It’s a harrowing moment. You hear the static of your security headset, and then a voice comes over the radio, “there’s been an incident”. Your heart sinks into the pit of your stomach. You can tell by the security guard’s tone that this isn’t your usual high heel twisted ankle, or slap scrap. This one is going to shake you to your core. You’re probably talking to some customers, laughing and having a good time when you hear the news. For a moment—a small millisecond—you don’t know what to do. Should you stand there and play up like nothing is wrong, or tackle “the incident”? You snap out of it and immediately spring into action, working tirelessly until the cops have what they need to take care of business.
When a shooting happens at a nightclub, as the manager you feel it in your bones. I know this, because I’ve been at the scene of four different shootings during my time in the club industry. Whether a club manager, a land developer, a theatre manager, a school principal or a GM at a Home Depot; all of those meetings and preparations trying to keep the public safe rush back into your mind. You wonder if all that hardwork was worth it.
You’ve hired the right team, pushed the right message, patiently dealt with volatile situations in calmer-than-your-younger-self would have allowed fashion. In short, you played your cards right. Then, one person with a lack of respect for his fellow man decides to be a cowboy. These things happen outside because it’s too safe inside. You have to get through security checks, ID scans, and you’re on camera. There’s so many eyes on what you do inside the club. Outside, you can be a cowboy, and hope no one recognizes you because the streets are wide open.
For anyone looking to escalate matters outside of a club—there are plenty of reasons to think twice. The technology has gotten so good, the security processes have become smarter, and there’s a manager that won’t stand for you trying to ruin his life’s work. When you’re an entrepreneur, as bar owners and managers often are, you put your soul into a project. In the case of a club, you’ve come up with the marketing, business and renovations plan. You oversee everything, and battle it out for every customer. Late nights turn into early mornings, and every night you’re under a pressure unique to the industry—packing a room.
What people don’t realize is that you don’t do it for the money, the sex, or the notoriety. You built a club because you wanted to offer a place where good people could have a good time, and all the while, you feel pretty awesome yourself. When you watch the lights hit the dance floor that first time, or you see the first patron come through the doors on opening night, it’s all worth it. Thousands stream through your doors (if you do your job right) and you are responsible for so many unforgettable moments.
That’s why the cowboy gets the manager’s undivided attention. How dare he try to take the manager’s soul and victimize the patrons that have become friends, regulars or contributors to the overall vision of fun and safety. That’s why the manager is on his knees giving CPR with no regard for his personal safety. That’s why after the paramedics come, the manager is in the office combing through footage and ID scans. Yep, that manager will spend hours piecing together the footage, and gathering every scrap of data. The club and the police will work together to catch this person that doesn’t have respect for the basic tenants of humanity. Then, when the dust settles and the work is done, trust that there will be tears. The manager cries for many reasons. First, is because he knows there’s been senseless violence that may result in a loss of life. More tears will come when the family of the victim creeps into the mind’s eye. You think of whether this will be it for your establishment, then you really start to breakdown when you realize that you’re not the first, nor will you be the last person in your position.
While the probability of such an incident is extremely low, senseless violence does happen. We have become accustom to the title of “Murder Capital” and make jokes about it on social media. This isn’t because there are a lot of nightclub killings. It’s because there is a lot of killing, period. Homicides happen in homes, outside clubs, in restaurants, and on the streets. They happen downtown, in the suburbs, and even in the country. The problem isn’t exclusive to any particular group of people, and could realistically happen anywhere. The argument could be made that because bars serve booze, they are hot beds for idiocy. Then again, I’ve been at a movie theatre where no alcohol is being served, and I’ve seen some pretty horrible violence where there was no security to diffuse the situation. Media streams are littered with articles about violence.
This isn’t a nightclub issue. This is about humanity. It’s about what we hold in the highest of regard. If it’s vengeance, and acting like you have power because you can hold a piece of metal then there’s a problem. If someone has that kind of blind rage inside of them, they won’t just lose it in a nightclub. At the very least, there are measures at a club that allow a killer to be caught faster than in most cases.
Then there’s the media. We’ll call them, issue number two. Reporters and story editors sensationalize to get a rise out of the public—and it works. Instead of just reporting the facts, they subscribe to a negative viewpoint, and push their ratings hungry agenda. In fact, they’ll probably find someone on the street just looking to get their five-seconds of fame talking down about the area, or the people. The media needs you to feel a sense of dread, and that you could be next. Without that, they can’t compete with TMZ. This makes them complicit. When the media stop providing information, and start trying to sway public opinion, they have abandoned the very tenants of journalism. There are exceptions, but sadly this has become the rule.
As for the manager that went to bed wondering what lies ahead? The people will likely never know about the diligence to do whatever is necessary, or the cooperation with police. The people will never know what it’s like to feel responsible for something that no one could ever predict. A life was lost. That’s what matters. Let’s not forget that we are all human, after all, and that each death is a tragedy, no matter where it takes place. It can happen anywhere. The fact that it happened at a club this time is irrelevant statistically, and rationally.
Just the fact that it happened, is. We need to look at the people involved, and try to help anyone affected. After that, people can heal. Remember, the club was opened to give people a place to enjoy themselves, which many will do.
Keep it safe out there people, and look after each other. In the morning, that guy that stepped on your shoes will have gone his way, and you will have gone yours, likely to never see each other again.
RIP Rustom Paclipan, 23
WRITTEN BY JAMIE HALL Writer, Entrepreneur & Fan of Superman from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada