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Nightclubs Exposed: A Culture of Drug Gangs and Violence

Across the country the authorities routinely close nightclubs because of allegations that drugs are openly sold and taken on the premises. It is claimed that door staff at these clubs are in league with drug dealers and together they are making huge amounts in illegal profits. But how widespread exactly is the problem? When the super club the Ministry of Sound opened in London’s Elephant and Castle in 1991 it could hold 2,000 people and take as much as £40,000 a weekend (Mail Online - How I risked my life kicking the drug gangs out of my club). However this figure was superseded by the sales of illegal drugs which were estimated to be around £50,000 a weekend. The owner of the club, James Palumbo, complained to the authorities that gangsters had taken over the club and he was powerless to do anything about it. When, with the help of the 

police, he did manage to finally rid the dealers from the club he boasted it was the ‘only drug free club in Britain’.

It is apparent to anyone that drugs are a problem in many nightclubs across the country. Each year in the UK young people are killed as a result of taking illegal drugs in nightclubs. The illegal drugs which are popular in nightclubs are ecstasy (MDMA), ketamine, GHB and Rohypnol (National Institute on Drug Abuse - Club Drugs). Illegally manufactured drugs like ecstasy are a hazard as bad batches can be particularly dangerous and there is also the continual risk of overdose occurring within a nightclub environment. The use in nightclubs of GHB and Rohypnol must also be a concern as they both can be used as date rape drugs. Users of GHB and Rohypnol report a loss of inhibitions but the chemicals can also produce amnesia which is why they are also used as date rape drugs (K-State Perspectives - Rohypnol, GHB Fact Sheet). It seems ironic that these two chemicals are both illegally administered to unsuspecting victims with the clear intention of date rape in the very same nightclubs where they are also sold as recreational drugs (Wikipedia - Date rape drug).

Lines of Molly in a nightclub

Lines of 'Molly' drawn up in a nightclub. Also known as ecstacy or MDMA.

Often it is the case that nightclubs in principal don’t really work anyway. To most they are simply an excuse for drinking far too much alcohol which itself can be a dangerous exercise. It is not uncommon to see vomit on the floor of nightclubs and with so many drunken people around fights can also break out. Fights in nightclub can at times be quite violent and chairs and bottles can be thrown or used as weapons. Inevitably this can lead to injuries and sometimes even death (Global Campaign for Violence Protection - Youth Violence, Alcohol and Nightlife).


However the behaviour of the nightclub ‘bouncers’ at times can be little better. Rather than helping to maintain order in nightclubs the bouncers themselves appear to be part of the problem. There are scores of videos on YouTube showing bouncers assaulting clubbers where it is quite clear such behaviour is completely unnecessary. In one video we see a male clubber talking to a bouncer outside a nightclub and although we can’t hear what is being said it seems he must have said something to annoy the bouncer as he starts punching him in the head. Two other bouncers also join in punching him in the head until he is knocked unconscious. His girlfriend attempts to intervene and come to his rescue but she also is punched round the head. As the man regains his senses and attempts to stand up he is again punched unconscious. 

Aftermath of bottle fight in nightclub

The aftermath of a bottle fight at a nightclub.

In another video a fight has broken out in a nightclub and the bouncers have managed to regain some sort of order and one of the bouncers is sat down talking to a female who appears to have become distressed by what has happened. Again we can’t hear what is said but the bouncer inexplicably and without warning punches the seated female in the side of the head. In a third video a group of bouncers approach an isolated man standing in the road opposite a nightclub and in an apparent unprovoked attack take turns punching him in the head and continue punching him even when he is on the ground. This continues for some time until eventually the police turn up. However instead of having words with the nightclub bouncers the police immediately start roughing up the assault victim and drag him off to the police car where they throw him against the bonnet and handcuff him. The crowd of onlookers hate this and openly jeer the police whereas before they didn’t seem too concerned about the bouncers beating him up. But how ironic is such behaviour when we consider that all bouncers are required to hold a license by the government to operate as nightclub doormen? (UK Home Office - Security Industry Authority, Door Supervision)


It is also an indisputable fact that a number of known gang bosses have publically presented themselves as nightclub owners. Dave King, also known as Rolex Dave, was originally a nightclub doorman who was involved in drug dealing who eventually became a nightclub owner himself. He was a member of the Essex Boys gang and his club, the Renaissance in Stevenage, gained a bad reputation for drug dealing. In 2003 he was gunned down while leaving a Hertfordshire fitness centre (London Evening Standard - Hoddesdon gym victim's past revealed). The Melbourne based Alphonse Gangitano, who was involved in the Carlton Crew, owned a number of nightclubs. During his criminal career he was involved in the violent assaults that took place at a Melbourne nightclub and allegedly murdered a friend of his over a debt. Gangitano was himself murdered in 1998 (BuzzFeed - Australia's 20 Most Notorious Gangsters).

Nightclub doormen

Security at a typical nightclub door.

In the swinging sixties the infamous Kray twins were the owners of a popular nightclub in London’s West End where they rubbed shoulders with celebrities and even politicians (Wikipedia - Kray twins). The twins gained an almost celebrity status themselves and were even interviewed on television and photographed by David Bailey. More recently the mobster Chris Paciello, who had connections with the New York Cosa Nostra, opened a nightclub in Miami funded by the proceeds of a bank robbery (Wikipedia - Chris Paciello). While a nightclub owner he became friendly with the likes of Madonna, Jennifer Lopez and Naomi Campbell. London’s nightclubs in the recent past have had a reputation of being owned by the mafia (The Spectator - How London nightclubs became a national export).


According to Mike Bolhuis, who previously worked as a nightclub bouncer himself, the nightclub security industry in South Africa has been almost entirely corrupted by drug dealers (iol news - Nightclub bouncers 'part of drug mafia'). Nightclub doormen are routinely involved either in dealing in drugs themselves or are knowingly allowing drug dealers to operate. According to Bolhuis the corruption extends as far as the police and state prosecutors who are prepared to look the other way when it comes to profitable criminal activity. Criminal proceedings against the nightclub owners and doormen are routinely blocked by missing documentation or direct intimidation of the prosecutors themselves.


Knowing how seamy some of these nightclubs can be and of how notoriously unreliable the nightclub security can be, you have to ask yourselves are you really happy to allow your teenage daughters to spend most of the night while under the influence of alcohol and possibly also illegal drugs, in establishments such as these? We also have to ask ourselves how safe exactly it is for well known celebrities to visit premises such as these considering that some of these celebrities are reported to be worth as much as a billion dollars on paper? As a result of corruption it would seem that many of these nightclubs have been given a free reign by the authorities to do almost anything they like. Surely this is a dangerous situation and one which is well overdue for legal review by the appropriate governmental authorities?    

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