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When bouncers flex their muscles

Some of the bouncers of Trivandrum Bouncers   | Photo Credit: Harikumar J.S.

With electronic beats of dubstep music in the background, the hulking figures, all spread out around a gymnasium near Vellayani, are busy with some heavy-lifting at forenoon. Their bulging biceps heave as they push the envelope on exercise machines. It’s all part of their daily routine to keep themselves in perfect shape as demanded by their “profession.”

Whether it’s a DJ night at a three-star hotel or a wedding ceremony involving a VIP or an inauguration featuring a celebrity chief guest, it’s hard to miss those shades-wearing, musclemen in black standing akimbo with their pumped-up chest. Their sole purpose: deal with troublemakers or fans who get too close.

“It’s easier to control a crowd during a programme at Greenfield Stadium than at a DJ night, where it’s simply not easy to reason with party-goers,” chuckles 31-year-old Dinu Gopinath, manager of Trivandrum Bouncers. Dinu, himself a bouncer and a fitness enthusiast, has been in this field over five years.

Dinu says Trivandrum Bouncers, a registered organisation with over 30 regular bouncers on its roll now, was formed some years ago due to rising demand from the film industry, mainly for stage shows and high-profile events.

Some of the bouncers of Trivandrum Bouncers

Some of the bouncers of Trivandrum Bouncers   | Photo Credit: Harikumar J. S.

The strongmen take specialised training in handling a crowd from gym trainers and experienced bouncers. Dress code of all-black is a must and it unmistakably features skin-tight T-shirt, jeans, belt, shoes and shades.

Some of the gym-hitters take up bouncing as part-time work just to earn extra income. Arun. S, an engineering graduate currently working with an IT firm in Technopark, prefers to moonlight as a bouncer on weekends and holidays for “extra pocket money.”

Arun. S, a bouncer with Trivandrum Bouncers, working out in a gym

Arun. S, a bouncer with Trivandrum Bouncers, working out in a gym   | Photo Credit: Harikumar J.S.

Arun says he also relishes the prospect of getting to meet “glamorous celebrities.” Thirty-year-old Ebi Francis of Trivandrum Bouncers says sometimes the mere sight of imposing bouncers standing their ground acts as a deterrent against any unwanted fuss.

Careful planning

However, ensuring safe crowd control on high-profile occasions requires careful planning and execution. Akhilesh Padmakumar, a former Junior Mr. Trivandrum and owner of a gym, says bouncers have their work cut out during such events and they have to act in coordination with the police.

“For instance, if it’s an inauguration involving a celebrity, we have to first get a lay of the land, find out and secure the entry and exit points well before the event. We then assess the crowd and have to be prepared for any potential trouble. Once the celebrity arrives at the scene, we have to ensure that the entrance is clear and, in coordination with the organisers, surround and shadow the person till he/she reaches a trouble-free zone,” says Akhilesh, who works for Shadows, an unregistered group for bouncers.

In such cases when matters did spiral out of control, they have resorted to subterfuges like delaying the guest’s entry or escorting the celebrity out through a different exit, away from the crowd. “In any case, the police will be there on such occasions to handle the law and order side,” says Dinu.

Reliance on technology

It’s not just sheer muscle power that they rely on but also on technology. “For bigger events when the bouncers have to spread out to various locations, say during a crowd-puller event like a cricket match or high-profile award functions at open stadiums, inter-communication is imperative and we stay connected via Bluetooth sets,” explains Akhilesh. Wearing black shades aid them in keeping an eagle eye on the crowd while preventing others from maintaining eye contact with them, which can prove to be distractive.

Bouncers say their main expenses come in the way of a body-builder’s diet, something they can’t do without. “To maintain our muscle mass and build, we need to follow a diet high on protein and low on carb. The diet chart ideally specifies half kg of chicken breast, 20 egg whites, oats meals, lots of fruits and vegetables and sometimes protein powder and various other items,” says Ebi. Customised work-out methods for bouncers lay emphasis on building biceps, triceps and chest muscles and most of them sweat it out at the gym from anywhere between two to four hours on average in a day, with one day of rest a week.

After all, it’s not a “recognised profession” and most of the bouncers say they aspire to eventually become regular bodyguards with VIPs or enter the film industry for a steady income or work as gym trainers. Like Akhilesh, who prides himself in having done a small role of an Indian soldier in the Mohanlal-starrer 1971: Beyond Borders.

“We sometimes get to click selfies with celebrities and we cherish such moments that occur as a bonus to this job. After all, how many of you get such opportunities?” asks a gleeful Dinu, showing off his big biceps.Sweaty and a tad gasping, the men break for drinks.

Another high-profile event for a TV channel is round the corner and it’s time for them to huddle to formulate an action plan.

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Printable version | Oct 15, 2021 1:48:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/when-bouncers-flex-their-muscles/article23747611.ece

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