Why do nightclub bouncers think they’re above the law? I attended a Divx party at some place called Moon at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas for CES. (Divx actually has some neat stuff on the way, but that’s a matter for another day.) Like always, I had my camera, a Canon DSLR, hanging around my neck. This, having a camera, wasn’t an issue at the Divx party, which ended at 11:00pm, but it most certainly became an issue a few hours later. Photographers take note!
Following the Divx party, which was 100 percent okie dokie, another one started up. People were welcome to stay at Moon just that it was no longer a Divx event. I think the new party had something to do with the Adult Video Awards or whatever. With this new party, apparently, came new rules, rules that were not made clear to attendees who had stayed over from Divx. The rule that got me in hot water: no cameras allowed.
So I’m walking around the venue and decide to take some photos of these young ladies who were dancing. Harmless, so I thought. I take my photo and a rather large bouncer, comparable in size and statue to Chief from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, RIPS THE CAMERA RIGHT OUT OF MY HANDS. I think my initial reaction was, “umm… what did I do?” The bouncer says something like, “There’s no fucking cameras allowed in here. Come the fuck with me.” Really aggressive language for no real reason. So he leads me (well, orders me to follow him) to the back of the venue where another big guy orders me to show him the photos I took. Not knowing any better, and really not trying to make a scene—it’s pretty damn scary to have two guys significantly larger than you bullying you around, so cooperation is the name of the game—I show him the photos. I tell them things like, “Nobody told me cameras weren’t allowed. If someone had told me of course I would have put it in my bag.” Of course, that’s greeted with, “Shut the fuck up and just stand against the fucking wall.” Someone else enters the scene and takes my drivers license. Needless to say I’m freaking out internally. I’m not exactly in the business of purposely trying to stir up trouble.
Some time goes by, like around 10 to 15 minutes of me just standing against the wall trying to explain to these people that there were no signs posted, no announcements made or whatever that cameras weren’t allowed anymore. At the end of this ordeal I’m asked to leave the venue and was escorted outside. Again, everything was super aggressive on their end, when all I’m trying to do is figure out what was going on.
My questions: are bouncers allowed to violently snatch a camera out of your hands while using all sorts of threatening language? Are bouncers allowed to demand to see all the photos that are stored on a memory card? I’m guessing not, but you try articulating that to a bunch of huge men who are in the business of scaring the shit out of you for no particular reason. As far as I know, the bouncers absolutely can ask you to put the camera away or, if they deem fit, ask you to leave. (At which point, I still believe you can refuse to leave, but then you’d be trespassing and the police would be called. Clearly I have no interest in getting the police involved, or getting punched in the face by some huge guy.)
Needless to say, I shan’t be going to Moon or the Palms again. (Who knows, maybe I’m now on some sort of “do not allow” list.) Let my mistake be a lesson for y’all.