The Bouncer with the Big Heart: Naylor Harrington
Ah, bouncers. We’ve all had experiences with them. A good one is a god, a bad one a burly sod. But Naylor Harrington, is a great one, a demigod of the door, and so much more. He is bouncer, bodyguard, doorman, driver, music manager and top-class character.
‘Back in the late nineties I was doing a lot of DJ work – nightclubs and such – alongside Butlin’s in Bognor Regis; where I was on residency for 3 years starting in the 1996 season.’ Naylor tells me. ‘After that I moved to Essex, but I really struggled to get work there. I thought, you know, I’m a fairly big lad… if I can do door work then I can be in with the clubs and get behind the decks again.’
This strategic pivot led Naylor to a myriad of new experiences: ‘I really took to door work. I worked my way up and became a head door man working the pubs, clubs and bars of Essex. Then, in the early 2000’s, I met a guy who was doing music security, so I started helping him out and learning about that. This all followed on to me getting my close protection license, and life changed a lot from there!’
I thought, you know, I’m a fairly big lad… if I can do door work then I can be in with the clubs and get behind the decks again.
Naylor is now running an all-encompassing operation called ‘Protect And Tour’ where he coordinates close protection and security for revered music artists, alongside tour and road management. Whilst speaking to us a slew of messages piled up on his phone and an imminent trip to Belgium – for less than 24 hours – was about to begin with drum and bass legends Chase and Status.
Naylor lives in a constant cycle of planning and preparation to prevent mishaps in performances thousands have been waiting for. ‘It might sound surprising, but the most intense moments I’ve really had are when we have a vehicle breakdown on the way to a show… Sure, there’s hairy moments when people push their luck a bit too far, get too carried away, but the goal is to always spot that before it escalates.’
When it comes to security, especially in venues, Naylor has noticed problems outside of his operation: ‘I won’t name them, but there are some awful places. The security are aggressive, frequently overstepping their powers and throwing their weight around. I’ve got three daughters, two of them quite young, so I understand the importance of looking out for people, but violence and bigotry is never an approach that ends well, I’ll tell you that.’
Violence and bigotry is never an approach that ends well
Naylor approaches his work with great care and consciousness, and he’s honest enough to also fills us in on how this line of employment impacts family life: ‘I’m not home much really. My 9-year-old, it affects her a lot, because when she was a baby I was away, and away, and away. But then lockdown happened when she was 6 and I was home all the time so that’s what she got used to. All she’s known is daddy’s been at home, and then suddenly, bosh, I’m gone again. She tell me she doesn’t like it when I have to leave.’
A strange thought arose after he spoke: have you ever imagined a bouncer at home with his family, or in bed, or having a cuppa? We see them as imperious giants of the night, a sub-section of the human race who never sleep; only to exist in our minds akin to the man shaving our kebab or the streetlights on empty roads home that observe our staggered route to slumber.
Behind the scenes at every gig, gathering and rave, there is a team of people whose lives outside of the swaying crowds and thumping drums exist beyond the blur we experience. If you keep an eye out, and spot the team at the back, reserved from making their force known, then you’re in safe hands: because when Naylor’s in the wings, just out of sight, you’re in for a blast of a night.