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10/15/2015 - Where did the word 'Bouncer' come from?

Ah…going to the bar or club tonight? As usual as you are walking to the establishment you are greeted by typically a big guy asking for your I.D. That person is the Bouncer aka doorman, security, gatekeeper, cooler. So where did this name actually come from and how far back does this position go in history? I had my hunches about the name. Just think about some unruly patron being picked up and thrown out the front door and they “bounce” off the pavement. Well if you thought the same thing then you would be….correct! The word "bouncer" was first popularized in a novel by Horatio Alger, Jr., called The Young Outlaw, which was first published in 1875. Chapter 14 was entitled “Bounced”. Basically a customer didn’t have money to pay for his lunch so he needed to be “bounced”. A London Daily News article from 1883 stated "'The Bouncer' is merely the English 'chucker out'. When liberty verges on license and gaiety on wanton delirium, the Bouncer selects the gayest of the gay, and—bounces him!" The earliest recording of a doorman comes from a number of Mesopotamian myths, including that of Nergal overcoming the seven doormen guarding the gates to the Underworld. Ostiarius was the Roman word for doorkeeper, initially a slave, who guarded the door, and sometimes ejected unwanted people from the house whose gate he guarded. Eventually evolving through history to guard saloons and brothels in the Old West up until today for bars and nightclubs the position of “Bouncer” is a nightlife staple. So tonight when you hand over your I.D. to gain entry into the bar.

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