experience was that it all seemed so much… better organised.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if that bouncer had received professional training on how to deal with precisely that kind of situation. Or, for that matter, whether it was the nightclub’s policy to provide in-house training to its security staff… or whether Welsh law demands certain standards of behaviour from nightclub security across the board: starting, perhaps, with a screening process at employment stage.

It could, of course, be none of the above. Heck, for all I know I might have witnessed a rare, never-to-repeated spectacle: the only decent bouncer in Wales, controlling himself where every other Welsh bouncer would have beaten the living crap out of that guy…

Whatever the case, however: I would say it was a demonstration of how this kind of security should be provided, in the nightlife capital of any civilised society. And until a few years ago, there was even talk of a new regulatory framework for bouncers.

At present, there is a licensing system in place; and there seems to be occasional enforcement efforts, too. (In 2016, for instance, 20 unlicensed bouncers were apprehended in a single raid). So, while there may indeed be room to discuss adding additional precautionary tiers… the focus has to turn to the nightclubs themselves: the employers of this particular category of Paceville employee.

What level of responsibility would a nightclub have to shoulder, anyway… if a customer is one day accidentally killed – or permanently disabled – during a beating by multiple members of its own staff?

Just as I started this article with a confession, I’ll end with another. I don’t know. But I do think it’s high time we made an effort to elevate the standards of Paceville nightlife security, to at least resemble something that can be described as ‘civilised’.

I mean… we did it with the rivers of piss and puke, didn’t we? Surely we can do it with this shit, too.

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