BEHIND THE SCENES: In our story about the character of artistes at public places, Halima Namakula, one of the people we spoke to said that sometimes artistes are handled in a disrespectful way by security/ bouncers. Isaac Ssejjombwe sought out some stakeholders in this field on the behaviour of artistes and how they treat them under various circumstances.
With the events surrounding Mowzey Radio’s death still a mystery, bouncers have been put to check with many pointing fingers at them for ‘man-handling’ artistes. Now we have learnt that the association that brings together Ugandan bouncers is working tooth and nail to amend their rules and regulations to see that their reputation is not tarnished. With those measure comes a preliquisite for a certain kind of professionalism. Some artistes are known to be conflict people and if it is not them, it is their hangers on causing chaos. But how professional are some of these people that man security at city hangouts frequented by artistes?
At Club Guvnor, one of the popular nightspots, many have fallen victim of the wrath of the mean-looking bouncers, but you cannot blame these huge built people that man the security doors.
Trimming to size
For the 10 years the club has been in existence, it has banned quite a number of celebrities because of indiscipline. Even before it became Guvnor, Angenoir as it was known, was reported to be the first club to ban Radio and Weasel from the club at a time when they were the biggest duo in East Africa. It was then that the duo released the song Kiduula, hitting at Charlie Lubega the club owner.
Mark Ssentongo, the head of security at Guvnor, said they have a yardstick, where management has the right of admission and that if someone disorganises other people’s privacy, they have to act. “We have a policy at Guvnor that customer is the boss but we also have a yardstick that we follow. If a celebrity becomes stubborn, we talk to them privately but if dialogue fails, then we can think of banning them,” he said.
According to him, Guvnor’s ban can last between six months and a year, which singer Jose Chameleone is currently serving.
The ban could even be indefinite, depending on what someone does but there is room for apology if the apology is genuine. Ssentongo, however, notes that applying physical power against clients is out of the question at the club. He added that the security is made up of both bouncers and police to handle situations that involve fists.
Respect runs the show
Sam Kaqubala, the head of security at Liquid Silk, says it is important for both celebrities and bouncers to respect eachother. He notes that as the bouncers are doing their jobs while celebrities are clients of the club. He said this because many times bouncers are disrespected by many people who think standing in the corridors or by the door is a job that can only be done by unschooled people. He did not limit this to only celebrities but every client that comes to the bar.
“Fighting in clubs or using abusive languages is not only done by musicians. Even ordinary people do it. In fact, they are the most cases we come across,” he said. Kaqubala added that unlike ordinary people, celebrities get some special treatment because of their status and in case they misbehave, security separates them from the rest of the crowd, opens up a dialogue and if that fails, then they are told to leave.
Again if that fails, then some reasonable force can be applied, not to hurt but to pass on a message. He said in his three-year experience at Liquid silk, he has not come across such scenarios where celebrities make a nuisance of themselves.
Unruly celebs, tough call
Bars and nightclubs, may sound a little manageable in terms of controlling. But how about outdoor events? According to Phillip Lubogo, the CEO Core Events Services, a security company that has handled events such as Blankets and Wine, Neyo, Tekno and Eazy, Roast and Rhyme and Morgan Heritage, among others, he has his way of doing things. “I have an understanding with the police and counter terrorism unit so in case of chaos, they handle the situation accordingly but if the police is not available, my security personnel have ways of containing the situation,” Lubogo says.
He narrates two scenarios where artiste Jose Chameleon was trying to cause chaos but they contained him: “During the Konshens and Alaine show at Lugogo Cricket Oval, Chameleone along with his aides caused chaos backstage. His aides even stole Alaine’s jewellery and in the process of recovering it, he slapped one of the security officers. The situation was later calmed down and everything went back to normal because the jewellery was recovered.”
At the Morgan Heritage show, Chameleone forced his way backstage yet it was a no-go area for everyone apart from the band and the Jamaican artiste. He sneaked in and even changed his shirt to disguise himself. After being tipped off, Lubogo along with other security personnel, went and talked to the artiste and convinced him to leave with his people. The security guru attributes some artistes’ behaviour to pride and fame.
“These artistes and celebrities think they are untouchable. They think they can access places because of their face value but at some events, everyone has to follow the rules,” he said. From the two encounters with Chameleone, Lubogo says they are now friends with the musician and he has never been a problem since. For him, it all goes back to respect for eachother.
Cosmas Byamukama, the head of security at Legends Rugby Grounds, says very few cases have been recorded at this hangout yet it is frequented by celebrities. However, they handle celebrities basing on how they come in.
“If a celebrity tries to cause chaos, we first engage their peers, especially their managers because it is on rare occassions that they move around on their own. We tell them to calm their friends,” said Byamukama.
“If that fails, we isolate them from the rest of the crowd and this is done to prevent panic, calm them and if need be, we have police in uniform who we engage to act accordingly.”
Police is involved because they know how to handle such situations and in case of any hazard, the bar is not in any way responsible.
Some security personell such as Dixon Okello have the art of keeping celebs in check. Okello is a professional events personnel, having attained his high level of skills from Egypt, South Africa and Greece, as he says. Besides being good at what he does, Okello is known to be a no-nonsense person at events.
“I am hardcore. I use force where necessary because these celebrities assume the public owes them a lot. Because they are public figures, they think they will get the sympathy of the crowd. I do not entertain such nonsense,” he says.
This guy is not nicknamed James Bond for nothing. He is the guy who will smile with you in the day but if he is at the security point at an event that evening, he does not know you.
Having started his work in 2009 professionally, Okello has seen it all and done it all. He says his worst experience in this field was when he was dealt with rowdy revellers in Luweero in 2012 after Chameleone refused to perform on three consecutive occasions. The situation was tense, he says, but since then, he has been able to contain every situation, from football matches, to performances.
Okello brags that there are things that musicians cannot afford to do when he is at an event: “There is no musician whether small or big that does not give me respect. When I say no, I mean no. Whether it is Chameleone, Bebe Cool, Gravity or Kenzo,” he says.
And to prove his point, Okello says whenever he is handling an event, you will never see musicians smoking backstage, walking around with many people and people’s property such as phones, wallets, among others are safe.
Bouncers and their role
A bouncer, also known as a doorman, door supervisor or cooler, is a type of security guard, employed at venues such as bars, nightclubs or concerts. A bouncer’s duties are to provide security, check legal age, to refuse entry for intoxicated persons, and to deal with aggressive behaviour or non-compliance with established rules. In many countries, federal or state governments have taken steps to professionalise the industry by requiring bouncers to have training, licensing, and a criminal records background check.