The mid 1980s in Sydney and the happening music venue in the inner city area was the Trade Union Club in Foveaux Street – a popular hangout for punters, musicians and those dispensing illicit substances. The story is apocryphal but legend has it Nick Cave was sometimes spotted there pumping his spare coin through the Aztec Gold poker machine. The club had a reputation for hard late night binging, loud indie music and audiences that knew how to let loose. Keeping the law and order was a burly group of bouncers, a number of whom were notorious for their less than gentle handling of miscreant music fans.
Most famous amongst them was the towering frame of John Kawczynski, better known as ‘Animal’ – a ‘security guy’ who would not have been out of place on the mat in World Championship Wrestling. Jovial by nature, Animal was one of the club’s first and last lines of defence, a meeter and greeter of its many young patrons, but also a formidable enforcer of anybody who chose to breach the peace.
These were the days before ubiquitous CTV and unruly punters were often exited with more than just an arm behind their back or a kick up the bum. Again the story is apocryphal but Trade Union Club bouncers are alleged to have pursued one unfortunate ejectee all the way down to the old Legion Cab base where a heavy duty dose of the biff was arbitrarily applied.
In recent years the bouncing fraternity has come under regular scrutiny in the Sydney CBD and surrounds with numerous unsavoury incidents. In some cases the bouncers themselves have come off second best and been seriously assaulted, but mostly it’s punters who have been the targets of unwarranted violence. Once the domain of outlaw bikie gangs and steroid charged strongmen, the security industry has supposedly been cleaned up with increased government regulations and the scrutiny of licence holders.
Nevertheless there is something very unwelcoming and foreboding about the sight of two or three muscle bound big boys strutting their machismo outside a club or pub these days as they screen the incoming patrons. Whilst some venues are compelled to employ bouncers by licensing laws, others manage to do without them completely. Admittedly the latter tend to attract a more gentile kind of audience as opposed to the hardcore rock and nightclub venues where alcohol is consumed at a far more furious rate.
Maybe if bouncers were dissuaded from wearing tight fitting black t-shirts and the words SECURITY often emblazoned across their back, their welcome would be less intimidating. Give them a bit of class and make them wear suits or at the very least a big yellow smiley face on their bulging black attire. The even more assuring words STEROID FREE could then replace the more obvious ‘security’.
Currently an almost exclusively male domain there is no reason why women could not adopt the current security roles and bring a far calmer vibe to checking IDs and turning away the intoxicated. There’s good reason to believe their mere presence would result in less argy bargy and if they were confronted by aggressive and potentially violent male patrons they could be well trained in the martial arts and prepared to kick butt. If physical superiority was a question, then maybe a mix of male and female – i.e. brains and brawn with smiley faces all round.