So I blog about parties and what happens at them, but what about what happens right outside the door? The things I've witnessed and the stories I've heard over the years from doorstaff are often funnier than the gossip bubbling inside. My all time fave would have to be the loud lass who swore black and blue that she knew Tiffany "really, really well". I must admit I let her babble on a fair bit before I eventually let her know that I was in fact, Tiffany...
A lot can be learned about the skills required to handle yourself if you're ever in one of these jobs, or more importantly if you're a punter and dealing with someone who has the authority to make or break your night. Below are some anecdotes, tips & tricks from both sides of the rope.
I remember hearing sage advice when I was an underager and lining up to get into clubs like Sugareef, Kinselas and The Freezer. I was advised to "f#$% them with your eyes" which looking back is hilarious seeing as we were all 15 and virginal. God only knows what kind of goofy looks we were giving the door guys, could you just die? Funnily enough a lot of the guys working the door in the early 90's are still there now so perhaps I should ask. ;)
My sister Fleur was the ultimate doorbitch, having worked on the velvet rope of the famous Atlantic Bar in London in the early 1990's. Every celebrity worth their column inches frequented the hotspot, from Prince to The Spice Girls and everyone in between. Fleur's job was to separate the riff from the raff so to speak, and the irony that a 21 yr old Aussie girl clad in Sportsgirl was the ultimate authority was not lost on her. She certainly saw some funny things in her time there, from Bjork & Goldie shagging in the staff toilets, to Jason Patric being turfed out for pinching ladies on the butt and Naomi Campbell turning her nose up at Louis Roderer Champagne. As one does.
Why a bitch?
Have you ever wondered why they morph from a doorgirl to a doorbitch? Most of them apparently don't start off with attitude - it's something that is acquired after long nights of endless desperados and douchebags, blistering cold, drunks and worse - so perhaps the humble doorbitch should be respected rather than reviled. In Fleur's first 2 weeks on the door she was actually way more nervous than the punters on the other side of the rope, letting anyone and everyone in, absolutely terrified of saying no. "You would be amazed at how this can affect the atmosphere & vibe of the club, and you learn this pretty quickly" Fleur says. Her tip? The doorbitch moniker is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. Don't be a bitch, just tough but fair.
Who to choose?
Fleur was instructed to let girls in who were dressed to kill, and to only let guys in if they were cashed up. She was obviously able to recognise a fabulously dressed girl but how to tell with the guys? By their watch & their shoes. Fleur became an expert at discerning between a Casio and a Cartier, a Dunhill brogue and a Kumf. The theory here is that the more gorgeous women inside, the more the rich men will pull out their cash and Platinums left right & centre to buy them drinks - also adding to the decadent atmosphere of the bar.
Um, sorry, who are you?
Once a short, grey, balding man came up to the door and looked at Fleur, who delivered her standard line which was "Good evening Sir, do you have a reservation or are you on the guest list?" He said nothing, just simply stared. Thinking he hadn't heard her she repeated the question. He continued to say nothing, but just looked at her quizzically. Becoming frustrated, she couldn't help repeating her line with a tone dripping in sarcasm, "I SAID. Do you have a reservation. Or Are. You On. THE GUEST LIST??!" Suddenly her boss appeared, pushed her aside, lifted up the rope and said "This way, Mr De Niro. Fleur, in my office NOW." Unfortunately Fleur also failed to recognise Bill Murray. Twice. She still swears to this day they were just grumpy old men.
Do you know who I am?
We all say this as a joke, but yes, people actually say this for real...more often than you would even imagine. Once the lead singer of Pulp, Jarvis Cocker, was trying to get into Atlantic (his eyeballs rolling into the back of his head) after last drinks were called, and Fleur was obviously unable to let him in. Screaming blue murder, he said: "Do you know who I am?? I'm going to get you fired!" to which she calmly replied "I know who you are, but do you know who I am? I'm the girl who's still not going to let you in." Nice.
