Monday, July 24, 2006

I just can't

On Saturday night, I finally figured out what bouncing is all about. Finally unraveled the whole rancid ball of yarn -- rancid, because the ball is like one of those tackified wax-coated strands that leave a film on your fingers, and the film smells like feces. I've been working on this problem for years, stripping away all the layers of bullshit surrounding the heart of this business, and what I found is that the "secret" definition of the job really isn't much of a secret at all.

You stand there, night after night, and you say "no." All you do is say no, until someone folds up a twenty, hands it to you, and compels you to say "yes." So if they pay, it's yes. If they don't, it's no. Those who know the game will pay. Those who don't, won't. Those who don't will stand there and try to convince you that it's in your best interests to say yes, failing to understand that you're nothing but a mercenary, and that there isn't any "nice guy factor" or "common decency factor" in play at nightclubs.

Why do we ever say no? We say no because there's always the possibility of making some money if the person to whom we've said no wants badly enough to alter the course of his evening. We say no because we have authority, backed by manpower, and if you think you can forcibly obtain that elusive yes, you're courting problems. Serious ones.

Most importantly, however, we say no because we're not permitted to say yes. We're functionaries, on the very low end of a hierarchical scale that regards us as expendable. And when management tells me not to let anyone through "X" door without "Y" qualification, I can't override their edicts no matter how many times you ask me to "do you a fay-va" and "hook a n---a up."

This leads us to what I consider the true essence of bouncing. When you do this job, you're given a set of rules. Some of these rules are things we're entrusted to enforce, like not letting certain people into the club, for example, or not permitting customers to walk outside with drinks. The rest of these rules apply to the staff, and involve our specific job performance: Stay in your spot. Don't wander around. Don't get drunk while you're on the clock. And so on.

Armed with this set of rules, you get up on your box and you "bounce." You think you're going to stand there and watch the crowd and look at womens' asses for six hours, but that's not ever how it progresses. Not hardly, because what you'll find is that the crowd is there not to drink and dance and have a good time, but to test you. Specifically you, because that's how bouncing works.

All this fucking job entails is an endless procession of people asking you to let them do things they're not supposed to be doing. Things that can get you fired. Illegal things. Immoral things. And you if you have the temerity to actually do your job the way your employers expect you to do it -- the way they're paying you to -- you're the bad guy. You're the asshole, and now you're going to have to stand there and explain to some drunken, drug-addled jackass why it's a bad idea for you to let him sit in the VIP and smoke weed. Or why you'd like him to put his penis away and stop masturbating to the girls dancing on the stage.

All part of the game, my friend. In fact, it is the game. All night, you'll have customers -- most of whom, disturbingly, have Eastern European accents -- asking you to risk your job for them.

"Can I see some ID please?"

"Why," she'll ask, "do you need that?"

"Because," I'll reply, looking at her license, "you're nineteen and you can't come in."

"Why not?"

"Because if I let you in, and someone finds out that I let you in, I'll lose my job."

They always say the same thing: "Can't you just let me in?"

Can't you just, can't you just, can't you just? Can't you just let us in after last call? Our friends are inside! Can't you just stamp me? I'll hook you up next week! Can't you just let me in the VIP? My "boys" are down there! Can't you just let me back in? I wasn't even involved! Can't you just slide me some drink tickets? I know Carmine!

Can't you just go home to Long Island and fuck yourselves?