This is a guest post by Charlie Houpert, co-founder of Charisma On Command, a company dedicated to helping men become their best selves.
(This post is geared towards men living/partying in big cities like NYC, LA, Vegas, and Miami. For all the female readers, getting into clubs and drinking for free is mostly a matter of dressing well, wearing heels, and letting the promoters find you.)
If you’re like I used to be, you only make it out to exclusive clubs on those BIG nights. You and your buddies all pool your cash to drop on a table and some fancy-schmancy bottle service (really, just some mediocre vodka, but who’s gonna notice after drink #4?!)
You walk in and the place is bumping. Beautiful girls everywhere, costumed waitresses, sparklers spraying out of $25,000 bottles of champagne – totally overwhelming. You settle into your table, order your bottle of so-so vodka, and proceed to drink heavily.
If you’re like me, you’ll probably dance your tail off and have a blast. You’ll probably also find spending $500+ for a bottle of alcohol offensive. You might have a moral hangover about it in the morning, not to mention a painful, throbbing hangover as well. . . .
Good news: I have the cure to at least one of those hangovers! You don’t have to spend like a millionaire to party like one.
A little background: I was sleeping on a friend’s floor when I moved to NYC and I was still going out 4+ nights per week and getting VIP treatment at NYC’s most exclusive clubs. By the end of this post, you’ll know how to do the same. You’ll know how to cut the line, drink free bottle service, and even get PAID to go out and party.
You will be able to hack clubs.
But first, if you want to hack the system, you have to know how it works. So here is a deep dive into the inner machinations of a club’s business model . . .
How Clubs Work
Reputation is everything for a club. Every club in a city is competing with every other to be the “hot spot.” While having a cool ambiance and big name DJs is helpful, the number one thing a club needs to boost its reputation is pretty straightforward: as many beautiful women as possible.
Guys want to go where the girls are. Any club that can attract the most attractive women will quickly get a stellar reputation. Any club that doesn’t will be out of business FAST. The problem with this simple rule? There are a finite number of beautiful women that want to go out clubbing on any given night of the week.
That’s why clubs hire promoters to bring out groups of girls. Promoters entice the girls with cut-the-line treatment, booze, and dinners/events beforehand. All of that comes FREE for the girls who go out with a promoter. Clubs are willing to spend all that money just to attract girls—That is how badly the club needs them.
So when you go to a club and see all those girls surrounding a table, realize that NONE of them are paying. Many of them hardly know each other. And the guy in the middle of the group of 20 girls is not a prince or a billionaire or a celebrity. He is a promoter or a friend of a promoter. He is definitely not paying a dime – in fact, he is getting paid to be there.
But what about the group of 5 dudes in work suits at the adjacent table? They’re paying. They’re paying for those girls’ drinks without even knowing it.
Now we’ve arrived at the heart of the club’s business model: a few dudes—sometimes less than 20% of the people in the club—are subsidizing everyone else. They are paying WAY TOO MUCH for tables ($1000+), or bar minimums ($100+). What’s more, a single table is probably covering the lion’s share as the guys drop several grand on rare champagnes (or several hundred grand, which is what happened last weekend, I kid you not).
Why are those guys spending so outrageously? It isn’t for the alcohol. They could buy that without the 1000% mark up at the corner liquor store.
They are paying for a great party and the chance to be near all those beautiful girls. Underneath the flashy veneer, giving men the mere opportunity to meet pretty girls is the real service a club provides. The alcohol just facilitates the whole process. And so we come to the promoters’ raisond’être: they bring the girls. Without the girls, the guys would never pay such an insane amount of money and the club would go out of business. It ain’t pretty, but it is the way things work.
So how do YOU get in without paying out the arse? How do you hack the system?
Simple: stop acting like the 20% of (paying customers) and start acting like the 80% that are there for free. Here’s how:
Step 1: Getting in
To get into the club, you’re going to have to make it past the doorman. You know the dude behind the velvet rope with the clipboard or the iPad who has probably turned you down before? That is the doorman. That guy controls your fate. To get in without paying a ton of money, you need to understand his job:
To make a great party that attracts as many high-paying customers as possibleand get as much money out of these customers as possible.
There is no list. There is only the doorman’s discretion. He tends to let girls in for free because they improve the party in the eyes of those high-paying customers. He holds out on the guys since they can often be persuaded to buy a table or just leave (sorry, man!)
But there is hope, even if you’re broke. You can still waltz into a top club without spending a red cent. There are just three rules you need to keep in mind . . .
- You need to be low-cost
- You need to be a gangsta
- You need to be human
Rule #1: Be low-cost
Every dude that goes into the club without paying COSTS the club money. On popular nights it’s even worse because you’re almost definitely taking the spot of someone else who would spend a ton. So if you want to be low-cost, the solution is simple: Limit the number of dudes and bring girls.
I recommend going with 4 people total: you, a buddy, and two girls. If you have trouble getting in with that group, you can split into two groups of two. The smaller the group the better. A lone guy actually stands a decent shot on most nights.
Before you know the doorman, your best bet is also to go early on off nights (Sunday-Thursday). This makes you very low-cost since you’re not taking some high roller’s spot. Plus it gives you the opportunity to chat up the doorman (See rule #3).
