Here’s part of a 2001 article I wrote:
By STEVE SAILER, UPI National Correspondent
MOSCOW, June 29—Late one night outside Munich’s Nacht-Caf—a dance club so exclusive that just a few weeks earlier its formidable platoon of doormen had turned away German tennis legend Boris Becker for wearing sandals instead of shoes—a ferociously drunk man demanded admittance.
Denied, the burly drunk screamed threats at the head bouncer from inches away, then ripped his shirt open to display his powerful pectoral muscles. The doorman didn’t flinch, but his four well-trained subordinates quickly formed a phalanx behind him. The boss bouncer coolly took out a pack of cigarettes, tapped one out, lit it and blew smoke in the dangerous drunk’s face.
Intimidated, the screamer slunk off without a fight.
What the drunk couldn’t see, though, was that behind the head doorman’s cool facade, his back was trembling. This was highly evident, though, to political scientist Frank Salter, who was standing behind the doormen videotaping the confrontation as part of his study of dominance. Salter saw this a classic example of what “ethologists” (scientists who study the biological basis of behavior) describe as the adrenaline-charged “fight-or-flight” response.
“It’s called the ‘tremors,’” the leader explained to Salter later. “I can control my front, but not my back. When my fist sinks into his flesh for the first time, though, I lose the tremors.”
Salter, an Australian Ph.D. now with the Max Planck Institute in Germany, said he learned during his study in Munich and Brisbane, Australia, that barroom bouncers are “tradesmen of hand-to-hand combat and social dominance.”
While hosting a Moscow conference on evolution and human behavior in Moscow last June, Salter reviewed the findings of his groundbreaking study. During quiet times, the bouncers he studied had studied [sic] exchange tips and strategies (what Salter calls “social technology”) on their three favorite subjects: sex, violence, and drinking.
“They’re more sophisticated on fighting than on getting women,” Salter observed, in an interview conducted June 23. “They engage in very technical talk about fighting tactics.” For example, Salter listened to well-informed debates over how soon to try to get an opponent down on the ground in order to “put the boot in” (as Australians call kicking a man when he’s down.)
Yet, a good professional bouncer prefers to verbally intimidate potentially violent drunks.
“Bouncers can all fight,” Salter noted, “But they rank each other by their talking ability. The lowest ranked fought the most. The highest ranked had the best social skills.” Salter found, “The best bouncers and doormen are articulate and quick with comebacks.” …
While bouncers might not be traditional subjects for scientific study, they provided Salter with vivid examples of the kind of dominance hierarchies among humans that Nobel Laureate Konrad Lorenz studied among barnyard fowl and Jane Goodall observed among chimpanzees. Salter decided to study bouncers when a friend told him, “Hey, you want dominance, go to nightclubs.” …
Read the whole thing there.