The weekend before last, NSCAD students on a school project ended up in a planned confrontation with an Alehouse bouncer. The controversy has raged ever since, perhaps giving impetus to a proposal to license bar security.
The students were clearly on a mission to cause trouble. Bouncers "tend to get angry and tell you that you're not allowed, which is why it makes good portraits because it's of big angry bouncer faces," wrote photographer Tyler Munford in a now-deleted post on his Facebook page. The post seems to have expected violence, and laid out plans for a "man who helps Tyler off the ground when hurt" to be present.
Sure enough, the bouncer took Munford's camera and pulled another student to the ground, all caught on camera. The fact that the students expected this type of response suggests that bar staff often respond inappropriately.
"It's unfortunate this happened," says Peter Martell, general manager at the Alehouse. "Taking the camera was wrong," he allows, but, "it's impossible to train for every instance that comes up."
Martell says his staff receives monthly training, but bouncer training isn't regulated by the province. Bar security is important and necessary, but without standards defining legal limits, problems will arise.
Many other responses from upset people on both sides of the issue have appeared on news sites, YouTube---now erased---and even a Facebook petition to get two of the students involved suspended, claiming they "need to be brought to justice."
The bigger issue, however, regardless of who's at fault, is the fact that too many bouncers in Halifax don't know where their boundaries lie. Proposed legislation by the NS Department of Justice will require bar security to have proper training, but the requirement has not yet been put in place. Perhaps this overall unsavoury situation will speed up that process.