Want a place that shuts you down prematurely and steals your evening’s earnings; then robs your guests and unduly manhandles them off the premises?
If this doesn’t sound like your kinda scene, best steer clear of Bar 104. Your friends would be safer kerb crawling a Brixton crack alley than they would drinking at this Old Street dive.
Sadly, this exact scenario befell DJ and party planner Dave Jones*, who recently held a club night at this dingy east London drinking den.
‘It’s terrible,’ he said. ‘It couldn’t have gone any worse, honestly. They are crooked individuals.’
Having booked the venue months in advance – fixing a late license and an agreed bar tab – Dave arrived at the venue last Friday night only to be told the sound system he’d booked and paid for weeks prior wasn’t permitted.
‘We ran through everything with them before the night. We told them we’d need a proper sound system in there to make it work because the music we play requires decent sound, and we had an agreed bar spend. It started off as £1500 and the week before it went to £2000. Then the week [of the event] it went to £2500. I thought: “what the hell is going on?”’
Goal posts proceeded to move.
To rub salt in the wound, Dave was told a late license was required. He paid £250 to an outsourced licensee, only for the bar to then reveal it could have cost him £21.
The evening of the event – hours before the 6am late license was near fulfilled – a ring of security closed the club down without any prior warning, forcefully shifting people out of the venue. All the while possessions were stolen from under the punters’ noses at a rate of knots; mobile phones, clothing, handbags… including Dave’s takings from the night.
When he confronted security staff about the missing profits – threatening to call the police if the money wasn’t returned – the cash float quickly reappeared, minus £500.
‘We spent over £1000 getting the party set up; £250 on the sound system, which we were told at the last minute we couldn’t use, and £250 to get a licensee in there so we could go until six o’clock in the morning. We had spent money on the bar and then had at least £500 stolen off us, so we’ve lost about £1500.’
Outside things took a dark turn. Having systematically robbed Dave and his party of their possessions, the security became unwarrantedly aggressive. The most violent of the four individuals, a woman (whose identity is unknown; presumably a member of staff) lashed out completely unprovoked, screaming profanities at a mate of Dave’s who was taking photos on her mobile phone as the scene unfolded. Security staff then snatched her handset and deleted the picture evidence. The woman aggressor had to be physically restrained by her colleagues because she was so fiercely out of control (witnesses claimed she was ‘proper flapping’ and looked like she might actually take off).
Nightclub culture is not by nature a violent one. It typically involves swigging a few shandies and joyously swinging your pants to deep dancefloor grooves. This particular incident involved appalling scenes of robbery, hostility and sheer criminality by those hired to protect innocent punters. These people are meant to be gatekeepers and trouble-weeders, not trouble makers.
These are not the actions of professional security staff expected to act as a calming influence. Why the excessive force? What do they have to hide?
According to the law all security staff are required to wear a Security Industry Authority license badge, and failing to do so is an offence. Only one of these three doormen appeared to be wearing an armband.
If this establishment is aware of the thuggish behavior and outright thievery of their own security, shouldn’t their license be revoked?
Being targeted by those whom had seemingly coordinated a systematic dishevelment of these people and their belongings is most unsound. Dave simply wanted to throw a party for his friends. Instead he left feeling completely abused and £1500 out of pocket. ‘I was so chuffed that our friends made an effort to come down, and then the whole thing came to such a pickle at the end. The way they behaved was extreme.’
On Bar 104’s website their catch phase: ‘we’re like you’ couldn’t be further from the truth.
Do not tolerate this Londoners.
Greater measures need to be introduced to stop this blatant abuse.
Have you suffered similar abuse at the hands of Bar 104? Let us know by commenting below.
*Names changed to protect the innocent.
Image by Ewan-M courtesy of Flickr.