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Wash down those pretzels with a big frosty mug of anecdata
January 26, 2014 5:42 PM   Subscribe

Burt Likko is a lawyer who used to handle litigation arising from bar fights. He's learned a bit about how and why they happen.
posted by Cash4Lead (73 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fascinating!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 6:06 PM on January 26


It seems that resolution of the dispute caused the symptoms to subside.

This makes sense, uncertainty adds to people's stress. Having some sort of resolution would release at least some of that stress.
posted by arcticseal at 6:09 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Women were faster to employ weapons, whether prepared (the knife) or improvised. Improvised weapons are almost always thrown, and have included highball glasses, pool balls, bar stools, knives, and in one notable case, the assailant’s own feces.

Alcohol is a hell of a drug.
posted by Mezentian at 6:11 PM on January 26 [5 favorites]


This part rang true to me:
You might think that a bar fight is most commonly started between two guys fighting over a woman. That’s not so, at least not in my experience. Ejection seems to be a more precipitating event. More than half the bar fights I had to sort out started when a too-drunk patron was asked to leave and refused to do so.
I have a friend, nicest guy in the world. Has lived in the same condo and had the same job for 10 years; an all around rational person. Rarely drinks to excess and doesn't use drugs, have a criminal record, or is otherwise anything else like the the other descriptions contained in the article. And yet he's been in at least two bar fights that I witnessed, and I've heard tales of others in his youth. Every single time, the story was the same-- he got drunk to the point of incoherence, and was asked to leave by the bartender. When leaving, the bouncer (the way he saw it) got overly aggressive and he was forced to defend himself against the unjust asshole, which led to a fight that he quickly lost.

Something about public ejection combined with alcohol seems to make some people lose it. Maybe bars should escort people out the back or something.
posted by cell divide at 6:14 PM on January 26 [7 favorites]


The closest I've come to being involved in a bar fight was during my second year of university; my housemates for the next year (all six of them) and I had just signed our lease and hit the town to celebrate. One of them got in a verbal altercation with a couple of dudes and when we left they jumped, or tried to, all seven of us. This didn't go well for them and ended so quickly I didn't even have to take part. However, they seemed happy enough because they were high-fiving each other as they staggered off.

The best bar fight I ever witnessed was the one the regular in our group predicted to within ten minutes and even the location ("by the popcorn machine, around 11:00").
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:17 PM on January 26 [5 favorites]


This was very interesting, thank you for posting it.

Probably the funniest bar fight I ever saw was between the bouncers, all six of them, who tried to eject a pair of rugby teams.

The ruggers left, but only after winning.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:19 PM on January 26 [10 favorites]


I used to know (fortunately distantly) a small group of coworkers in another office for whom going to the bar on Saturday and getting into a fight was the expected entertainment, with the fight being part of the expectation. One of them only stopped when he thought he had killed his opponent, and became groggily aware that he might be going to jail for a long time if he had. When they told me this story his friend clapped him heartily on the back and brayed "Yep, I said 'that's a dead guy, for sure,' you should have seen the look on his face." Clap, clap. "I guess it's a good thing I was wrong."
posted by localroger at 6:19 PM on January 26


I've only ever seen one bar fight and I think that it lasted about 3.5 seconds. Saw somebody get a Rolling Rock bottle upside the head and the next thing I saw was the gigantic bouncer zipping across the room and stomping on the guy who did it.
posted by octothorpe at 6:22 PM on January 26


When he says he's not a neurologist, he's not wrong.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 6:25 PM on January 26 [14 favorites]


Maybe bars should escort people out the back or something.

It's the affront to personal dignity or something. Maybe they should have a chute into a warm tank of jello to ease them out the door.
posted by arcticseal at 6:27 PM on January 26 [5 favorites]


"Best" bar fight I witnessed was one which happened just outside a bar I was about to go into as two bros were yelling at each other, which turned into a fight.

Dude 1 fell down, dude 2 jumped onto and straddled him, and then proceeded to hit him really hard in the face. Well, I say "face" when I mean "sidewalk"--dude 2 was so drunk he couldn't actually make contact with his target. After about five or six really hard punches directly into the concrete, he rolled over clutching his hand.

It all, it lasted maybe 5 seconds, with two losers and no winners. Story of most of them. Hollywood bar fights accurately reflect real fights like Hollywood rom-coms reflect real romance.
posted by maxwelton at 6:39 PM on January 26 [31 favorites]


This carries some rather dark implications for experiencing one’s own sex drive upon which I do not care to reflect further at this time.

To be fair, this could be applied to about 47.3% of all MetaFilter comments and 74.5% of MetaTalk comments.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:41 PM on January 26 [6 favorites]


I got cut off once and when the bouncer came over I was like "Oh no that's okay man, bartender's in charge, it's all good, just find me the door, yeah?" and he was so surprised that someone was polite that I got to stay as long as I stuck to water and behaved myself. Because apparently that never happens.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:41 PM on January 26 [41 favorites]


Alcohol is clearly a dangerous drug with no medical uses. It would probably be best to outlaw it.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 6:46 PM on January 26 [7 favorites]


When there were bouncers, they always stayed out of it.

Makes sense, if you think about them following they security guard model, but here, I've always accepted the Hollywood vision without even thinking about it.
posted by ignignokt at 6:47 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


He's learned a bit about how and why they happen

tl;dr: gin?
posted by nathancaswell at 6:49 PM on January 26 [4 favorites]


When I go out I can always tell the drinkers. Everyone else responds to a jostle with a thumbs-ups, a handshake, or a clap on the shoulder. The drinkers start shit. Why it's alcohol of all things that's legal is a mystery to me.
posted by 1adam12 at 6:50 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Actually, come to think of it the best bar fight I ever saw, which was really a restaurant fight, was two drunk guys who spilled out of a diner in Kingston, Ontario, totally whaling on each other. One got on top of the other and was pounding his head into a snowbank. I was starting to wonder if I should find a phone and call the cops (this was the mid-'90s) when out of nowhere they stopped fighting and started hugging; "Why are we fighting? We're friends, man!, etc.). Then they went back inside.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:51 PM on January 26 [13 favorites]


but as the years wasted on
nothing ever did unless I
caused it:

broken bar mirrors, a fight with a 7 foot
giant
, a dalliance with a lesbian, many things
like the ability to call a spade a spade and to
settle arguments that I did not
begin and etc. and etc. and etc.

one day I just upped and left the
place

like that

and I began to drink alone and I found the company
quite all right

then, as if the gods were bored with my peace at
heart…
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 6:55 PM on January 26 [4 favorites]


Alcohol is clearly a dangerous drug with no medical uses. It would probably be best to outlaw it.

Why it's alcohol of all things that's legal is a mystery to me.



Think of the poor trial lawyers, man; there's no money in legal marijuana litigation.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:56 PM on January 26 [3 favorites]


The man of twist in turns : did said fight happen in in the Wildcat bar in Tempe, Arizona during the rugby tournament in the early or mid 1990s? If so I was on one of those teams.

On second thought, I read your comment and immediately thought, "that sounds exactly like a fight I was sorta in/near", but now that I think of it the number of times two rugby teams got in fight with 6 bouncers in some bar somewhere has to be in the 1000s.

Additionally, 100% of the bar fights I have witnessed happened while playing Rugby and with my team.
posted by ill3 at 6:59 PM on January 26 [8 favorites]


One person is usually better than the other at violence, and the winning tactic seems to be somehow immobilizing the opponent at an early point in the melee.

The last time I saw a "fair" fight, Hollywood-style, where two guys the same size stand back and swing at each other and follow the rules, was in high school. Since then the (happily rather few) fights I've seen are like what he describes, wildly uneven affairs where one side is simply better at violence or has more friends ready to put the boot in.

I've learned by watching and don't get in fights. You never know who has three friends nearby.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:01 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Bar fights were a favorite theme of The Kids In The Hall. Exhibit B.

Mr. Show also offers some compelling evidence.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:06 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


The aftermath of the last barfight I saw was 3 dead people. http://www.wspa.com/story/21512009/police-3-dead-1-injured-in-violent-asheville-bar-fight

It was not funny. At all
posted by Mr. Yuck at 7:12 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Card Cheat: he put buddy's head in a snowbank and just started feedin' him the right-left?
posted by anthill at 7:13 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


BAR FIGHT!
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:18 PM on January 26


Only once was I forcibly removed from an establishment, after complaining loudly about how someone else had been forcibly removed. I lost a shoe on the way out, and after a sheepish apology, was allowed to return and search for it. I never found it. It was an unpleasant walk home.
posted by jalexei at 7:21 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


I've seen a heck of a lot of bar fights. Too many anecdotes to list here. The biggest one had more than a hundred people in it and I was in the middle of it with a camera crew. As the writer says, it felt like it lasted fifteen to twenty minutes but when we got it up on the Steenbeck it turned out to have been over in about a minute.

I've been beaten up once and narrowly escaped it another time. In neither case did I do anything at all. One guy thought I laughed at him (I didn't) and the other guy thought I goosed his girlfriend (I didn't -- she walked backwards into the drink I was holding so it went between her butt cheeks).

The one thing that has stuck in my mind is that, coming from the UK, the first time I was in the US some guy was being an asshole in a bar and I was about to say something to him (like you would in a pub in England) but my friend pulled me down and pointed out that he might have a gun. This was something that had never occurred to me in the UK.

I once saw a friend of mine who was in truth an opera singer stop a bar fight in its tracks by simply standing up and yelling in his big voice "I'M AN OFF DUTY POLICEMAN. EVERYBODY OUT."
posted by sweet mister at 7:27 PM on January 26 [13 favorites]


and the winning tactic seems to be somehow immobilizing the opponent at an early point in the melee.

Cheat, lie or steal, but get them on the ground as fast as you can.

I've only had to do it once. It was very unpleasant. But that's all I was thinking. Oh, and I had a friend closer by than I thought. That did help.
posted by Cyrano at 7:27 PM on January 26


ps if you are caught in a bar fight, hiding under a table works REALLY WELL
posted by sweet mister at 7:30 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Number of bar-fights I've ever seen in, all my years of living and drinking in Portland, Oregon: 0
Number of bar-fights I've seen in in Boston, Mass that one night I went out there while visiting family: 3

It's a wonderful place, but when the sun sets in Boston, I get a little twitchy now.
posted by furnace.heart at 7:49 PM on January 26 [10 favorites]


It's true that you can usually tell when there's going to be a fight a long long while before, often before the people who are going to fight even arrive.
posted by sweet mister at 7:51 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


when the sun sets in Boston

It's when the drugs set and people are looking for an available way down.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 7:52 PM on January 26


The bouncer at Fred's in Fort Worth is a one-legged dude with a cane, but don't let that fool ya. That fucker is both mean and fast (but a hell of a nice guy if you're not a drunken asshole). I have heard grumblings that he misses the days when it was more of a dive and had fewer drunken fratboys. The neighborhood has gentrified and now you get harassed by the bicycle cops instead of panhandlers.

I almost always miss bar fights even if they happen in the same room, because bars are loud and as was noted, they tend to be over fast. I do worry more about some idiot with a gun these days than I used to.

The closest I ever came to being caught in a fight was when some dude on the sidewalk outside a bar decided he didn't like the way we were looking at him (which we weren't actually doing). Thankfully, he couldn't focus his eyes well enough to aim any punches.
posted by emjaybee at 7:54 PM on January 26


I used to work security at a nightclub that generally ejected at least three or four people a night. I didn't do much of the actual ejecting – they had bigger guys for that, I was normally on door duty – but I saw more than a few fights, if you can call them that. Like most people said, they're usually over very quickly; generally somebody takes a swing at someone else and then a pile of bouncers surround both parties and eject them.

Actually, part of being a good bouncer at a club like that is stopping fights before they happen. Where I worked there would generally be several bouncers stationed around the club in positions where they had a good view, and they'd have radios so they could talk to each other. One or two people would also "float", walking the room to see things up close, make their presence felt, and pay attention to potentially troublesome situations and/or patrons. If somebody showed signs that they were about to cause a problem – arguing, crashing into people, getting too drunk, nodding off, bothering the female patrons – the bouncers would act immediately. Depending on the situation they would either watch the person/situation closely, step over and issue a friendly/stern warning, or call in a couple of other bouncers to throw the offender(s) out.

Ejections were never done by a single bouncer; if at all possible, the bouncers would try to make sure they outnumbered the offending party by at least three to one. Being severely outnumbered usually makes people a lot less willing to fight. If someone did take a swing at a bouncer it never went far, since the bouncers always had the advantage of numbers and sobriety. Bouncers never fought back, in the sense of throwing punches or trying to hurt the offender; it was understood that doing so could put them at risk of being charged with assault, so they would only ever restrain the offender and then hustle them out the door. Once they were outside, it was just a matter of keeping them out. Sometimes they would come back to the front door and yell abuse at me and my partner, and my job was simply to make sure I stayed safe and wait until they either walked off in a huff or a police car came by and threatened to arrest them if they didn't clear out. It wasn't pleasant, but I never took it personally. If they got up in my face I would call some more bouncers out front to back me up, and they would make sure the person left.

That's how it works at the Goldmine, anyway.
posted by Scientist at 7:54 PM on January 26 [4 favorites]


Yeah. sweet mister, once I was with my brother at a bar and he suddenly said let's get out of here. In the car he said he could tell there was going to be a fight. After he took me home he went back and apparently there was indeed a fight.
posted by maggiemaggie at 7:55 PM on January 26


...that brother actually worked as a bouncer for a long time so I guess he knew the signs pretty well.
posted by maggiemaggie at 7:57 PM on January 26


Nick Offerman has an interesting take on approaching belligerent drunks in bars.


but my friend pulled me down and pointed out that he might have a gun.


It is interesting to note that I never had problems in dive bars in Chicago, for exactly this reason- you don't know who is armed or who might know someone. Bars in Wrigleyville (of the sort described by Nick Offerman), on the other hand, were places where you needed to watch out. These are the types of places where people come looking for trouble, or don't know their limits, mainly because they have experienced few negative consequences for their actions, in their lives.

The only exception to this was at Delilah's on a Friday night- normally it's a pretty calm, semi-divey kind of place, but it's close enough to Wrigleyville that the craziness can spill over on the weekends. In this case, one woman decided to glass another one, and immediately fled the premises. I remember thinking, "Well, this sort of thing would never happen at The Mutiny."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:03 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


All I can say is that when a fight happens at the Double Deuce, it ends up with Dalton taking Doc Clay up against the fireplace and that's when the phone rings in Mitch Glazer's house. Those Murray brothers are relentless.
posted by Ber at 8:12 PM on January 26 [10 favorites]


[bites back road house reference, eyeing Ber bitterly]
posted by gottabefunky at 8:19 PM on January 26


I wonder how many fights they have in Amsterdam coffee shops.
posted by freakazoid at 8:20 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: she walked backwards into the drink I was holding so it went between her butt cheeks
posted by vorpal bunny at 8:41 PM on January 26 [6 favorites]


I made it this far with a straight face, found in the section after the intro:

"Or one dude wants to fight and another doesn’t so the first dude just whales on the second dude."

Looking forward to the rest of the piece.
posted by 3FLryan at 9:23 PM on January 26


My own theory, base upon zero bar fights and a couple hasty chickenshit retreats.

One scenario is new guy in bar who has had one too many to effectively defend himself gets jumped by three guys who relish the opportunity to whomp on some stranger's ass, three on one, just for the hell of it.
posted by bukvich at 9:53 PM on January 26


@furnace.heart:

Yep. After I'd moved from Boston to San Francisco, whenever folks asked me what I felt the biggest difference to be, my answer was always the same: "You can go out drinking on a Saturday night and not worry about a fight breaking out because you looked the wrong way at a guy."
posted by armoir from antproof case at 9:57 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Once they were outside, it was just a matter of keeping them out. Sometimes they would come back to the front door and yell abuse at me and my partner, and my job was simply to make sure I stayed safe and wait until they either walked off in a huff or a police car came by and threatened to arrest them if they didn't clear out. It wasn't pleasant, but I never took it personally. If they got up in my face I would call some more bouncers out front to back me up, and they would make sure the person left.

Georges St. Pierre working along similar lines:
To be a bouncer at this place, I was probably one of the smallest guys, so I had to use my brain. In the street you can be as strong as you want, but nobody's faster than a bullet. Being a bouncer, according to me, it's more being able to talk and being able to use words instead of your arms to do the job. One time I had a problem with somebody and I was like 'Hey come outside. I need to talk you. The music is too loud.' And once we were outside, 'Sorry my friend. You hit on every girl, you make trouble, you grab the girls' asses. Tonight you're finished. You can come back tomorrow, I don't mind. It's nothing personal, but tonight is over.' (imitating club-goer) 'Oh you have no right to kick me out you motherfucker!' and I just said, 'Bye-bye, have a good night.'
posted by ignignokt at 10:05 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


There's a dive bar located about 1.5 blocks away from me. I don't go there often but I do go maybe 6-10 times a year. (It's super convenient because I can walk up there and not have to drive if I get drunk.) I'm not a regular but I'm a known quantity. Anyway, the only time I've ever almost gotten in a fight happened about 3 years ago. I'd been at the bar for a birthday party and this drunk woman had been a pain in the ass all freaking night. Every time she'd walk by my group's table she'd touch someone or say something snarky/hateful, at one point she blocked access to the bathroom so she could get her freak on, that kind of thing went on for 4-5 hours. Finally my group is sitting there chatting and this woman gets on the dance floor right in front of my seat and starts calling us all names. I don't know what it was that made me snap but I jumped up with a quickness I don't normally exhibit, got up pointing in her face and told her I was going fucking kill her. The waitress and bartender immediately came over, asked what was up, and kicked her and her friends out. This event very hilariously happened the same night the bouncer had come up to me and hugged me for never being any trouble. (At the point where I almost killed this woman the bouncer had gone home for the evening since it had been a quiet night.)

A few weeks later I was up at the bar again and this same woman showed up. She was told if she started any shit that they'd let me finish it. (I am not a fighter at all under normal circumstances but I can look really mean apparently.)
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 11:08 PM on January 26 [10 favorites]


(I am not a fighter at all under normal circumstances but I can look really mean apparently.)
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 11:08 PM on 1/26


Epony-waaaaah!
posted by Joe Chip at 11:24 PM on January 26 [6 favorites]


We just had a bar in town finally closed down after a decade of being a fight magnet. Among the incidents that are still mind-bendingly hard to believe:
* Bar owner (female) is married to assistant DA. Said ADA turns up in court one day as the defense attorney for a bar patron accused of assault in the bar. In Wisconsin it is illegal to act as a private attorney when you're a prosecutor; he narrowly avoided losing his license, but was fired from the DA's office.
* Eventually the police persuaded the bar to install video surveillance. A couple of years ago the police responded to a 911 call from a customer about a fight. They found the bar owner hastily exiting the bar office. She was accused of having deleted the video of a fight.
* After being placed on probation, with earlier closing hours, there were still four fights in a four-month period, one of them resulting in a pool of "wet blood" on the floor when police arrived (but all participants had vamoosed). Before the probation ended, police found patrons in the bar after closing time.
In the end the bar closed and went up for sale before a license revocation hearing could be held (which our police chief, who's been on the force his entire career, could not recall ever happening in our 60K city). Anyway, this seemed to me to be essentially a dysfunctional and enabling bar environment. There were claims that as soon as it closed the violent patrons would just find someplace else to drink but it's been pretty quiet, even over the holidays, polar vortex effects notwithstanding. So I wonder about that aspect -- seems there are definitely types of places where more violence is just going to happen.

Anyway, the final straw was a fight that was somewhat related to the article in that:
* a male patron was consensually (?) canoodling with a female, but she extricated herself, he grabbed at her, and she threw her drink at him.
* he responded by throwing a beer glass at her, but missed.
* the glass hit the face of a woman who had just come out of the bathroom.
All over in about five seconds -- indeed, the bouncers are escorting the guy out within 43 seconds of the abovementioned canoodling. [video] Not Hollywood at all, but guess what? Somebody went to the hospital.
posted by dhartung at 11:48 PM on January 26


furnace.heart: Number of bar-fights I've ever seen in, all my years of living and drinking in Portland, Oregon: 0
Number of bar-fights I've seen in in Boston, Mass that one night I went out there while visiting family: 3

It's a wonderful place, but when the sun sets in Boston, I get a little twitchy now.


Have you gone and hung out in NW on the weekends? I haven't heard of bar fights, but I've heard it gets pretty rowdy and I wouldn't be unsurprised if there were a few here and there.
posted by gucci mane at 12:43 AM on January 27


I mean NW Portland, not Boston. Apparently the Kell's up there attracts a lot of bros and they get really crazed on weekends.
posted by gucci mane at 12:44 AM on January 27


Roughly equal numbers of men and women filed these lawsuits.

All of them were people of moderate to low economic means. Most of them where white and aged between thirty to fifty years.

Large numbers of participants — plaintiffs and their companions, bar staff, (alleged) assailants, non-participatory eyewitnesses — had criminal records, usually for petty drug offences.

Everyone I can remember had tattoos,


It would seem he's describing Metafilter without the drinks. Despite the lack of a criminal record or any ink stains on my hide, I've certainly seen and been involved in my share of bar fights here.
posted by three blind mice at 1:07 AM on January 27


His selection set is heavily biased by the coverage selection of the insurance company he was working for.
posted by Mitheral at 1:41 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


I wonder how different this would be on a country by country basis, as in England, they seem to fight for the sake of fighting.

The strangest (almost) fight I had was about 8-10 years ago, after an England game in either the WC or Euros. So me and a mate are walking up a short, pedestrianised street, I am wearing my England top, and a guy in England top is arguing with his girlfriend in a doorway - nothing serious from the look of it, and he turns and looks at me and I grab my shirt and say "we we're cheated mate," as I felt many of the referee's decisions had been wrong. I think he thought I said "she's cheating mate" and he walked over and threw a punch. Fortunately he was pissed, so I swayed back and he missed by miles and at this point, his girlfriend dragged him away saying to him, "he's not talking about that you idiot," and to me,"sorry about that." So I go to my mates for a bit, maybe an hour, then go back the same way. As I'm walking down the same street I see someone at the bottom walking up in line with me. It will be a couple of minutes till we meet, but I move across to save any hassle, and look down and keep walking. Well he has moved in line with me, and I move left and right a couple of times and each time he moves to stay in line with me. Then I realise this is the guy from earlier and I think, "oh shit, I'm gonna get a pasting here, try not to look scared." And then we are close and he says, "did I throw a punch at you earlier?" "Yes," I say, trying to stay calm and steel myself. And he says: "Sorry mate, I was well out of order, I just misunderstood what you said. We're both England, we shouldn't be fighting." So man, was that a lucky escape.
posted by marienbad at 3:46 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Women were faster to employ weapons, whether prepared (the knife) or improvised. Improvised weapons are almost always thrown, and have included highball glasses, pool balls, bar stools, knives, and in one notable case, the assailant’s own feces.

Women are BRUTAL in barfights. I have seen somewhere between 3 and 7 female vs. female barfights. They ALL started out with dudes cheering...and then there comes a "thud". Thats when one girl sits on top of the other girls chest, grabs her hair with both hands, lifts her arms up and then SLAMS it down causing the woman on the bottom to have the back of her head smash against the floor.

There is an audible "aughwww" from the crowd, and many guys probably say to themselves "you know...maybe i should date dudes".


When guys fight in bars, it seems like they are trying to:
1. win the fight
2. look cool while doing it.

Girls don't give a shit. Their goal is to cause as much harm to the other girl as possible. Its fucking scary.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:21 AM on January 27


But based on what I heard from dozens of witnesses, those bar fighters who initiate confrontations with other patrons (as opposed to reacting badly to being 86′ed by the staff) do so as a substitute for obtaining sexual release.

Yeah. These are the fights that happen at 3am after the bars close and a group of guys that were unsuccessful with the lades meets another group of guys who were unsuccessful with the ladies.

I seriously think that if these dudes had someone to make out with, they wouldn't be trying to break each other's noses.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:23 AM on January 27


These guys sound too stupid to have a good time.
posted by dr_dank at 4:39 AM on January 27


I have never seen a fight in a gay bar.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 4:52 AM on January 27


Was just hanging out with a friend-of-a-friend who does security at a dive bar to pay for his crippling Muay Thai addiction. My unscientific recollection of his anecdotes back up the "mostly people getting cut off" line.
posted by Skorgu at 5:40 AM on January 27


Google "and then returned to the bar" and you'll know why I tend to leave a bar after merely seeing a fight.
posted by klarck at 5:57 AM on January 27 [4 favorites]


Group of 7 friends or so standing in a circle toward the back of the bar. Some jagoff enters our circle and asks very quietly and sincerely, "Why are you such a bitch?" I'm a little confused. "You look confused, friend, I am a human, and not a bitch," I say back to him. He repeats his question just as quietly. I could take this guy, no problem, but I ask him how he's feeling and ask him why he would want to ruin someone's evening by pursuing this line of questioning, then I ask him a couple more ridiculous questions like if he thinks Madonna has still got it or if she's fading? He stands between myself and a friend who is 6'5 250. This guy is around 5.5 feet tall. He calls us both assholes. My tall friend laughs and goes back to his conversation. I keep engaging the drunk and I ask him if he prefers Byron or Keats and I say he looks like a Keats-man, then I turn him around and gently encourage him to find someone else to talk to. He is confused, but walks away.

We leave the bar not much later and my tall friend is randomly high-fiveing people on Carson Street and without realizing it, he high-fives the agitator from the first bar. This guy looks even more confused and, now, utterly defeated.

I wouldn't necessarily recommend using smarm to disarm a drunk, unless you have six friends standing by giving you the confidence to do so.
posted by GrapeApiary at 6:00 AM on January 27 [7 favorites]


I saw a bar fight once. It was a sandbar. It didn't go well. I smelled like the beach for a week, had grit in my hair. Rough scene.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:23 AM on January 27 [3 favorites]


Additionally, 100% of the bar fights I have witnessed happened while playing Rugby and with my team.

That's funny, my team has prevented at least half a dozen bar fights. You'd be surprised at how quickly two dudes will cool off when a pair of 6'5" 300 lb locks tell them there's going to be a problem if they don't sit down and shut up. The only people that seemed like they were interested in starting a fight when we were around were a group of off-duty bail bondsmen and some aging bikers.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 8:41 AM on January 27


I seriously think that if these dudes had someone to make out with, they wouldn't be trying to break each other's noses.

I have never seen a fight in a gay bar.


so instead of throwing people out we just make them engage in light petting for a bit?
posted by The Whelk at 9:17 AM on January 27


I have never seen a fight in a gay bar

I'm queer and a former bartender, and I loved to work men's bars and avoided the women's. Most of it was the tipping/overall receipts issue - lesbians tip less than 6%, and purchases per patron are a quarter to a third what men spend.

But the other issue are the fights. Physical fights, usually pushed out the door, most nights. I even lived above Seattle's dyke bar, the Wild Rose. Which put the drunken brawls and sobbing right under my window. The cops were there Fri-Sun night every weekend. Usually on foot, as the station was a block away. They never have less than two bouncers at the door and at least one inside. The comparably-sized gay men's bar I worked at down the street had no police calls for over two years.
posted by Dreidl at 10:40 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


I wonder how many fights they have in Amsterdam coffee shops.

One of the worst reflections on drinking culture I ever had came after coming home from an evening at a coffee shop and passing by a bar going at full WOOOOOO tilt. Seemed awful and regressive by comparison.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 1:14 PM on January 27


I have never seen a fight in a gay bar.

I don't know who you guys are hanging out with, but one of the bigger brawlers out of my friends is gay. Among other things, he's done the "I'm too plastered to hang out OR leave gracefully!" thing and ended up with his shoes lost somewhere/split lip/torn clothes, and he's also had some major public fistfights with his (now ex) boyfriend in which he ended up in situations like: waking up covered in bruises on a random street in a foreign country (THANKS! says the State Department, I'm sure), and just generally he's a sloppy, sloppy, sloppy drunk. I haven't drunk in a public place with him since I was maybe 21 because of it.

I, on the other hand, am one of those people who will walk into a place, get a vibe, and literally run out the [back]door (thank goodness -- that has actually saved my ass time and again in ways both big and small). Totally concur that a lot of the time, you can tell if something's "off" way before anything actually happens. Not always, though, unfortunately.

Anyway, I think that men tend to have more of a "let's fight for the hell of it!" attitude than women do, and people in the UK seem extraordinarily up for fighting for the hell of it, which freaked me the hell out when I was living there. One time I was trying to hang out with my friend in the same pub as always (probably in some incredibly boring way, it might have been dinnertime on a Tuesday for all I remember) and this one very drunk girl kept darting over to cuss in my face. She was obviously trying to start a fight. Thankfully, I'm relatively used to being around crazy people (and couldn't understand what she trying to tell me anyway, between her being drunk and apparently VERY English) and would just sort of let her flip out until her friends finally dragged her away, but it happened three or four times within twenty minutes. Still don't know what that was about! I can be an angry drunk too, but it's less "let's brawwwwwwl!" and more "I wish I weren't so drunk because I want this remark to be EXTRA cutting!"

“I’m not very likely to get laid today, so instead I’ll fight with someone,” seems to be roughly the thought pattern here.

Otherwise known as, "Aw, fuck* it!"

*pun!
posted by rue72 at 7:17 PM on January 27


Have you gone and hung out in NW on the weekends? I haven't heard of bar fights, but I've heard it gets pretty rowdy and I wouldn't be unsurprised if there were a few here and there.

I used to hit up Molly Maguires pretty frequently, and while i'm sure there was a fight or two that broke out there, I never saw it…other than that I never really went drinking downtown. Mostly my haunts were dives where everyone was pretty mellow. One of my favorite bars of all time became a haven for white supremacists, and a group of us were asked to leave because we had a latino friend with us….it was tense, terrifying, and no less insane than a bar fight, but it never escalated to violence.

And now we live in SE out by 82nd, in Lents, and now that there's the furnace.toddler around I don't go out drinking in peak bar-fight times. I'm sure it happens.

But sweet jesus, everyone I know that started drinking in Boston has a story about being in a bar fight.
posted by furnace.heart at 7:23 PM on January 27


Mitheral: "His selection set is heavily biased by the coverage selection of the insurance company he was working for."

Which he explicitly acknowledged in the article.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:03 PM on January 28


I've been the bouncer/door guy at a fairly busy bar (not divey) for about four years now. Fights are indeed done with in about 5 seconds although they can go for 10-15 if there is travelling and also if no one notices that the incident has started. It's not really a fight at that point but posturing and some blows or a blow.

I'm definitely authorized to restrain someone if a fight is breaking out or about to break out although usually the best thing to do is attempt to speak to one of the parties and have them walk away with you. If the fight has already started? Take the person you know the most so when you're dragging them away they're less likely to fight.

I will concur that the time I attempted to break up a fight between girls I got more savagely hurt than any fight with guys. In their defense, I do have long hair and they may have just been confused, but while I was trying to separate two girls one pulled my hair really hard (I think she got a good bunch of hairs in her fist) and the other attempted to slam my head into the sidewalk. I handled that situation quickly only to see my friend being bitten in the arm through a winter coat by a girl. I still think he has a scar from that. It was most definitely the messiest/savage fight I've ever seen.

The girl who pulled my hair? A friend of mine I was extricating from the fight.
posted by lizarrd at 1:26 PM on January 28


Chrysostom: "Which he explicitly acknowledged in the article."

Ya, that was supposed to be a response to a comment arguing that that wasn't the commentator's experience but now I can't find it and that probably should be a lesson to me not to be commenting at 2AM after having been up for 21 hours straight.
posted by Mitheral at 3:53 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Google "and then returned to the bar" and you'll know why I tend to leave a bar after merely seeing a fight.

Holy cow, klarck is not kidding. From the preview of the second hit:

"Burton allegedly got into a fight at a Northern California bar, ran out to his truck and then returned to the bar wielding a chain saw."

And the search results go on like that for pages...
posted by BrashTech at 8:09 AM on January 31


klarck: "Google "and then returned to the bar" and you'll know why I tend to leave a bar after merely seeing a fight."

We were at Ashkenaz in Berkeley the night David Nadel was murdered after he ejected a drunk.

Ever since then, household policy is that if we're somewhere and a fight breaks out, we leave and don't return until the next day at the earliest.
posted by Lexica at 7:19 PM on February 9


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