ON THIS DATE IN CITY GARDENS HISTORY: September 27th, 1987 - Bouncers Describe The Biggest Fight in City Gardens' History

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Hoodoo Gurus – September 27, 1987

Randy Now: That was the most violent show in City Gardens’ history. You would think it would be Fear or the Circle Jerks, but no. It was the Hoodoo Gurus.

Jim Norton (City Gardens security/stage manager): The biggest bouncer fight ever at City Gardens? People getting dragged out and beaten up by six bouncers? The biggest, most violent episode that I know of was not Murphy’s Law, was not Agnostic Front, and it was not the Exploited. It was not at a Slayer show. The biggest, weirdest, bouncers-beating-people- up episode at City Gardens was the Hoodoo Gurus. Yes, the Hoodoo Gurus. In terms of a full-on brawl between security and patrons, the winner is Hoodoo Gurus. Like I have said, not everybody was cut from my same “why can’t we all get along” community cloth. There were definitely people [working at City Gardens] who were antagonistic, and I didn’t care for them. I didn’t want to be closely associated with them. On a couple of occasions, I tried to get people fired for stuff that was obviously out of line. So, the Hoodoo Gurus play, and there were these two guys who were 6’4”, 6’5”. Big dudes, probably bigger than most football players. They showed up and they had this general frat-guy look about them. They didn’t look threatening. They didn’t dress up or anything. They were probably just wearing rugby shirts and windbreakers. The Hoodoo Gurus were… kind of a punk band… if you were not at all into punk. Good solid rock band, but not really punk. They started playing, and these two guys—in a crowd of people who wanted nothing to do with moshing or slamming—start swinging their arms around at everybody. And they are, by far, the biggest people in the club. So, a couple of bouncers go in to calm them down, and these guys put up a fight. The bouncers, rather than backing off, decide that the move is punching these guys. You’ve got two or three bouncers fighting two or three guys twice their size in the middle of a crowd. Then more bouncers who were inclined toward that sort of behavior get involved as well, and the whole thing moves out the double doors. Normally the protocol for that sort of thing is to get the offender outside and then close the double doors, which have no handles on the outside. The offenders are on the outside of a brick building with no windows looking at two doors that don’t have handles, and you’re on the inside. Ha ha… joke’s on them! They’re out $24, and you go on with your merry life. That’s what you’re supposed to do.

Jim Norton,    stage manager to the stars, tells his tale while being filmed for “   Riot on the Dance Floor   .” Photo by    Ken Salerno

Jim Norton, stage manager to the stars, tells his tale while being filmed for “Riot on the Dance Floor.” Photo by Ken Salerno

Carl Humenik (City Gardens security): One bouncer went after the Marine-like dude and [bouncer] Repo went after the other guy. The Marine-dude and the bouncer start squaring up and they hit the ground. I jump in, and we start wrestling around, and the Marine rolls over onto his stomach. Me and the other bouncer are on top. I’m on the guy’s head, I’m holding his neck, and I’m laying down putting all my weight on his head. The other bouncer is on his back. And the guy starts doing pushups, and COUNTING. He’s going, “One … two …” and me and the other bouncer look at each other, like fuck. I’m going up and down with him, and I don’t know what to do. I’m pounding him and he’s still doing pushups. The other guy that Repo was fighting with left and got back inside. We go up to the front door to get a glass of water and calm down, because we were just so pumped up.

Jim Norton: What you’re not supposed to do is follow them outside and close the doors. Now you’re outside with two guys who are twice your size, who now realize they’ve been thrown out. They’re out $24, and they’re looking at the people who made it that way. I was not outside for this. However, all of the “bravado” that was displayed by these bouncers afterwards—all of the bragging about how they really put it to those two assholes—did not take away from what their faces and arms and legs looked like. Whatever happened to those other two guys, those five or six bouncers got their asses kicked.

Carl Humenik: I’m there drinking my water and the guy comes running around the building. I’m standing outside trying to drink water, he comes running right up at me, and I threw the water in his face. The guy stops, and we just start punching him again. A different bouncer, Ronnie, gets a hold of him. The show ends, and Ronnie takes him to the men’s room to hold him there until the police come. I go back there and look at him, and one of his friends is there trying to calm him down. And it hits me. I said, “Were you at [Philly punk club] Club Pizzazz last weekend?” And his friend goes, “Oh shit.” It turns out that the Marine was the same Marine at a show at Pizzazz and he was causing trouble there! I worked security there, and we all got into a fight with him. We threw him down the steps at Pizzazz, and then he and bouncers were going at it in the street. The guy was just a troublemaker who came to shows and started fights.

Jim Norton: When those bouncers came in after the show, they looked like 50 miles of rough road. I think what really happened was that they got outside and got beat the fuck up. And they probably sat outside trying to figure out how they were gonna spin the story. The old “you shoulda’ seen the other guy” routine wouldn’t have worked, because even if those two guys had been taken out on stretchers, they still won. Of all the ways it could have gone, in terms of possible violence at the club, it wasn’t GWAR, it wasn’t Agnostic Front. It wasn’t any of that stuff. It was the fucking Hoodoo Gurus…

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