How To Get in to Exclusive NYC Clubs and Lounges

A huge part of the allure of NYC nightclubs is the crowd that they attract. At clubs in New York it is entirely possible to hang out right next to A-list celebs, stars of blockbuster films and musicians that sell out stadiums. You can party with fashion models that strut down the runway– or that you have seen in magazines. But– none of these experiences can be had by just anyone. The reason is– any NYC club that draws an elite crowd (like ones where the celebs & fashion crowd hang out) is VERY selective about who is allowed in.

However — getting in is not impossible. You just need to learn how things work. In this 4 part series — you will learn everything there is to know about how to get into an exclusive NYC nightclub

Once you master the knowledge in this article — you should be able to get past even the tightest nightclub doors in NYC.

Exclusive NYC Clubs and Lounges


Part 1 – In the first part of this series, we will look at how exclusive clubs use  the image of their crowds to brand themselves and some ways that you can use this to your advantage


When it comes to getting into NYC nightclubs– your image (how you present yourself) is a super important factor that doormen use when deciding who gets in and who does not.

NYC Nightclub doormen are basically social curators– who are paid (and paid pretty well, actually) to decide who gets in & who gets turned away.

Doormen at the most exclusive clubs want to let in people that they think will add something special to the room.

People that they think will behave in a way that helps other guests enjoy themselves. Or, people that look cool & have a bold sense of style. And of course, every doorman wants to let in beautiful people.

Image is more than what kind of shirt, or shoes you are wearing– it is the whole package that you present.

Image is like a short, entirely visual, biography (as embellished as it may be) that you share with everyone you encounter. It is your way of presenting your story.

NYC Nightclub doormen are experts at reading image– and letting in only those that they think fit in.

In order to get into the most in demand clubs in NYC– you need to present yourself in a way that matches the image which that specific club tries to encourage.

In some cases, having the correct image might mean looking like you just jetsetted in from Monaco. Or, it could mean looking like a disheveled poet who has ventured out of their SoHo loft for some night time excitement. It might also mean looking like an energetic young Manhattan professional.

At Social Yeti– we have identified 4 basic image types that can be used to describe pretty much any nightclub crowd that you might encounter in New York.

Lets take a look at the 4 crowd types– and then we will talk about how understanding these crowd types can help you get into the nightclub or lounge of your choice.


upscale – These are your jetsetters, your movie stars and your fashion models. Clubs with upscale crowds usually have crowds that are more mature (but not necessarily older)– they also tend to be the most expensive.

downtown – These are your avant-garde, fashion forward creative types. If you like artists, the fashion industry or creative people that are disheveled, sexy and probably smoking a cigarette– this is your crowd.

young professionals – These are the young bankers, marketing professionals or accountants. They are probably in their early twenties and live somewhere in Manhattan. This type of crowd is full of youthful energy and is generally pretty attractive (though don’t expect leggy fashion models like you can find at downtown & upscale parties) Example: parties at Southside or Hotel Chantelle

Urban – These are your hip hop parties– they draw many famous hip hop artists and pro athletes example: Tuesday Baby Tuesday at Finale

You can read more about NYC nightclub crowd types and checkout a chart of clubs organized by crowd type by clicking here.

How Can Knowing About Nightlife Crowd Types Help You Get into Clubs?

Once you know what kind of crowd a certain club likes to attract– you can drastically increase your chances of getting in simple by making slight adjustments to your image.

There are some rules of thumb when it comes to image that exclusive clubs– By making small adjustments to your attire– you can bring your image inline with the club’s desired image & greatly enhance your chances of getting in.

Appealing image traits –

  • High Heels – Most upscale places a premium on height, especially for women– if you have a collection of heels- pick out the tallest pair and slide those puppies onto your feet– wearing them will definitely help you get in. Heels tends to be less important at parties that at not ‘upscale’ parties.
  • Slender build – Prevalent social norms associate a slender physique with health, affluence, and beauty.  Exclusive venues capitalize on this by favoring people with a slender build.
  • Affluent dress – Have a Hermes belt or Gucci loafers (for men) Louboutin Heels or a Gucci bag (for women)?  The doorman has a keen eye for these kinds of things and they can mean the difference between being admitted and being turned away.  Clubs seek to promote the idea that the crowds they host are affluent and successful, superficial details like this are instrumental in achieving the appearance of wealth.  Shoes are particularly important for men and women alike; and they are a topic which many men are clueless about. Having an affluent appearance is especially important at upscale clubs
  • Fashion Forward Style – If you have a unique sense of style, and can pull it off (not many can) they doorman will reward this.  Many doormen have a unique sense of style themselves. this is particularly important at clubs which have a downtown image
  • Beauty – Man or woman, if your looks are striking, there are very few doors that will be closed to you — this will help you out pretty much anywhere
  • The Fairer Sex – If you are a women, your social value is much higher in the nightlife world

