Of night clubs and the dark side: Murder in Chandigarh puts spotlight on life of bouncers
A bouncer’s murder puts the spotlight on the trade. With weekend parties becoming a way of life in the tricity, bouncers have become a ubiquitous part of clubs and other watering holes, preventing violent arguments, fights, and rowdy scenes in the middle of revelry.punjab Updated: May 15, 2017 16:44 IST
It is 10pm on Friday evening in Chandigarh’s Elante Mall. As the crowd warms up to a fun weekend, Danish, a bouncer stationed at the entry of a night club, is at his vigilant best, closely scrutinising the guests before allowing them entry. Stags are almost always turned back.
“Sometime I do allow single men but only after making sure they don’t ruin the party atmosphere,” says Danish. A bouncer’s duty is to provide security, check the legal age of guests, refuse entry to intoxicated persons, and deal with the aggressive behaviour of guests.
“It’s hard to get guests to leave a party when they really want to stay... The key is to stay calm and use managerial skills along with muscle.”
With weekend parties becoming a way of life in the tricity, bouncers have become a ubiquitous part of clubs and other watering holes, preventing violent arguments, fights, and rowdy scenes in the middle of revelry.
But the murder of a bouncer, Amit Sharma aka Meet, reveals the irony of their profession. The so-called doormen often turn victims of their own muscle power and drift to the wrong side of law.
Brawn over brain
In bouncer Suresh Kumar’s view, their biggest challenge is to maintain a peaceful atmosphere and control the overcharged crowd inside bars and nightclubs.
But bouncers are not always as composed as their job demands. In 2015, a group of bouncers deputed at a private club in Chandigarh entered into a scuffle with rowdy guests over smoking inside the bar, which resulted in guests opening fire on them.
Insiders say petty fights often occur in such places.
Sarbjot Singh aka Honey, who supplies bouncers to several clubs, says such incidents can be avoided with the right application of mind. But those in this industry tend to control the crowds through their brawn than brains, which alone is seldom adequate to cool down tempers powered by an overdose of liquor.
“It’s hard to get guests to leave a party when they really want to stay. And when they have too much to drink, they get aggressive as well. The key is to stay calm and use managerial skills along with muscle,” says Sarbjot.
- In many countries, governments have taken steps to professionalise the industry by requiring bouncers to get training and licensing, besides subjecting them to criminal records background check. But no such initiatives have been taken here.
- Most of the groups that supply bouncers in the tricity are informal setups by people within the industry. They have close connections with politicians and other influential businessmen.
- The number of bouncers in circulation on weekends is around 200. Most of them are picked up from health clubs and gyms. The deployment has lately suffered due to the Supreme Court ban on serving liquor in bars operating within 500 metres of a national highway.
But recruitment of quality bouncers is a problem in the industry. It is largely because it is not a full-time job and firms that supply these bouncers are informal groups formed by bouncers themselves with no regulatory body to oversee them.
The bouncers are recruited mostly from health clubs and sent on duty as door supervisors at clubs.
Though initially driven by the glamour quotient and easy pocket money, they tend to drift towards the other side of law due to the nature of their business.
A bouncer, seeking anonymity, said the one quality they possess in abundance is muscle power.
Many a time, wealthy businessmen and politicians also employ them for flexing their muscles, and this muddies their professional life.
“They are just trying to get through the night and should not be portrayed negatively.”
But Gurpreet Singh, a bouncer for last many years and currently deployed at Elante Mall, is quick to add that not all bouncers stray. “I know many who earn a clean livelihood and know their job well. They are just trying to get through the night and should not be portrayed negatively,” he asserts.
The internal conflicts between various bouncers are the bane of this industry. As Jitender, a long-time bouncer, explains, “There are business rivalries in every profession, but we often fall prey to ego tussles because we tend to get a kick out of our muscle power. These ego tussles plague the entire industry.”
Amit Sharma, who was shot dead last week, had a running feud with Surjeet Singh, the alleged accused in his murder. Both had an equal number of bouncers in their firms but could not stand each other.
Meet’s murder, said bouncer Danish, is a setback for the entire industry. “The other day, when I tried to politely ask a rowdy guest to leave the premises, he threatened to kill me like Meet,” he recounts.
Regulate the regulators
Pali Sharma, party manager of a club in Sector 17, says there is a need of regulating the firms supplying bouncers in light of their growing internecine conflicts.
He says the police and local administration must ensure proper registration of the firms providing bouncers to clubs along with regular police verification.
“With club culture a permanent part of city life, there is no alternative to bouncers to control crowds both inside and outside the parties.”
There is also a demand that the bouncers be imparted professional training by the police and agencies in the business of crowd control to avoid any major law and order problem.
“With club culture a permanent part of city life, there is no alternative to bouncers to control crowds both inside and outside the parties. This make it vital to have a proper party manual for all stakeholders, including bouncers, organisers, party-goers and even police to ensure that people enjoy their evening outings in a
safe environment,” said another club manager, who requested anonymity.