This goes out to Vancouver’s bouncers

Dec 19 2017, 3:11 pm

We all know the capacity excuse is some bull.

Twenty-five years (minutes) have passed since you muttered the word ‘capacity’ and we have been waiting, watching, perking up every time the doors to your establishment swing open and a very happy bunch stumbles out, their motors skills greased with vodka. Our heads swing towards you guys expectantly. We might as well be panting and you might as well be lording bacon over our heads.

Twenty-five minutes of this and we are still waiting in single file, shivering like hairless Chihuahuas.

I’ve donned a skirt for tonight and it feels like Siberia up in here. I am the result of a couple hours of styling, ironing, primping, priming, matteing, powdering, bronzing, glossing, flossing, shaving, preening, moisturizing, scenting, polishing and accessorizing. I consciously put on these high heels that may likely snap my ankles because I want to look good for myself and, let’s be real, for you and everyone else in the club.

Speaking of wardrobe, you guys ever consider changing yours up? I suppose the all-black establishes a unity or a profession. It upholds consistency, which has been said marks the difference between success and failure. And you like to come across as successful people, right?

People love the black sheep – be the sheep. Complement that black windbreaker with a Ne-Yo fedora. Throw caution to the wind; John Fluevogs will instantly add flair to any dour get-up.

Other ways to soften your appearance:

  • unfurl brows
  • uncross brawny arms
  • chuckle

It’s been 30 minutes now and my pinky toes have offed themselves.

The line is moving with the steady pace of erosion and I have had time to mull over what I know about your ‘capacity’ excuse.

There are approximately 50 cabarets (night clubs) and pubs, or establishments holding liquor primary licences (LPL), in Gastown, Yaletown and the Granville strip. The Granville strip, from Drake to Robson, houses 21 LPLs, not including venues like the Commodore Ballroom or the Vogue Theatre, and offers patrons 4,368 seats in total. The Granville Room has the lowest number of seats on the strip coming in at 30 and Caprice night club has the highest at 405 seats. The average number of seats at an LPL on the strip is 208.

I understand that surburbanites throughout the lower mainland flock to downtown Vancouver for weekend camaraderie. However, the strip is but one of a few popular destination points for this. There is also Gastown with 15 LPLs offering 3,097 seats in total with an average of 207 seats in an LPL establishment. The lowest number of seats is 110 at Guilt & Company Lounge and the highest is 302 seats at the Bourbon.

Yaletown offers eight LPLs with a total of 861 seats. The lowest number is 37 seats at Raw Canvas and the highest is 237 seats at Bar None.

So, within the areas of the Strip, Gastown and Yaletown there are a total of 8,326 available seats at a given time. Needless to say, there is no shortage of places to go to in this fair city.

A line can be witnessed by Vancouverites outside of many cabarets on the strip by 10 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on weekends. The excuse that is usually given is that your establishment has reached its capacity.

Bouncers, to the excuse that your establishment is at maximum capacity at 10:15 p.m. on a Friday night – that is some bull. We all know that when we finally get in, it will be empty as hell.

On a recent Saturday night, I was discussing this article with a friend and he eloquently put forth an idea behind line-ups outside of night clubs:

“I’m a guy, I’m walking along Granville street, I see a line-up of people outside of X bar and it’s huge, and I’m thinking in my head that’s where I want to be. Here’s the kicker, you see all the girls in the line wearing the short little dresses and [guys think] yeah, I really want to get in there. It’s all about keeping people waiting outside, the bars are using the line-up as a form of advertisement to people on the street.  They’re exploiting the women essentially.”

At 10:30 p.m. we strolled along the Granville strip. The bright tubes of light along the street shone luminescent in the rain and there were lines snaking along the sidewalk outside of the usual places. I stopped at three night clubs and asked a bouncer how long the wait was. Wait times ranged from 20 minutes to 45 minutes. Both of us fully aware that having reached capacity was out of the question this early in the game, I asked what the hold-up was. Each bouncer gave the same reason: processing. The process that takes place just inside where you pay the cover charge and have your I.D. scanned.

You be the judge on whether that warrants a lengthy wait outside.

We came upon the Lennox Pub and, noticing the no-line, my friend and I walked in, flashed our I.D.s to the smiling bouncer and scavenged a couple stools. It can be a simple process.

The notion of holding the line in order to create the illusion of a bustling atmosphere is one that patrons have tossed around and one that I wanted verified by an insider.

Felicia, a bar manager, says that there are some places that will hold the line to make their establishment look busy, but not at the bar she works at – the Charles Bar. Another reason for waits is the guest list. The Charles Bar will hold the line to save space for those on a guest list until 11 p.m.

Ben, a bartender at the Bourbon, says that other bars do hold the line to create the perspective that their bar is busy. But, the big windows at the front of the Bourbon does not allow for such a practice there. Their door guy, Jay, has been manning the door for two and a half years and is quite vocal about other bars holding the line. He believes it is a dirty level of dealing with things but it comes from a business perspective.

Here’s a classic business perspective: supply and demand. We, the general public, fall into the demand part of the equation.

I have now been waiting for forty minutes and I am practically cryogenic. I have been respectful of your misguided authority, but enough is enough.

Chauchy-looking males, their entourage in tow, strut past the line and quietly slip the bouncer a bill and the doors are held open for them – this transaction is universal. You can bribe the bouncer to get in if you don’t want to wait, says Jay.

On top of being made to wait, paying a cover charge, drinking their high-priced drinks, you can also bribe the bouncer to get in.

We’re doing this wrong, you guys.

Someone needs to break out of this sleepy pack and incite a small revolution. And it’s going to be me.

I take a tentative step out of the line and then march with purposeful strides. Boom goes my heart, beating the soundtrack to my fear. In my head, a crowd chants my name. I am the demand. I will give you a piece of my mind and change Vancouver.

I park myself just outside the velvet rope and train my gaze onto the first one of you. I open my mouth – here goes:

“F### you.”

What? Before I can recover, I turn to the next one, this time arm outstretched and finger pointed.

“F### you.”

Next one.

“F### you!”

Last, but not least.

“AND F### YOU.”


Fingers wrap around my arm and I’m jerked back and dragged away before I can edit my outburst.

“Let’s just go somewhere else.”

That’s a start. Go somewhere else. This simple little act is you demanding a simpler system. Give your business to an establishment that doesn’t take advantage of you. If you must line-up, give yourself a reasonable wait-time and when it’s up, get out.

Ladies, when we congregate with our girlfriends, we are amazingly adept at creating our own fun wherever we go. Our night is what we make it, so don’t freeze in a line-up.

The boys? They’ll follow suit.


Written and researched by Neelam Sharma, contributor and copy editor at Vancity Buzz. Follow Neelam on Twitter @_neelamsharma.

Photo credit: Zach Hale

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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