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Meet Burlington Bouncer Mikey van Gulden


  • courtesy of Mikey van Gulden
  • Mikey van Gulden

Age: 48
Occupation: owner, Chocolate Thunder Security
Town: Burlington

If you've ever set foot in a Burlington bar or club, you've likely encountered effervescent bouncer extraordinaire Mikey van Gulden. As the youngest of 10 children, he's always been accustomed to crowds. Raised in Williston, his first jobs in Burlington included washing dishes at the long-gone Déjà Vu Café and working the elevator at the equally extinct Magram's department store.

He eventually settled into a career in event security: Van Gulden spent two decades working crowds and spotting fake IDs with an eagle eye at Queen City hot spots such as Nectar's and Higher Ground. He confiscated nitrous tanks at Phish's famous 1997 festival the Great Went. In 2010, he started his own firm, Chocolate Thunder Security.

Though he's usually all smiles, don't be fooled into thinking he's a softy — van Gulden will sling you over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and escort you to the curb if you don't follow the rules. But in his words, "Public humiliation often goes further than physical exertion."

Mikey van Gulden - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Mikey van Gulden

Best bars/clubs to hang out in: Three Needs Brewery & Taproom, Higher Ground, Club Metronome, Halvorson's Upstreet Café, Leunig's Bistro & Café. Burlington's bar world is a salad that offers such tasty people-watching.

Favorite local band: Dwight & Nicole. All of their bells and whistles that attract me come from their raw vocal and guitar talent. Also, they're both nice, selfless people.

Something relatively new in Burlington that I love: The attention put into improving the bike path. I hope some solar LED lights are put out to assist riders.

Fascinating local oddity: The hidden paintings that live behind the drop ceiling on the top floor of the Howard Opera House building on Church Street.

Vermont destination worth driving for: Every apple orchard you can find. [Editor's note: For a quick trip, try Shelburne Orchards. Three words: There's a distillery.]

Favorite street in Burlington: Depot Street. It's the only street in town that has "Do Not Enter" and "Road Closed to Thru Traffic" signs on both ends.

Two things you need to survive in Vermont: Optimism. And a second job.