Art of the Bounce
Bar security workers keep an eye out for fake IDs and fights
Six nights a week Jim Turczynski is looking for a fight and hoping he won’t find one.
As the director of security at Levelz nightclub and Lupo’s sports bar, Turczynski is also looking for those under 21 who rely on counterfeit identification cards to get them into bars.
Turczynski stands like a hawk perched on the second floor, watching customers enter the bar and observing the idiosyncrasies that give away someone who is about to flash a fake ID.
The bouncer says while he has only been a security man for about a year since the opening of Levelz he has enough experience to detect the telltale signs of the fake ID holder; the haughty laugh and chatter meant to pull attention away from the card or the nervous pacing in front of the establishment before courage or peer pressure pushes the minor to the door.
“I’ve developed quite a reputation for ID checking,” 28-year-old Turczynski said. “It’s all about how they act and I’ll ask as many questions as I need to.”
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And in a tourist town, trying to pass a fake ID seems to be the most common offense at the bars.
Turczynski said since the Levelz grand opening on Jan. 19, 2001, he has taken away more than 400 pieces of identification.
“The first week in January I took 40 IDs in three days,” Turczynski said of Steamboat’s college week.
The Steamboat Springs Police Department confiscates falsified identification cards.
Twenty-five-year-old bouncer Andy Tomlinson of The Wolf Den Tavern said he’s taken a handful of identification cards since work started for him in October but The Wolf Den typically doesn’t see a lot of underage drinkers.
Co-worker Tyler Strode said after looking at so many real identification cards, he spots the fake ones right away.
Turczynski said he has meetings with other bouncers, restaurant servers and Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. representatives to advise them on what to look for in a fake ID.
Along with the fake IDs, out-of-towners will also try to pass themselves off as locals to take advantage of specials offered for some events.
“Everyone’s a local,” Strode said sarcastically. “Everyone wants to see the band but no one wants to pay.”
“Every night it’s something,” Turczynski said. “Whether it’s taking IDs, or someone saying, ‘I know this person; I’m a local, hook me up; can I give you $20?'” “And I say to them, ‘Oh, you’re a local. Who was your first-grade teacher?'”
Turczynski and other bouncers say they have been called every dirty name in the book but they continue checking identification and defusing the fights simply because it’s their job.
“Having to deal with drunk people all the time is tough. You have to be patient but stern,” Strode said.
The night that 1980s heavy metal band Quiet Riot came to Levelz is one of Turczynski’s most memorable fight nights, he said.
“I pulled 12 people out and one guy almost broke my arm,” Turczynski said.
The recent raging mosh pit for D.K. Kennedy’s, however, was actually peaceful, Turczynski recalled.
Strode and Tomlinson said fights are the arduous part of their jobs but most confrontations are kept under control.
“Fighting is no big deal. We rarely have to call the cops,” Tomlinson said.
Tomlinson said fights that break out sometimes involve the bouncers but all bars in Steamboat have policies that stress restraining over hitting.
“If people are fighting, restrain them but don’t hit them,” he said. “Sometimes they go after you but the next day they come in and apologize. They know that they’re wrong but they were drunk.”
Through body language, Turczynski said he can tell when a fight is going to break out.
He said when possible he tries to get two bouncers to get the situation back under control.
Levelz also has a zero tolerance rule when it comes to fighting.
“When we first opened, people thought this would be the new Inferno,” Turczynski said, referring to a bar that had existed in Gondola Square. “But if you fight in here, you leave and you don’t come back.”
Turczynski said when he is conducting interviews for a new security person at Levelz, he looks for someone who is mild mannered, not necessarily the most muscular.
“I’ve never struck anyone. I’ve had to physically restrain people and put them on the ground but talking to defuse the situation” is the best scenario, Turczynski said.
When it comes to security, the bottom line for Turczynski is the welfare of his co-workers, he said.
“My bartenders rely on me. I’m not going to jeopardize the jobs of 30 people,” Turczynski said.
A good night, the bouncers said, includes a night of responsible drinking and fun no fights, no intolerable drunks, no underage drinkers no problems.
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