Working knowledge What a bouncer thinks you should know

Doorman Chris Clarke keeps a tight control of who enters the door at the Republic Garden & Lounge, where a dress code is enforced after 10 p.m.

Christopher Clarke has worked as a bouncer since 2004. He’s now the head bouncer at Republic Reign, which means he has plenty of tips for partiers trying to get through the door.

“We’re really observing people’s demeanors,” Clarke says, adding that his crew is “sober and keen-eyed,” unlike many of the hopeful entrants. Before prospective customers even reach the front door, Clarke has sized them up for signs of drunkenness. “Stumbling’s a big one,” he says. “If you stumble, the first thing we do is look down at your feet. Sometimes a woman in heels might step on a crack. But if you’re wearing street shoes and you stumble, or you’re leaning up against our building, that’s a sign we may have to approach you and offer you some great customer service.”

If you want to conduct a self-check before joining the line, Clarke advises you should be able to “stay upright, with eyes open and articulate some kind of sentence.”

Clarke stresses that bouncers aren’t trying to ruin anyone’s night. “Our pleasant-yet-firm demeanor isn’t meant to intimidate,” he says. “It’s to set the tone of responsibility.”

Often, a bouncer will have to tell one member of a group that he or she “had a little too much fun tonight.” Then, “we use a hand signal that directs them out of line.” Clarke says he uses as few words as possible, partly because it’s hard to carry on a rational conversation with someone who’s intoxicated.

While the pulled partier’s friends are allowed to proceed into the club, Clarke recommends they should “be responsible” and look after the person too drunk to come inside.

If bouncers have to spend extra time scrutinizing questionable IDs, it slows down the line for everyone else. Also, if you’re asked to provide ID, comply. “Instead of putting up a fight, understand it’s a requirement by law,” Clarke says.

While he isn’t crazy about the term —“I know bribe kind of carries a negative connotation” — Clarke says a little extra cash can shorten a guest’s waiting time.

He refused to reveal exactly how much money is required, saying the price fluctuates with demand, but guests on certain nights can pay an additional $25 per person to stand in an expedited VIP line.

Or guests can choose to offer more.

“Absolutely,” Clarke says. “That’s the nature of the business. We’re the person standing between them and what they want.”