Once, at one of the clubs I worked, I ran an experiment. At this particular club – long since closed, remodeled and opened under another name – everything had already started going to shit, and nobody gave a flying fuck what anyone else was doing unless it cut into the remaining cash stream. The remaining cash stream was already well-defined and channeled where it needed to be channeled, so the only way you could make waves in this shithole was to try and tap into that flow if you weren’t on the approved list.
In other words, we did whatever we wanted, and nobody gave a shit so long as they went home with their minimum.
My experiment was simple. I took four stanchions and four strands of velvet rope, and I made a square in the middle of one of the VIP sections. Inside this square, I put one of those club-cube end tables. On the club-cube end table, I placed a lit candle. I posted a bouncer on each side of the square. They were instructed to not, under any circumstances, let anyone inside the square.
Since I was “in charge” of this VIP section – I stood at the door, which ostensibly made me the senior bouncer in the area – the regulars knew who I was. Every ten minutes or so, I made a point of stepping through the ropes to the inside of the square. I would make a show of inspecting the table and the candle, then I’d pretend to make radio calls. After that, I would tap a bouncer on the shoulder, point to the inside of the square, and say, “Nod your head at me so these fucking morons will think I just told you something important.”
First, people started asking questions. I expected this. Then, when the liquor and the drugs began kicking in, they started asking to get inside the square. After an hour or so of this came the first attempts to breech the perimeter. The bouncers I’d posted at the ropes were in on the experiment, so they were willing to endure this for me. Nobody got in.
Next came tension. People asked us if we knew who they were. They asked for “favors.” They dropped names. They told us we’d lose our jobs if we didn’t let them in. One told me to go get a “real job.”
Finally, a bouncer named Joe held up a twenty dollar bill. He was declared the winner, and the experiment came to a close.