The Gentleman’s Guide to Paying Off a Bouncer

Malcolm Freberg
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1.8% of people reading this are girls. To you I say (at the risk of sounding sexist or chauvinistic or whatever) the answer to getting in the club is dressing cute. Don't blame me, blame society.

To the other 98.2%, the bros reading this on their iPhone at 9:00pm before calling Uber, you're in luck. I worked a lot of years in the bar scene and, as I was larger than the hipster bartenders, spent many a night working the door. And the answer to your question is yes, we all accept bribes.

But not from everyone.



Knowing the decorum to greasing a bouncer can make or break your night. Put the doorman in a compromising situation and you're shit out of luck. Get caught sneaking in and you'll be unceremoniously tossed out on your ass. Douchebaggery isn't a deal breaker, but it does cost extra.

Follow these simple etiquette tips to make both your's and the doorman's night better:


Don't 'Sneak In'; 'Make Friends' Instead

Let's weed out the conmen straight away. 

As mentioned above, trying to 'sneak in' unsuccessfully will result in the destruction of your soul. You will be made an example of to discourage those considering the same move, and your shadiness won't be soon forgotten by the staff. It's just not worth it.

There is, however, a very simple way to expedite your entry: join a group that has a better chance of getting in quickly. If there's a large party of unaccompanied females, why not make friends and go in together? Make sure the girls outnumber the guys significantly, and the ladies will act like Y-chromosome camouflage.

You can also cut the line with people you know who've been waiting. It'll likely piss off those behind you, but is technically fair game.



Keep The Guy Count Low

There's six of you tonight, and you all have penises. This isn't good.

If a club has a line outside, they're busy. If they're busy, they get to be discerning about who comes in. If they get to be discerning about who comes in, they only want the ladies. Don't shoot the messenger.

Rolling deep with one's bros is a time-honored tradition, but isn't the most effective method for getting into a crowded bar. If you've got too many button downs and not enough high heels, you've got a few options: 

Break up into smaller groups. Two dudes paying off a bouncer has a much higher success rate than six. Combine this strategy with the 'making friends' technique, and you should be fine. Sort out who's doing what amongst yourselves. Or…

Be prepared to pay extra. A lot extra. Whatever you're anticipating it'll cost per head to skip the line (more on that below), be ready to add ~50% to it for a large group of guys. The bouncer's going to catch flak from his manager for letting in a huge wad of guys, so you're paying him for the trouble — if he's cool with it, that is. Which he may not be.

That being said, there is a cheat code to the over-bro'd dillemma, but it isn't cheap: buy bottle service. No lines, no underhanded bouncer nonsense, no trouble for your massive bro-dom. Just immediate entry and an attention-grabbing spot for a few hours. 


Get Attention Without Being a Douche

That last part is key.

Obviously you've got to get the typically-ginormous man's attention, but do it in an obnoxious way, and he's not going to respond favorably. He's already tossed out two dudes for fighting, three girls for puking, and had to talk to the cops because some wasted frat kid's dad was a lawyer. He's in a mood.

Wait for eye contact/acknowledgement of your existence. He's probably busy with other shit, so if he doesn't fall to his knees in worship upon your arrival, deal with it. No shouting, no waving, just wait. Then, when you do get acknowledged, give him a confident look that indicates you want to talk. Accompany this with a friendly, "Hey man." I feel like I'm teaching Social Skills 101 right now.

Waiting patiently for a reasonable amount of time, then getting his attention without being dick, can go a long way.



Paying Per Person Guy

When he does come over, be ready. The cash should be easy-to-handle, though not obvious to everyone. Use a front pocket or have it discretely palmed.

Now the million-dollar question: how much? For a nice, big-city bar with a ~15 deep line on a weekend night, start by expecting $20 a penis.

If you've got 5 or more dudes and no offsetting females, that number will probably be higher. Also, if you're at a high-end Vegas/LA/NYC club, it's going to be a lot more. Of course, a less busy or lower-end establishment (nothing wrong with that) should be less. Use your best judgement, and be ready with enough cash before approaching the bouncer.

That being said, this is the most important part of this article. Memorize the following phrase: "How much for X guys?" 

There's no need to guess. It's perfectly fine — and expected — to ask what it's going to take to get in. 

He'll give you a 'not tonight' or a number. If it's the former, feel free to offer a number you think may change his mind, though a second 'no' definitely means no. If it's the latter, don't try to negotiate too much, although pro tip: shaving $10 off anything over $50 because 'it's all the cash you've got' usually works.

If you happen to have the exact amount ready, hand it to him discretely and easily countable — no jumbled wads of bills from your piggy bank. If you don't have the right number, turn away from the crowd (and the bouncer, if you lied about how much you've got) and quickly count it out.


Attitude is Everything

As with everything in life, this is going to be a lot easier if you don't suck as a person. Save the obnoxious behavior for once you're inside. Show some respect, and you're more likely to get it in return. And keep in mind that the easiest way to hear 'no' is being off-your-ass upon arrival.

But other than that, rage on bros. Rage on.