Image Traits That are Discouraged

  • Outer borough image – The appearance of this crowd inside an exclusive venue may very well be the death knell that signals its fall from elite status — the reason is that crowds from the outer boroughs have a reputation for fighting, stealing cell phones and other undesirable behavior. In other words- try to avoid looking like you are from the Jersey Shore
  • Business Casual – Nightlife is about partying, the venue does not want to emphasize someone’s daytime existence as a cubical slave at J.P Morgan.  Lose the tie and keep the checked button down shirt in the closet.
  • Groups of only guys – If you are an unfamiliar face at these places and arrive with a large group of guys, forget about getting in.  By showing up with only guys you give the impression that your group is the kind that repels women.  They don’t want you coming in and scaring away all the ladies.  Bring some female friends with you.
  • Square toe shoes (for guys) — this is definitely discouraged in a nightlife setting & if you wear them New Yorkers will think you manage cellphone kiosk in a New Jersey shopping mall (not that there is anything wrong with that)
  • Tank tops, flip flops, sweat pants – Look like you are making an effort.  Unless you are a successful female model or a famous pop star you will never getting in wearing any of these things

Understanding a club’s image, and how you can present yourself to help promote the image it is trying to portray, can be your key to smoothly sailing past the doorman.


Part 2 –  We will look at the three things that clubs value and how you must bring something that the clubs want in order to be invited in.


In our previous post, we looked at how elite clubs curate a crowd for branding purposes and how that leads to them adopting ‘exclusive’ door policies.

In this post, we will look some of the things that club managers value and how contributing something of value can be your ticket to getting in.


All clubs and lounges value 3 basic elements.

1) Money
2) Branding
3) Publicity

To be invited inside, you must help the club acquire one of these things.

The more of any one of these elements that you bring, the less of the others you will be required to have.

For example, if you can afford to pay $2,000-$3,000 for table, than you will not be expected to contribute in any way to the club’s branding or publicity.

Alternatively, if you are a celebrity and your presence greatly contributes to both the clubs brand and its publicity (people tweet about your appearance, or it is written up in blogs or newspapers) than the club will often comp you as many free drinks as you like (you will not be required to spend any money at all).

Let’s take a look at each of these three elements of value.


This is perhaps the most straightforward, and is usually the only option available to most people.

If you can afford to commit to spend a large amount of money, there are very few places in the city that you cannot get into.

If the doorman has reason to believe that you will somehow positively contribute to the atmosphere of the party in ways other than spending a lot of money, the amount that you must spend to gain entry will be reduced.

The doorman makes this assessment in a few ways, including: 1) your image 2) if you are a regular 3) someone with authority has vouched for you by putting you on the guest list.


The branding angle is far more complex than the money angle.

There is a significant amount of variation in how clubs approach branding.

As we saw in our previous post, the defining feature of an exclusive club is that it brands itself based on its crowd.

In other words, exclusive clubs are more about the people that attend and less about the music or the décor.

If your presence contributes enough to the club’s brand (by being a successful model, or celeb for instance) you will never have to pay for a drink in NYC.

To see a list of some of the things that exclusive clubs tend to value in their crowd, read our previous post.


Bloggers, newspaper columnists, celebrities (for their ability to garner press attention) – all of these are valued guests for most clubs.

If you are somehow involved with any of these, and your following is significant and relevant, you may use it to gain entry.  If this is your chosen method, it is usually best to contact the club ahead of time and let them know who you are so that they can put you on the Guest list.

The doorman will not have time, or patients to listen to who you are.  Doormen are naturally suspicious of people that try to explain why they should be let in; do yourself a favor and make arrangements in advance if this is your plan of attack.

Nightlife Case Study – How they got in:

How to Get into Exclusive NYC Clubs & Lounges - Case Study

Hopefully, you now understand how exclusive nightclubs decide who gets in– and have an idea about how to use these elements to your advantage when trying to get past the velvet rope.

Continue reading about ways to get into exclusive nightclubs by checking out the other articles in this series. (links below).


Part 3 – We explain how to interact with the door staff so that you don’t get rejected.

How to Interact With the Doorman

In part 2 of this series, we took a look at how bringing something of value to the club is the best way to get into a club or lounge.

In this post, we will take a look at another important factor in getting into clubs:  How you interact with the door manager.

How you behave at the door and how you interact with the door manager play a big part in your chances of getting in to an exclusive club or lounge.

Regardless of whether or not you are on the list, or if you are a person that contributes to the brand of a club, or if you are there to spend big money – proper door etiquette is essential.

The doorman has the final say on who comes in and who does not.  Follow these simple guidelines to increase your chances of getting in.


Project confidence

Door managers are experts at reading people.  If your behavior is timid, or unsure in any way, they will pick up on it and will mirror any doubt that you may have.

Act like you belong, and you will belong.  Below are some pointers that will help you project a confident image.

  • Body language – Stand tall, do not cross your arms, do not appear uncertain
  • Do not line up behind others (within reason) – this is a sign of weakness, what kind of person waits in a line to get in?  Don’t be that person.
  • Never adopt a negative or bitchy attitude – would you want to let someone with that attitude in to your club?
  • Never say to your friend “We are never going to get in” – not with that kind of attitude, do not express negativity.  Not only will the door staff pick up on it,  people don’t want to be around it.

