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Nobody Gets Past Me
After dark, bouncers have front-row seats to nightlife in Washington. They watch for trouble—and sometimes find it—in local bars and clubs. By Brendan L. Smith
Comments () | Published June 1, 2009

Josh Burdette, 9:30 Club

Photograph by Matthew Girard

Height: Six-foot-three

Weight: 340 pounds

Age: 32

Josh Burdette is probably the best-known bouncer in DC. With his piercings, tattoos, and shaved head, he’s hard to miss. Some people call him “that guy”—as in “Oh, my God, do you see that guy?”

“I know I can be an intimidating presence,” Burdette says, “but I don’t try to carry myself that way.”

A 12-year veteran at the 9:30 Club on V Street, Northwest, he has a psychology degree from the University of Maryland, lives with his grandmother, and previously worked as a camp counselor and tutor. He uses his psychology training on the job.

“I study people,” he says. “I’m very good at seeing a problem before it becomes a problem.”

His tattoos and piercings are part of a “personal evolution” that stems from his birth in 1976, the Chinese year of the dragon. He has spent more than 200 hours under a tattoo gun; images of dragons trail across his arms, chest, and back. He also has stretched earlobes, elemental symbols burned into his fingers, and more than 20 piercings, including silver horns extending from his nostrils.

The 9:30 Club is known for attracting big-name bands along with undiscovered talent, and it has a strict drug and underage-drinking policy. Burdette says people try to grease the skids to get into a sold-out show, meet the band, or avoid getting kicked out for breaking the rules.

“I’ve been offered drugs, sex, and money,” he says. “If I had taken all the bribes, I would be retired and drinking mai tais on the beach.”


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Posted at 05:00 PM/ET, 06/01/2009 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Articles