More than meets the eye

John Hult

John Hult

Many bargoers think that the people who check their IDs at the bar are out to get them. A lot of people think that, beyond the checking of IDs, the bouncer’s job is to bust heads. A lot of people are wrong.

“We don’t want anybody to get in trouble,” Chevy’s manager and security man Jeremiah Champ said. “We don’t want to see anybody get hurt, we don’t want to see anybody get busted, we just want everybody to get a little crazy and just enjoy themselves.”

Champ prefers the term “security” over bouncer.

“There are people you don’t make happy because you say ‘You’ve had enough to drink, I’ve got to cut you off,’ but we want everyone to have a safe enjoyable time,” Champ said.

The job is not thankless either. Even checking IDs, which is the main job of the Brookings doorman, isn’t much of a strain.

“Generally people are pretty cool about it,” Skinner’s doorman Jon Mendelsohn said.

“I prefer bouncing to anything else,” he said. “It’s pretty relaxed. You get to talk to people all night and you get paid for it.”

Not surprisingly, the biggest problem for a bouncer is fake IDs. Even Jim’s Tap, a place that bartender/doorman Ion Trembath says caters to an older crowd, runs into college students trying to get into the bar on the weekends.

The Safari is a different story. When asked how often he runs into fake IDs, Safari bouncer Jason Holbeck nodded his head.

“Every night we work,” Holbeck said.

Both Holbeck and Mendelsohn taked about breaking up fights on Hobo Days this year, which was the first time either of them worked the door during what anyone familiar with Brookings knows is the busiest time of the year downtown.

The worst fight that Holbeck didn’t break out during Hobo Days, however.

“He was on top of some guy on the ground punching him,” he said. “I grabbed him and pulled him off?I told him he had to go and he didn’t want to so I made him.”

Such instances are few and far between, however. The worst that usually happens is a shouting match, according to Champ.

Each person who works the door at a bar in South Dakota is required to attend a training course called Techniques of Alcohol Management. The T.A.M. certification helps employees to recognize the types of things to look for when checking IDs.

“It’s just a one night class that tells you what to look for,” Holbeck said.

Some of the things bouncers are taught to watch for on ID pictures include a mismatched height, weight, nose or cheekbones, Mendelsohn said.

“There are people that come in with other people’s IDs and it looks real close,” Holbeck said.

Generally the word for the doorman is hospitality, however.

“We’re the first person they see on the way to the bar?we don’t want to give them a bad impression,” Mendelsohn said.