Cipha: The club was on 27th and 12th, at the corner. The line started at 27th and 11th; to get from 11th to 12th was like going between East Berlin and West Berlin. The street was blocked off with barricades along the side of the building where you’d wait on line. Then there were barricades perpendicular down the street so you couldn’t go around and walk down the street.
Lighty: The police put it on us to get the block cleared, so we would have to spend almost as much time keeping the outside of the club secure as we did trying to keep the inside of the club secure.
Manda: The police would randomly search people who were walking to the club. They’d pull their cars over a block away, making it hard for people to gather, because, I guess, it was such a large gathering of young black people. I don’t know how else to say it. They didn’t love that.
Lighty: Try and put 2,000 kids into a club quickly when you’re searching them the way that we had to search them—like they were entering Rikers Island: “Take off your shoes. Oh, you have a gun? Take it back to your car. No knives. No weapons. No weed. No drugs.” Tupac came to the club, and I had to send him back to his car, telling him, “Sorry, Tupac, but you can’t come in here with a weapon.” He gladly went back to his car, put his weapon away, then came back and partied.
Glen Beck: We had search teams, both male and female, and whenever someone would come into the club, you would search them for weapons, drugs, et cetera. They all came in—male and female—into the same room for the search, an area after the entrance. Eventually, someone came up with the better idea of splitting them apart [by gender], which gave them room to bring in more male and female searchers. I was a searcher [at first] because I was a lot smaller. Eventually I became a bouncer. I put on a little more weight, became a martial arts instructor.
You carry a gun into a club, there’s only one reason for that.
- Glen Beck
Cipha: You had to bang your shoes together, then you’d go through the metal detector and get patted down. I had to open up all of my crates; they did a thorough search of everything. Sometimes there would be cops, and they would have pages of mug shots. They would hold the pictures close to your face to see if you matched one. They would grab people right there. It was crazy.
Beck: This guy came in one time, walked up to me without so much as a hitch, wasn’t favoring one leg, no noise from a weapon clicking. He gave me his boots, and I had a horrible feeling that something was wrong. I searched his boots, put them to the side, then I told him, “Take everything out of your pockets.” When you take your thumb and press it against your hand, your muscle bulges. Let your hand loose, that’s the natural stance. For your thumb to be pressed against your hand, that’s not natural, unless you’re holding something between your thumb and forefinger. When he was putting stuff into the counter I searched next to, I saw the muscle bulge. I put him in a wristlock; he had a bullet in his hand. I took the bullet and asked if he had any more bullets. “No.” I asked him if he was lawfully allowed to carry a gun. “Yes.” I said, “Do you have a gun on you?” “No.” One of the security managers came over. I told him what was happening and he told me to finish searching him, but the guy started arguing with me. I knew in my gut that something was wrong. I said to my friend Damien, “Do me a favor and search him top to bottom,” because I wanted my hands free in case I had to grab him. Damien went to search him and as I was watching, one of the other guys pushed someone toward me to search, and I diverted my attention for one second to tell that person, “Sir, do me a favor and step back.” While I turned my attention, Damien yelled, “Gun!” The guy tried to spin where he was standing, trying to yank his sock off. He was wearing two pairs of socks on his right foot, and the gun was between the pairs. The guy turned and got twisted, and as he got twisted, I stepped in, grabbed his wrist, and took him down to the floor. I popped his wrist and dislocated his shoulder. Damien had the gun, a two-shot Derringer, over-under, .45 caliber. We took him to the back, and still he’s trying to get away. We got him into the back, where there were a bunch of us, and he’s yelling, “I’ll hit you off, I’ll hit you off,” so that we’d let him go. We called the cops to turn over the gun. There was someone in back who popped the shoulder back in and the guy screamed, then passed out. The cops came; we explained [what had happened]. The cop went to arrest him, put his left hand behind his back and cuffed him, and when the cop went to put his right hand behind his back, his shoulder popped back out.
Prodigy: Chris Lighty and the white girl, Jessica, would be at the door and they’d get us in for free. We’d get free drink tickets.
Lighty: The out-of-town kids would try to come in with a ruckus, acting out of line, so we would say, “Oh, you want to get in? You and your boys, you gotta spend $1000 per person.” Because the Tunnel was so hyped and the energy was so amazing, people paid it.
Manda: You would get some out-of-towners, and the occasional Japanese hip-hop kid.
Rosenblum: The Tunnel proved that hip-hop in a nightclub was a financial force to be reckoned with.
Michael Rapaport: Jessica, she was a pain in the ass, one of those cliché door people who felt that their shit didn’t stink. She’d be at the door with her long blonde hair and short skirt, and she’d let me and my people in, but it was never with a smile—it was always begrudgingly, which I never appreciated.
Flex: Jessica wasn’t stuck up; she probably didn’t let him [Rapaport] in one time. She had an understanding of what the club should be, and how she wanted the night to be. Every good club, every great night, has a tough person at the door.
Prodigy: We would have connections at the door, and they used to meet us in the bathroom with a backpack full of shit: razors, screwdrivers, guns. I’d pass out the shit to everybody, then we’d go have fun. It was just to protect ourselves. We used to wear a lot of jewelry; we were Mobb Deep. In case somebody thought something was sweet, we needed weapons.
Beck: You go to a nightclub, you carry a knife in your pocket, I understand. You carry mace—I swear to God—I understand. You carry a gun into a club, there’s only one reason for that. You carry a straight razor under your tongue or inside the headband of your hat, in the cuff of your pants, underneath the sole of your sneaker, so that you can go into the bathroom and hold it in your hand—there’s only one reason for that, and that’s the difference between self-defense and offense.