You’ll have a better shot finding me at a bar or lounge than an overly crowded nightclub where the DJ dictates conversation and drink spillage is inevitable. But we all know there’s a time and place for scratching that club itch and breaking out the embarrassing dance moves. (Summer of Nicki Minaj, what?)
Somewhere between 10 and 11 p.m. last Saturday, my girls and I made our way to Board Room, one of Chicago’s luxe new nightclubs (a.k.a. the former RiNo, a fun late-night bar known for VIP partying in the bar's kitchen). We were dressed to kill and pumped to celebrate our friend’s birthday...because nothing says a good time like girls shakin' it in glass elevators and a dancing bird in a full-body getup. So when the girl at the door turned out to be a bartender I used to work with, we happily avoided the lines.
The convenient run-in at the door got me thinking: If you’re not a Playmate or a bartender or in some other industry that allows you to meet the right nightlife people in high places, how do you beat the lines? And once inside these super-packed, uber-hyped venues, how do you get the bartender’s attention? Or bottle service? Or added perks that are usually reserved for celebs and socialites?
From someone who's served, sipped and schmoozed her way to a better nightlife more times than she'd probably care to admit, here are five tips for helping you navigate a better night…tonight, tomorrow night and every night to come.
Dress the part: Depending on how upscale the club in question is, some places have strict dress code attire. To avoid getting turned away at the door, make sure you and your buddies leave the flip-flops, muscle-tees and baseball hats at home.
Business cards: Never leave home without ‘em, guys. One of the greatest things about going out is you never know who you’re going to meet. You could be striking up a conversation with a cocktail waitress or bartender who just happens to tell you the owner is in the building. Ask to meet him/her and compliment what you like about the place—the service, menu, ambiance, whatever—you never know when that connection will come in handy. And having your cards on you will help put a face to a name.
Bring the Benjamins: I admit I’m usually “that girl,” the one who never has cash. But when it comes to going out—if you're a guy—cash is a must. Hit up an ATM before you go out so you're fully prepped to tip the valet, the bouncer, your waitstaff and bartender. Of course, not all bouncers give in to money bribes, but it can't hurt to try. And if you end up starting a tab, whether you're getting bottle service or ordering at the bar, bartenders always prefer cold, hard cash that they can take home with them at the end of a long shift. They’re also much more likely to remember you for making the gesture.
Start a tab: Along with cash, remember to bring your plastic for starting a tab. And if the tab gets pricey, you’re way more likely to get hooked up with a free round of shots than the guy who keeps going back and forth to the bar for another drink.
The golden rule: Treat your waitstaff the way you want to be treated. When I was behind the bar and would see guys flailing their arms or snapping their fingers to get my attention, I wanted nothing more than to make their drink and throw it in their face. The waitstaff isn't going anywhere—and clearly neither are you without a drink—so just be patient and polite and your manners will go the distance.
Now go get your club on!
YOUR HOMEWORK: I'm about to fly out for a photo shoot in North Dakota and don't know a single person in the entire state, which means I'll likely be hitting up the hotel bar by my lonesome. When you're traveling for work or find yourself in a new city and need to pass the time, where do you get your nightlife? Restaurant bars? Airport bars? Hotel bars? Walking the streets and venturing off to somewhere completely random? Send me a message on my Twitter feed, or post a comment below and you just might get a special shout-out from yours truly in next week's blog! Happy weekend, guys.