Rule #2: Be a gangsta
A gangsta knows he is getting in. The door is a formality.
You are a gangsta.
You are relaxed when you arrive. You bypass the entrance line and walk right up to the “exit area” of the velvet rope. You don’t act like a jerk. You make eye contact with the doorman, say “What’s up man?” and smile because you KNOW the rope is coming up for you.
The dress code is simple: look like you aren’t a dude who pays to get into clubs. Don’t wear your work suit – that would get you slapped with a hefty bar minimum. Anything you can do to differentiate yourself from the hordes of other guys waiting in line helps too, so avoid the standard plaid button-up and jeans combo. Come with a unique style.
Rule #3: Be human
The doorman eyes you and your group suspiciously. He is looking for signs that you don’t belong. He is waiting for you to crack, to show your nervousness, to ask how much the cover is. But you don’t ask. You know that there is no cover for you.
So the doorman asks “Who are you here with?”
And you reply with a smile, “Oh, it’s me, Dave, Michelle, and Nicole.”
You say their names even if they have never been introduced to the doorman. You assume familiarity. The goal is to be viewed not as a customer, but as a human being, or better yet, a friend. Customers wait in line and pay. Friends walk right in for free.
Once you’ve gotten in and enjoyed your night (you did everything I said before, right?!) make a point to shake hands with the doorman on your way out. Tell him to have a great night. Crack a joke. Same goes for the bouncers.
Next time you come out, you’ll probably slap hands with the doorman and give a man hug. The door will be a breeze. Assume familiarity and it becomes real familiarity.
(Familiarity isn’t just for the doorman and bouncers, btw. Assume familiarity with EVERYONE in life. Act friendly and surprisingly awesome things will come your way.)
Consistently get in everywhere — make it sustainable
If you want to make this a repeat event, you need to know someone who can get you into a ton of places any night of the week. That someone is a promoter. There are at least a handful of them in any top club every single night of the week. So how do you spot them?
Look for the table that looks the most intimidating. The one overflowing with women and just a few guys. If the ratio is way out of whack, it’s a promoter table.
Walk up to that table and introduce yourself to anyone there. “Hey, I don’t think I’ve met you yet. I’m [your name],” works wonders. After a bit of conversation, ask which promoter they are there with. That way you can get an introduction.
Side note: so many guys approach promoters with a “what can I get?” mindset. They want to drink their alcohol, talk to the girls they brought, and get free entry for themselves. This “taker” mentality will get you exactly zero invites. That guy is a value suck. No one wants that kind of person around.
Instead, bring value! Introduce the promoter to any girls you brought. Make sure the people at the table are having fun. Smile. Dance. Mingle. Some clubs have employees who observe the promoter tables and pay the promoters based on how good their table looks throughout the night. Anything you can do to help in that regard will be greatly appreciated. Just having a positive vibe and making people happy goes a long way. Plus the new friends you’ll make will appreciate the energy.
At the end of the night, say goodbye to the promoter. Let them know you can bring some girls out if they are going out other nights. They’ll take down your number in a hurry because you are bringing value.
From then on you can text the promoter whenever you want to go out and they’ll let you know where they are. For the first few times, make sure to bring at least an even ratio of girls to guys with you. As you become closer and make friends, you’ll be able to come out without girls.
If you get this far, congratulations! You aren’t paying and you don’t have to bring girls. Clubs = hacked. Booyakasha!
So now what if you want to get paid? You want to promote.
The best way to start promoting is by sub-promoting. This means you’ll be working under a promoter, bringing a portion of the girls out or running the table by yourself on some nights. All you have to do to get this gig is make friends with a promoter and ask. Most could use the help. After you’ve done it for a while and get the hang of it, you’ll have built contacts with the club management and can get bumped up to promoter.
A word of caution:
Promoters aren’t paid to party. I know that’s the pitch, but, I confess, it’s a far cry from what they actually do. They’re paid to work. Getting 12-15 girls to the same club at 12:15 sharp on a Tuesday night is tough. Doing it night in and night out is a full time job.
“Huh, why? Being a promoter looks so fun and easy!”
Yes, sure, the promoter has status INSIDE the club. But before he walks in with his posse, most are BEGGING girls to come out with them. Every night they have to make it happen again. Text messaging becomes a way of life. It becomes tough to draw the line between business and friends. You will feel needy. Like you NEED girls to come. It is an icky feeling, trust me.
The benefits of promoting you probably know . . .
- You will get paid. Like a lot. If you can negotiate a flat fee (you should) it’s reasonable to start at a couple hundred bucks a night and work your way up from there.
- You’ll be making more than your corporate world friends very quickly.
- You technically work only a few hours a day and you constantly meet new people.
- You’ll drink and eat for free just about any night of the week.
- Some girls will be attracted to the “promoter” status (honestly, I’ve found more are put off by it).
In my experience promoting and having a ton of fun don’t tend to go hand in hand. I personally am a fan of just rolling with a promoter friend and keeping the club as a place of fun rather than a place of work. I’ll leave it to you to decide how you handle it.
That’s the overview of how you can cut the line, get free bottle service, and be paid to party (though you also know the downside). If you’re in NYC and want to see this stuff in action, I recommend dropping me a line. Otherwise, I’ll just spot you with your gangsta swag as you slip under the velvet rope . . .
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