There is only one man in this world whose approval I seek: It is the club bouncer’s. The silent douche of the door until somebody crosses him (literally), the bouncer is superior in size to the promoter but was even less cool in high school. He was hired for an entry-level job and has stood at the door ever since.
I am no stranger to some of the toughest doors, both domestically and abroad. I have been welcomed and rejected to more clubs than an overachieving child of pushy immigrant parents. And I have to say, even when I do get past the burly guy and inside the club (which is more often than not, natch), I shudder the confrontation every time -- especially in New York City.
Despite fully knowing that these surly men will eventually disappear along with the rest of night, doormen have this other-worldly power to make even the hottest and most confident of girls feel vulnerable or unwanted. The doorman is like the world’s worst boyfriend who demands you look up-to-par, manipulates his attention and always has the upper hand. And, like any bellicose MTV "Jersey Shore" character, he has no problem humiliating you in public or ruining your night.
The bouncer's angry projections must come from a special nightclub-induced place in his heart that is frustrated from having to take orders from a promoter boss who is even more arrogant and pathetic. Anyone who buys into the idea that is it socially acceptable to discriminate based on an individual’s looks or finances cannot be a good person. And someone who profits at the expense of other people's misery has a warped sense of morality.
“You don’t need to be terrifying,” my friend said recently to a particularly antagonistic bouncer who was preposterously barking at us for merely exiting a West Village establishment. That’s right; we had already danced inside, threw our hands up in the air and screamed “Ayo, let’s go” and drank ridiculously overpriced liquor.
Now, at nearly 4 am, we were being chewed out for leaving through a door that was (apparently incorrectly) marked as “EXIT.” The bouncer, at 6’4” with a face of Mike Tyson, was truly sh*t-your-harem-pants frightening.
That wasn’t the first bad encounter at the club that night, either. After we watched the most seemingly horrendous individuals enter in front of us (read: well-to-do corporate-types and overtly underage girls who act like they own the place because their fathers probably do), we figured it wouldn’t be a problem for three well-dressed and experienced doorman-negotiators to get in.
Well, it was, and we were left with no choice but to stand and wait patiently on line with the rest of the dejected plebeians, which is universally humiliating and demeaning, yet the most effective method to actually make it inside. Doorman - 1, Us - 0
When this happens, it’s important to remember that bouncers have never known or experienced fun in their lives and that is why they are so content to stand on the outskirts all night -- and, for that matter, why they have no remorse preventing others from partaking in it, as well. Basically, the bouncer is the ultimate, unrelenting dark cloud that ruins your entire Bahamas vacation.
Of course, there are bouncers who are actually doing their jobs breaking up fights and maintaining the legal limit of people in the building. But there are way too many others, particularly in New York City, who use this sleazy position of power to make up for years of being taunted as the biggest kid in the class. If I could tell my 9-year-old cousin one piece of clubbing advice, it would be: Be careful; the kid you’re teasing now for being huge and stupid and hormonally advanced will one day turn the tables right back on you… or become a football player.
Coming from a girl who loves exclusivity more than I don't, I understand that certain high-end clubs must establish and maintain a certain level of posh-ness and pretentiousness. But do this by attracting celebrities or people in the spotlight, not by turning away "undesirable" patrons. Don't forget that your job is to get others to attend, populate and spend money at your club. You can't do that by preventing people from coming inside.
The key to dealing with a bouncer is all in the approach: The time you spend outside is inversely proportional to the time you will spend inside. Meaning, the longer you harass them to let you in, or stand around being pissed like you just got shut out of the Red Hot Chili Peppers presale, the less time you’ll have fist-pumping and spilling drinks on yourself.
It doesn’t make the doorman’s job any more or less toolish. I’ve seen the rise and fall of Pachas worldwide, and I’ve never seen a welcoming bouncer who is happy to be there. Think about it: it must really suck playing Robin to your even scummier and sleazier Batman boss, despite being bigger in size and a waste of space. No matter how miserable they are, you can’t help but feel a small pang of sorry for people who hate their profession that much.
For how annoyed we can feel when we’re told to wait on line, though, we feel equally triumphant when we seamlessly stroll past the velvet ropes and into the music. That’s the thing about bouncers; they’re kind of like carbs. They can make us feel great and put us on a crazy high, just as fast as they can take it all away and leave us feeling terrible, fat and, yet, still wanting in.
So why do we keep opening ourselves up to such scrutiny? Mainly because these horrifying encounters have become increasingly infrequent since turning 21 and buying a pair of nice heels, but also because there is no place we’d rather be than cutting loose with our friends on the dancefloor to awesome music.
At the end of the day (no pun intended), a big man with a measly ID-verification machine isn’t going to stop me from clubbing, dancing or having a good time at the bar. Unless, of course, he physically does.