Dealing with douchebags
Fleur once had an argument with the friend of a guy she wasn't letting in because he was inebriated. (Actually I think most of us have been in this situation with security: "I swear he's not drunk!") but on this occasion Fleur won the argument when the wasted guy pulled his willy out and started peeing at her feet. The friend, duly humiliated, took the drunk by the arm and quickly left. My sister has unfortunately been flashed a number of times but always handles herself beautifully, my favourite being when she used to work at the Four In Hand in Paddington. Some guy ordered a beer, and when she turned back around to serve it to him she saw that he had flopped his willy out onto the bar. Without skipping a beat, she responded "Sorry, we don't accept small change here." Needless to say his entire group of mates roared hysterically as he turned beetroot red and popped his wang back where it belonged. The golden rule here? The best way to beat a douchebag is to embarass him in front of his mates, a lesson from my sister that I proudly upheld during my bartending years.
Know when to give up
Some people are relentless in their pursuit to get in, when really they should recognise that it just aint gonna happen. When they were over capacity Fleur would tell people to go home, that they weren't coming in tonight - and then would watch them wait for hours and hours in minus 10 degrees, in the pouring rain, absolutely miserable, freezing and drenched. She stopped feeling sorry for them because well...you've gotta be kidding. Remember whatever bar you're at, chances are there's another bar around the corner - try your luck another night!
My claim to fame
My fave door moment happened when I was at New York Fashion Week in 2006. I was dying to go to Bungalow 8 as I'd heard so much about it, but a NY photographer friend of mine said "Like, there's absolutely NO way you'll get in there". I was like, "well why don't we just give it a shot - I'm in New York!" He argued but I won, and when we arrived at Bungalow 8 sure enough there was a queue of 150 people snaking down the street. I even ran into Josh Goot heading the opposite way who told me "We can't get in, we're leaving." For some reason nothing would dissuade me, I think I was just on such a high being back in my favourite city. So I walked straight up to the door and literally said "Hi! We're from Australia, can we come in?" Seriously, that was my line. The burly doorman, a huge 8ft tall African American named 'Disco', eyed me up and down (and no my boobs weren't out, it was February and I was in a Michelin-man style puffa jacket and beanie), looked at my friends, then casually lifted the rope to let us in. Just like that. We quickly walked in, and I turned to see my pessimistic New Yorker friend frozen to the spot with a gaping jaw. Quoting Elle from Legally Blonde I simply said, "Like that was hard?" and disppeared inside...I may have even clicked my fingers for dramatic effect. Come on, you would have too ;)
Tips for being a doorbitch
-Know what your celebrity guests & media look like
-Know what the famous Sydney gatecrashers look like! They get around...
-Build a rapport with regulars
-Get to know who the owner's friends are
-Dress appropriately. You can hardly turn unstylish people away when you look like you've just gotten out of bed
-Don't just say "no" and give no reason. 'Over capacity' and 'private party' are better, and kinder, lines
-Don't be a bitch - just tough in a nice way
Tips for dealing with a doorbitch
-Be polite. The fastest way to be turned away is to be rude
-Make a few jokes and build a rapport with the doorbitch. Even if you don't get in the first time, the next time she/he may remember you and let you in!
-Don't turn up wasted. It's illegal for clubs to let you in if you're inebriated and they can be heavily fined
-Don't think that they won't notice you're wasted. Just think of how smashed your friends seem after a few drinks when you're stone cold sober!
-Don't argue. They have the ultimate power and it NEVER helps the matter, especially in Winter when they've been freezing on the door for 8 hours
-You'll always have more luck getting in with girls than with guys. Guys should split up and enter with 2 girls each.
-No really usually does mean NO. Recognise when to cut your losses and move on to the bar next door
-Quite simply: call ahead and get your names on the door
-When in doubt just say you're from Australia, it's worked for me countless times all around the world. 25 years on from Crocodile Dundee and they STILL love us. Thanks Paul! :)