For a while there I would do anything for experience. Some times I would go to great lengths to see if I really had what it takes and to push my martial arts training to the limits. Upon getting my Black Belt at 21, I soon found myself craving real life fighting experience. Not that I was violent or aggressive, I just needed to see how I would handle myself under pressure, see how I would react, see if my  training would survive in the street.

Now I am not the kind of person that goes around picking fights or even reacting aggressively when I am picked on so the next best option I thought was to get experience as a bouncer.

I have many fond memories of that time in my life, it really opened my eyes to one of the ugly sides of partying. It always amazed me how some one could be your best friend when they want to come into the club and after a couple of drinks turn into your mortal enemy and try to remove your mouth from your face simply because you ask them to stop annoying a fellow patron. Aggression and violence fuelled by booze and drugs put me at the coal face of learning about human nature and surviving in some pretty extreme situations. Anger had no predijice. Some of my busiest nights were working the Hens parties on a Friday night. Ladies would enjoy the male stripers until 11pm, then we would open the doors to the men to come in. I have been assaulted by more women than I can care to remember. I was regularly covered in someones drink….and I am proud to say I was always careful and diplomatic and remained cool.

With a little savvy and experience,I started to learn who to let into the clubs and who not to. I generally tended to avoid stockbrokers and other suits that looked of the legal variety. I don’t know how many times I was threatened with, I will sue you, your family and your dog if you don’t let me into the club. I was the only bouncer on at a function for 100 stockbrokers…lovely gentlemen, just hated and I mean hated being told what to do….”sir the club closed an hour ago, it’s time to leave.” kind of thing…then having to fight for my life….by that stage of the night most were just pushing and shoving and all talk…in fact what I found was, the louder the voice the smaller the ticker…and very few men really knew how to handle themselves let alone throw a decent punch.

Funny thing was, most of the other bouncers that I worked with were all talk as well. I will never forget Gavin’s first night on the door. Nice guy, good talker and remained cool. All that was great but you also needed someone that was going to watch your back if the heat was on. I was not sure about Gav, a high level Ninjutsu please I have nothing against our Ninja brothers and sisters…but I did not want him to disappear in a puff of smoke if the brawl was on. Gav did not last long, he took a swinging right hand and forgot the most basic of basic self defence moves…”keep your guard up!”  Sometimes, it was the other bouncers that I had to protect myself against, or rather protect myself against their stupidity.

One particular night I was taking the usual heat on the door when it got very ugly quickly.  One drunk came launching into me and I was just about to defend myself when 2 strong arms wrapped around me from behind into a vice like bear hug and dragged me back yelling at me not to fight. So I was coping a flogging from the front by this drunk because the idiot bouncer was stopping me from defending myself, needless to say I was not too keen to work with him again.

Some nights were easy, nice and polite, other nights were just war on the door. Many people would take it personally when they were denied entry because of their sad alcohol induced aggressive stupor. Many times my poor car got worked over because the drunk was too scared to confront the doorman, or they would drive by and glare at you from a distance, or the best was the threat that they are coming back with all their cousins, to take on one usually cold and bored doorman that could not really give a damn how many brother or cousins they were bringing back cause I would just lock them out and call the cops.

Working for night clubs the lines were always blurred. Who and where were the good guys. The manager of the club would get up me for letting in a couple of well dressed transvestites yet he would then usher through a couple of drug dealers packing weapons. I remember asking one well dressed thug drug one night to show me his member pass and he pulled back his coat to show me his glock hand gun, I looked up and the manager quickly stepped in…”he’s okay” he said.

Like I said the lessons were a real eye opener. Working nightclubs was a great insight into into the seedy side of people and the seedy side of Sydney. But it wasn’t enough for me. I would soon leave the club and venture into the dark side even further in an effort to find the challenge that I was looking for…..

Andy Dickinson

Tuesday was the biggest night of the week, Robert  (far left)  and Paul (bottom left )I usually worked the doors together. I could trust him and Paul to watch my back…


  1. Mike Bennett on May 20, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Great read Andy, I did the doors at Soho, The Underground and Sugareef throughout the 90’s in Kings Cross and can totally relate to this.

    Always being the smaller guy on the door, I learnt very quickly to keep my guard up. Particularly after being king hit from the side by a drunken 5 foot Englishman… That one took me a while to live down.

    However it was a wonderful and interesting time in my life for which I would never change.

  2. Jack on May 21, 2010 at 8:12 am

    This is an amazing insight into what bouncers have to put up with. People can be just dreadful, arrogant and pig headed. The challenge is keeping your cool, which you did a pretty good job. It’s also a little scary but I’m glad to have read this interesting true story.

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