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© Lee Harvey 2012–2019

Page updated 17 June, 2019

Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012–2019, Researching the Real World, available at
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A Guide to Methodology

CASE STUDY Control and supply of dance drugs (Sanders, 2005)

About eight bouncers, including the two head bouncers, were involved in selling ecstasy and, to a lesser extent, cocaine at the club. Ron and Tom were head of the club's security, and they, along with Ray, formed the core of the inner circle and controlled the sales of ecstasy and cocaine. These individuals were physically intimidating, local hard-men-cum-bouncers with various histories of offending, particularly violence. Furthermore, their intake of large quantities of amphetamine-based drugs (cocaine, ecstasy), at times alongside their continued use of anabolic steroids, encouraged violent bursts of erratic behaviour.

The borough where the club is located has a long history of high crime rates, with robbery and burglary rates some of the highest in the country. Extensive heroin and crack use and sales are evident within a couple of hundred yards of the club. Illicit drug sales more generally are part of a large and well-established informal economy within the borough. Other illegal activity went down within Sam's Club, such as the trading of stolen merchandise, the theft of large sums of money and dealings with unlicensed mini-cab drivers, but little information could be gathered about these activities. Rather than robbing banks and holding up armoured cars, selling controlled substances has become the contemporary 'street criminal's' offence of choice (Hobbs, 1995; Ruggiero and South, 1995).

Clubs provide an ideal environment to market certain drugs, namely dance drugs (Ruggiero and South, 1995) and club security, through their control of the doors and relative positions of power, are in an ideal position to capitalize on the potentially lucrative financial rewards selling these drugs (Hobbs et al., 2003; Winlow, 2001). At Sam's Club, the efforts of eight security guards selling ecstasy and cocaine amounted to a 'retail enterprise', with 'a manager employing people in a variety of specialist roles to distribute drugs to users'. According to other bouncers, ecstacy sales to punters amounted to between 1000 and 1500 each night.

To get the drugs to the punters, Ray's girlfriend, Tanya, along with four bouncers, Stuart, Chris, Mike and Kelly, 'worked' for Ron, Tom and Ray in 'specialist roles' by selling ecstasy, mainly on the dance floor or at the bars. To avoid the risk of being 'busted' for dealing they only carried small amounts of drugs and money at any time. The 'job' of some bouncers, particularly Mike, Kelly, Chris and Stuart, was to eject others attempting to sell drugs from the club. Such activities assisted in gaining further control of ecstasy and cocaine within the club. When these four caught others selling or using drugs, they sometimes took the drugs off these individuals and then sold them on to punters. In other cases, these bouncers used the drugs themselves.

(Adapted from Sanders, 2005, pp. 247–51)


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