Parting the Red Ropes

By Elisabeth Ann South

Door Guy: “Are you on the list?”

Me: “They have lists in Brooklyn??”

I know. I know. What a bitch, right? Well, it sounded bad, but I didn’t mean it that way, really. But there was no explaining that to the door guy. Not doorman, “door guy”. Doormen reside in Manhattan, and Manhattan alone, when it comes to New York. Except maybe, the Hamptons. I didn’t know about any clubs in Brooklyn; to me it was a place of bicycle riders, low-key-cool, organic food trucks, secular intellects, top line vintage boutiques, communal gardens, warehouse raves, environmentally conscious adulting hipsters, men with artistic tattoos and beards, and families on the outer borough patch worked with Hassidic Jewish communities. But not nightclubs. And one of the drunken girls in my trio agreed with me, but out loud, and with words deliberate that would forever tarnish our face with this man holding a “list”.

“I don’t wait in line in the Meat Packing, and you think I’m going to wait in line here?!”

Insert a few expletives like finely ground pepper throughout that line, and that’s what she said. The other girl in our trio of accidental-bashers-of-Brooklyn-nightclubs went ballistic on the drunk girl, berating her until she cried, because she “was ruining her relationship with this guy and would never be able to repair it”.

“But this is Brooklyn! Why do you care about ever coming to a club here??” the drunk girl stated in her most philosophically inclined inebriated voice manageable.

For the record, I would like to reinforce my love and admiration for Brooklyn. However, I do not think of it as doormen bearing lists; as a matter of fact, it annoys me. How dare they trivialize the artistic aura of BK. Leave clubs to Manhattan. And on that note…

A How To Guide For Getting Into Clubs (‘in Manhattan’ is obviously implied here)

First of all, it’s pretty much all about who you know. Or, who they think you know. Name dropping is a fine art consistent of contacts, and confidence. As Martin once told me, the minute they see you waffle or look the least bit unsure, you’re cooked. Dunzo. And if you fail at getting in, you’re first impression will have sullied your reputation with that doorman for eternity. They may let you in in the future, if you come with the right person, but they will always remember you as a schlep.

Who can get in?

Women must be beautiful, tall (with the help of heels, and heels are a must for every female), wearing obvious couture or something super sexy, and with an I-know-the-promoter girl. Of course, if you know the doorman, even better. Knowing the manager only gets you in if the manager is standing there outside. Otherwise, they will you to text the manager if you know him and to have him come out and get you. Let me say, that being a manager is an extremely demanding and stressful job. Let’s say the manager’s name is Joe. If you are Joe’s girlfriend, he will already have you on the list. If Joe is simply sleeping with you, he will have mentioned you to the doorman earlier upon getting your text that you “mite come out 2nite”. If you are Joe’s brother, the doorman already knows you. If you are Joe’s cousin, you are lying and very unoriginal. If you did Joe a favor sometime, you should have texted him that day to put you on the list. If you are Joe’s ex-girlfriend, they will take pity on you and let you in, and if you are willing to enter under those circumstances, you and I need to have a talk. The only females who get in with flat shoes are high fashion models under the age of 21 with a fake i.d. or high profile promoter who waves the card checker away. I remember one girl so young looking, that it wasn’t even her chuck high tops that gave her away, but rather her face that was famous in certain Vogue ads. And of course her friend was seemingly drunk off a vodka cranberry and making frequent trips to the bathroom forgetting to wipe off the white powder remnants on her tiny little nose. But everything has a dark side and that’s part of it with high profile parties.

Men. Only men over 5’10”, dressed slick, shall enter unless buying a table with the starting price of $1500-$2000. This likely includes one bottle of cheap Vodka sold at your local liquor store for $30. And this obviously does not include your tip or further alcohol purchase. Because let’s be honest, either these guys are going to get sloppy drunk on nervous sipping, or by trying to out drink their buddies while maintaining their perceived Mr. Cool image. Or they may order more bottles because broke girls leeching off guys needing to get laid for the night find their table, sense their desperation, and play them like a puppet, leaving the guys drunk as monkeys and fumbling home alone, a thousand dollars lighter. Some guys come with girls; they have the lightest bill, and not just because their girls aren’t shooting for sloshed, but rather because this group of females are there to be seen and end up swatting away lady freeloaders.

No non-thin people allowed. The only exceptions are fat guys who are paying hefty (excuse the pun) prices for tables. Big girls are ignored. I know this painful truth because of personal experience. Once, I was with a group of beautiful skinnies and one big girl (who was very nice), and no matter how many of us were willing to show our boobs to the doorman, none of us could wrangle her through the ropes. We didn’t actually flash him, but a few of the girls secretly convened and when they turned from their hot girl huddle, offered to show the doorman the “best boobs he’s ever seen”. This tactic was turned away only after he considered the tradeoff. Hey, a man can actually lose his job over letting the “wrong” people in, so he chose to pay his electricity bill that night in lieu of seeing more boobs. He’d see enough later anyway. Seriously, even if the guy is oh-my-god fugly, he still gets nonstop action because there are a sadly large number of girls who will sleep with whoever to gain prestige access to a club that might go under even the next week.

Useful Hints

Wall Street guys are the most fun, in my opinion. They aren’t so set on wrangling in a bed guest for the night as much as just spending insane amounts of money and having a crazy fun time. They will talk without telling you how prestigious their job is, offer you a drink without expecting your phone number or body in return, and make it their goal to the have the best night of their life and include all those around them. This is of course a generalization, but more often than not, true. Also, they may not remember you the next day, or you may pass them on Madison Ave and 52nd St., but during daylight, they will be buttoned up and all business. Regardless of their personal character, they are the absolute most fun to party with. Even when they are jerks, they are inevitably entertaining to watch or verbally spar with.

DO “TIP” the Eastern European doormen. It’s insulting to them if you don’t try. Well, that’s what I was told by a very well-known club hopper.

Become friends with the VIP Host. And do so, when you are with a high profile crowd. (You can thank me later for that one.)

Never, I repeat, NEVER be rude to a doorman. This needs no further explanation.

Once inside the club, tip the bartender with large generosity. Money talks. She or he will remember your behavior and you will not wait long to be served among those crowding around the bar. You can mostly tell who tips well because they step right up and just hold up however many fingers that represent the number of drinks to repeat on their previous order. Bartenders in these venues aren’t just any bartenders; they passed extensive tests, trained with bottles like an athlete, and beat out hundreds of other beautiful people vying for the same job there. They are very skilled at what they do, have an incredible memory, and are very savvy. Remember, be nice to the bartenders, and they will be very nice to you.

Final Words

So if you are not on the list, please don’t drop my name. After this, they may have read something from this chapter taken out of context and consider me a Brooklyn basher, which was incidentally where they grew up. Or, they may not know my name at all and you will look like a bigger fool than the guy next to you who has been standing in line since last week. And if you do see me in the Meat Packing District with my girl posse, who Martin has christened “The Meatie-P’s”, don’t ask me if I ever got into that club in Brooklyn; it’s a sore spot.


In the four short years Elisabeth Ann South has been in New York City, she has acted in numerous independent films, had the lead in an off-Broadway show, and has become a regular contributor to FOX News as a millennial writer. Having filmed and photographed various television travel pieces, including an award winning one for the Siberian Express, she is scheduled to do a photography exhibit in her hometown of Indianapolis. She is currently working on her second book of essays.