- Carlie Grunloh,
Sophomore art education major
|Carlie Grunloh , sophomore art major, passes the time with fellow employees at the beginning of a Thursday night stint as bouncer at Six Strings in downtown Bloomington. (Photo by Lynn Tangorra / Staff Photographer)|
NORMAL- Walking into Six Strings, a popular bar in downtown Bloomington, visitors are greeted by every underage students’ nightmare – bouncers. When the word bouncer is mentioned, what first comes to mind? Most would imagine an upper 200-pound linebacker male; however, at Six Strings, one of the bouncers has a slightly different appearance.
Carlie Grunloh stands 5 foot 5 inches tall and is a slender girl with curly brown hair. She is wearing an oversized black polo with “SECURITY” in big white letters across the front, the same uniform as the guys although it seems to fit them a little tighter. Grunloh welcomes customers in with a big, friendly smile, but don’t be fooled. If she needs to she can exercise just as much force against unruly college students as the other two standard bouncers sitting at the door.
Grunloh is a 21-year-old sophomore art education major at Illinois State University. She grew up in a small town outside of Peoria, Ill., and after graduating from Bureau Valley High School, she joined the Air Force at a base in Peoria.
“It’s pretty common for kids from my town to join the Air Force,” Grunloh said, slightly distracted as she watched a young man and three young women walk through the door. Trusting the other two bouncers didn’t need her help checking ID’s and counting the students’ cover charge payments she continued, “A lot join to help pay for college, like me, but some others, like my boyfriend, plan to make a career out of it.”
Grunloh’s boyfriend of one year, Cody Canfield, is currently deployed in Afghanistan where he is serving a six month tour of duty. He left in November of 2010, and she is anxiously counting the days until his return in early April. She smiles after mentioning his name and blushes slightly at the slip of emotion.
“He’s not too happy about this job,” she mentions, turning away from her co-workers to lessen the risk of being overheard.
Grunloh has only been working at Six Strings for the past two months, but already she has clocked in quite a few weekend hours in the establishment that have given her many stories to share with friends and family.
“On my first night I had to break up a fight between two guys,” she says, putting her hand on her hip and opening her eyes wide, as if she still couldn’t believe it. “Technically, the other bouncers are supposed to do that, but I walked through the crowd and saw these two getting into it, and no one else was around.”
The line starts growing at the door, so Grunloh leaves to go help the guys collect the cover charges and check more ID’s. It’s about 9 p.m., and the bar is starting to fill up.
Known as the “country bar” to most around the area, on some Thursday nights the owners have a mechanical bull brought in for visitors to take their chances riding. Grunloh explains that when word gets out that the bull is in town the bar really fills up quick and stays packed until the music is shut off around 1 a.m.
Most stumbling into the bar for the rest of the night are in their mid-20’s and came to take part in watching or riding the legendary bull. Several of the young men that come in take an interest in Grunloh, start up some small talk, and give her a smile on their way in, but what is more surprising is the female customers’ responses.
“Oh my god, I love your hair!” a blonde girl, who has obviously already had some drinks, yells as she walks in. She leans over the counter that separates the bouncers from the drunk college students and tries to touch Grunloh’s hair. The girl’s friends apologize and tell the girl to get out her $5 so they can get inside. Grunloh just smiles, thanks the girl for the compliment and says, “Have fun,” with a laugh as the girls walk inside.
When the girls are out of earshot, Grunloh explains that she really doesn’t regret not being able to go out every weekend night. With her boyfriend being away and uncomfortable with her spending her nights at a bar, she is happy to be able to be out without getting completely smashed with her friends.
“Usually when I get home, it’s around 2:30 or 3 a.m., which means it’s around noon in Afghanistan,” she explains. This works out perfectly because it is usually a good time for the couple to talk for a little bit, while Grunloh is winding down from the excitement of the night, and Canfield is on his lunch break from his shift at the base overseas.
Remembering she forgot to finish the rest of her story about the fight between the two boys she had to break up on her first night, Grunloh picks up where she left off.
“After I saw the other bouncers were busy and no one else was around to help, I just walked up to the two boys yelling at each other and said ‘Guys. You’re gonna have to leave.’ They both stopped in the middle of their argument, looked me up and down, saw my security shirt, exchanged a confused look and started heading towards the door,” she says, laughing a little at the memory. “They even said ‘sorry’ on their way out.”
Grunloh’s experience breaking up the fight just goes to show it doesn’t always take might to stay in control at the bar.
“Well I don’t have much experience being a bouncer,” Grunloh said. “In my limited experience I would say it’s all about confidence. If you act like you know what you’re doing, and you give people a reason to respect and listen to you, they will.”