Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Nightclub Bouncer

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Is your character a bouncer? Describe their security job correctly with the occupation thesaurus. Occupation: Nightclub Bouncer

Overview:  A bouncer is hired security for an establishment where alcohol is served. They have many different duties, including vetting patrons on entry to ensure they are of age and not intoxicated to the degree that they may be a danger to others or themselves. In addition to monitoring who enters the establishment, they watch for situations that could escalate as alcohol or drugs is added to the social environment: arguments that may escalate, physical altercations, unwanted advances that are turned down and the message to move on is ignored, unsafe conduct (climbing onto a stage when intoxicated, dancing on a speaker when it is against club rules, etc.), watching for movements and actions that could turn violent, patrons that become unruly or over-intoxicated, harassment of staff, and monitoring all areas within the club for safety. They also monitor for situations that could put the club at legal risk (illegal drugs being sold and consumed, people attempting to drink and drive, etc.)

A bouncer is typically very fit and imposing, and if necessary, will rely on the intimation factor to discourage situations from escalating that could put other patrons in danger. Physical interaction is used as a last resort to expel a customer when it becomes necessary to do so. Instead, quick wit, humor, and the ability to keep the situation as relaxed as possible by talking the situation out while steering the person to the exit are tools used to deescalate the situation. Reasoning with patrons that leaving is in their best interest to avoid involving the police and so they can get on with their night elsewhere where they will have more fun is the goal. If the situation escalates and becomes physical, or the bouncer, club employees, patrons, or the person being evicted themselves is in danger, then police will be called to take over the situation. 

What a bouncer can and cannot do to remove someone from the premises varies greatly depending on the laws of the state or province, so if you are writing a real-world bouncer, check into local laws. In most cases the bouncer has no more rights that an average citizen, and so rough handling and fights will rarely happen as this puts the bouncer and the establishment at risk for legal charges and being sued. They typically only engage physically to defend themselves, and only use reasonable force. Most will not carry a weapon, even if it is legal to do so. Their work attire may be casual (a t-shirt or collared shirt with the bar’s logo) or upscale (business suit) depending on the event and venue.

Necessary Training:

Training will vary depending on where the nightclub is located, but most bouncers do enter a training program so they better understand the scope of their work and learn techniques to spot problems before they start and how to deescalate and remove patrons in a safe and legal way for all involved. Bouncers may have to pass a drug test, have a background check, have a high school diploma, or other conditions in place depending on the venue’s location and hiring policies.

Bouncers may work a variety of venues: clubs, concerts, beer gardens, celebrity functions, special celebrations, strip clubs, invite-only private functions, casinos, restaurants, bars, etc. and their role may be tailored to suit the location and event.

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, basic first aid, blending in,  charm, empathy, enhanced hearing, enhanced sense of smell, ESP (clairvoyance), exceptional memory, gaining the trust of others, haggling, high pain tolerance, hospitality, lip-reading, making people laugh, reading people, self-defense, super strength, throwing one’s voice

Helpful Character Traits:

POSITIVE: Adaptable, alert, analytical, calm, cautious, centered, charming, confident, courageous, courteous, diplomatic, disciplined, discreet, easygoing, efficient, empathetic, observant, persistent, persuasive, proactive, professional, protective, responsible, sensible, tolerant, witty

NEGATIVE: evasive, humorless, impatient, inflexible, macho, suspicious, temperamental

Sources of Friction: underage patrons with fake IDs, party goes with drugs in their system that become aggressive and violent, someone drugging the drinks of others, drug dealers on the premises, a patron who smuggles in alcohol, drugs, or a weapon, fights between women when only male bouncers are present, bartenders or servers being threatened or hit on, pick-pocketing, not enough security working a big event, a patron throwing a punch and the bouncer using excessive force when defending oneself, sexual predators, people who are unsafely intoxicated who are abandoned by their friend group, rivals or ex-lovers running into one another, special venue inclusions that make the area more difficult to monitor (a beer garden added to the parking lot, private events, special celebrations with distracting decor that restrict visibility, celebrity guests and media in attendance, etc.).

People They Might Interact With: patrons, bartenders, management, liquor reps, celebrities, private security for celebrities and other important personalities, wait staff, cab drivers, police officers

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Esteem and Recognition: A character who was self-conscious of their physical condition may chose this career to reclaim their own sense of personal power.
  • Love and Belonging: A character who struggles socially or with dating may choose this job because the social atmosphere to gain insight on how to successfully interact with other people.

Common Work-Related Settings: bar, black-tie event, casino, medieval tavern (speculative), nightclub, police station

Twisting the Fictional Stereotype:

Not all bouncers are beefy, intimidating men. Women can also be bouncers and often can have a better success rate at talking down situations with both men and women because they are not as physically imposing. Some clubs will always have a female bouncer on staff to handle situations specifically to do with women, enter areas where women frequent (such as the bathroom), and to help calm down situations where egos and testosterone are at play.

Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.

About ANGELA ACKERMAN

Angela is an international speaker and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also enjoys dreaming up new tools and resources for One Stop For Writers, a library built to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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