How to Deal with Customers
Dealing with verbally abusive, aggressive and drunken customers & other unacceptable behaviour
Dancers stressed that putting in place the general safety tips were important in preventing and managing verbally abusive, aggressive and drunken clients and other unacceptable behaviour. A number of things were flagged up;
- Decide what customers you are comfortable with: some dancers were clear that they do not go with customers who were very drunk for example, they said they learn to spot very drunk and aggressive customers and don’t approach them.
- Always ask the customer if they have been for a dance before and then remind them of the rules.
- Give them a couple of chances but then they are out and call security. It’s best to get security to deal with such problem customers.
- Be firm: some dancers also had wider experience of bar work and stressed as in bar work you need to apply standard practice used in those environments where customers are warned and if persistent are asked to leave the establishment.
- Walk away: you do not have to tolerate any verbally abusive or aggressive clients: remember it’s your choice whether to work with the customer or not if they are being in anyway unreasonable! The club should back you up on this. This includes racist and homophobic abuse, this should not be tolerated and indeed can be classed as a hate incident.
- With stag groups be even more aware of space!
- Dancers’ approach to dealing with drunken and problem customers depended on their assessment of the situation and the kind of person they were dealing with: dancers for example described how some drunken customers were easier to deal with, more passive compared to others who may get abusive and out of control.
- Keep your distance: don’t dance near to customers who are drunk.
- Some dancers advise using “calming” and de-escalation techniques which they developed in the course of their work to deal with problem customers. The Suzy Lamplugh Trust advise the following such techniques for dealing with an aggressive customer;
- Try to stay calm and keep your body language relaxed but confident.
- Keep a distance if possible - so they can’t lay a hand on you or you don’t invade their personal space.
- Don’t put a hand on them to calm them down, as this will be seen as invading their personal space and will only make them more aggressive.
- Tell them their behaviour is upsetting you and that they should stop. Remember, a large percentage of any message is put across by body language and tone of voice. So when telling them make sure your body language and voice sound confident and assertive.
- If appropriate, keep them talking until assistance arrives and try to show them that you are listening and respecting what they are saying.
- Stay in control of your own reactions. Avoid reacting to their aggression with any sign of aggression of your own, as this will only escalate the situation.
- Never feel that you have to stay and deal with a situation yourself. If in doubt, summon help or get away if possible. Better to be safe than sorry.
Stay calm, maximise your distance, change your tone of voice and increase volume - firmer and more assertive, give a warning, tell them they are being threatening (drunks sometimes don’t notice)
REMEMBER - DO NOT TOLERATE ANY TOUCHING!!!!
If one girl allows touching – “why shouldn’t another?” will be the punters viewpoint. DON’T put yourself or other girls at risk
Dancers described a number of ways they responded to non consensual touching and tips for dealing with such. Some of these were the same for dealing with abusive and aggressive customers;
- Give a firm warning and be assertive before calling security or walking away.
- Call in security if the touching persists and warnings are not heeded.
- Make customers keep their hands to their sides or behind them.
- Alerting customers to the presence of CCTV can work as a deterrent to touching, e.g. ‘Sorry sweets, there is no touching - we’re on camera - so you’ll get thrown out and I’ll get sacked.’ Using the cameras as a way of controlling clients allows you to blame someone other than yourself for not allowing customers to touch - which helps stop potential aggression towards you.
- Positioning of the body is very important and being careful to position so customers cannot easily touch certain parts of your body.
- Be alert during dancing, watch customers carefully, have your hands ready and use hands to protect yourself from and deter unwanted touching. Stop customer’s hands with yours if you see they are about to use them: some dancers described how when they first started dancing in clubs where there were strict rules re distance, they were taught how to use their hands to cover parts of their body e.g. their vagina. This was a skill they still used.
Tell them from the beginning you are not allowed to touch. If you see he is not nice just keep a distance and he can’t do anything. You have to be straight and say no to touching. I would always go to the doorman if there was any trouble and the customer understands that
REMEMBER: You do not have to tolerate any touching and you can walk away immediately: touching is a breach of the house and licensing rules on the part of the customer!!
Touching you without your consent in law is a crime. In law it could be either a form of assault or a sexual assault depending on what has taken place.
In law under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (England and Wales) sexual assault is any kind of sexual activity that you do not agree to, it can include: inappropriate touching, vaginal, oral or anal penetration (with a body part or anything else) that you have said no to. Sexual assault can happen to women or men of any age, and a sexual assault can take place anywhere including your home or workplace. Sexual assault is a serious crime with severe penalties. In Scottish Law most of the tenets of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 are to be found in the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009.
REMEMBER ALL LICENSED EROTIC DANCE CLUBS IN ENGLAND & WALES ARE NON-CONTACT WITH NO TOUCHING (APART FROM SOME VERY LIMITED FORMS OF TOUCH PERMITTED IN SOME AREAS SUCH AS LEADING BY THE HAND TO THE BOOTH). THIS IS ALSO SUPPOSED TO BE THE CASE IN SCOTLAND. THIS SHOULD BE MADE CLEAR TO CUSTOMERS BY MANAGERS AND DANCERS. CLUBS BREAK THEIR LICENSING CONDITIONS IF CONTACT TAKES PLACE AND CAN LOSE THEIR LICENCES. THIS IS WHY NO TOUCHING IS ONE OF THE MAIN HOUSE RULES. CLUBS ARE INSISTING ON NO CONTACT TO FULFILL LEGAL CONDITIONS.
IF A FIGHT BREAKS OUT
Whilst many dancers said in their experience there was less trouble in dance clubs compared with other bars and clubs, some had encountered fights in clubs they had worked. Key safety advice is;
- Don’t intervene: move away and alert security immediately.