And remember, acting like you belong is never a bad move

Be respectful

Whether or not you are invited in is entirely at the door person’s discretion.  They are often busy and distracted; don’t do anything to make their job harder.  Do not lose your temper, as they will remember you and the opportunity for you to come back will be gone for good.

Do not act needy – Don’t try to befriend the door person, or suck up to them so that they will let you in.  They will see right through this and find it very disingenuous.  Just walk up to them, get their attention, tell them who you are with and leave it at that.

Steps to follow when interacting with the doorman

1. Get their attention and point out the people you are trying to enter with – At this point they will usually ask you if you are joining a particular party, or are on the list- now is a good time to tell them what list you are on (if you are in fact on a list).  If you are not on a list, the appropriate response is “it is just us” (or, “just me”, depending).  Note that being on a list does not guarantee entry, it is still at the discretion of the door staff.

2. Confer with them about your options – After step one, if you are not granted entry, there exists another option by which you can still gain admittance.  This is by agreeing to spend a minimum at the bar.  The minimum amount is usually decided upon by the doorman on the spot based on the characteristics of your group (remember branding?) and how busy it is that night.

3. Thank them – and either proceed inside or move along to another destination, depending on the outcome.  Being polite and respectful is essential, remember that if you make the door persons job any harder than it has to be, you will develop a bad reputation and ruin any chances of getting in to that establishment in the future.

Never do any of this stuff

Say – “But we have money to spend!”, If this is true, offer to agree to a bar minimum.

Adopt a hostile tone – not going to help you.  Don’t be the person that says “Do you have any idea who I think I am?”

Try to bribe the door person – It is much more effective to agree to spend a minimum, the door person would only be insulted by any amount that would make economical sense for you to offer.  It is better to just spend that money at the bar.

Following these pointers and you should have a smooth interaction with the door staff, and greatly increase your chances of being invited in.

Part 4 – We look at you you need to know in nightlife – and how they can help you get in

Who You Need to Know to Get Into Exclusive New York Clubs & Lounges:

In Part 3 of this series, we took a look at how you should interact with the door staff to increase your chances of getting in.

In today’s post, we will look at the types of people that you need to know, and how they can get you in.

There are 4 basic types of people that can get you into a club:

  • The door manager
  • the club manager
  • promoters
  • the club owner

lets take a look at each and see how knowing them can help you get in:


Why knowing the door manager is great

  • All you need to do is get their attention and you will get in, without having to explain anything
  • Relationship requires very little cultivation before it starts helping you get in
  • At a majority of venues, entrance is ultimately up to the door staff, whether you RSVPed or not

How you can get to know the door staff

  • The simplest way is to show up to the club frequently and be known for bringing something of value (as we saw in part two of this series)

For people who are trying to get into a club, this is perhaps the best relationship that you can have.  Having the door staff recognize you as a regular, and remember letting you in many times before is the easiest way to get in to an exclusive club.   This type of relationship is often the shallowest, all that is required that the doorman recognize you.  However, those that actually develop a deeper relationship with the door staff may be able to get in even on special occasions when the door is the tightest (for instance, when a big name DJ is playing, or an important person’s birthday).


Why knowing the club manager is great

  • The club manager can put you on the list, which is the only way for most people to get into the super exclusive venues (Provocateur, Boom Boom Room, No 8, for instance)
  • If your presence is seen as a significant positive, the manager may possibly give you free drinks tickets
  • You can sometimes get in simply by dropping the managers name, however be careful not to bluff with this one, as the door staff can smell a lie, and they will often ask you to text the manager to come out (bad news if you don’t have their number)

Things to know about getting to know the manager

  • Getting to know the manager is less straightforward than getting to know the door staff because you must develop the relationship to a greater extent than with the door staff (typically you will need to have their phone number, at least)
  • The relationship must be mutually beneficial (you bring something to the club, such as publicity, in exchange for access)
  • If you know the manager, you will still have to convince the door staff to let you in, for this reason we think that knowing the manager is less advantageous in most scenarios
  • Typically, you will at least have to have the managers contact information before this type of relationship becomes useful

Why knowing a promoter is great

  • In some instances promoters can give you discounts on the bottles that you purchase (the discount comes in the form of being able to buy a table add-on, instead of being required to commit to a substantially higher table minimum)
  • There are usually many promoters working at top clubs, and it is there job to bring people to the club, so it is much easier convince them to invite you out as everyone’s incentives are aligned
  • In certain instances, promoters will be able to give you free drinks
  • Unlike other nightlife relationships, promoters often work at many different venues, which means that you can potentially gain access to many different places just through one relationship

What you need to know about promoters:

  • When it comes to getting you in the club, a relationship with a promoter carries the least weight.  Entrance is still entirely at the discretion of the door staff
  • To be invited by a promoter, you must give them a reason to believe they you will contribute to their group in some way

Being friends with a promoter can have many perks.  Promoters know about the best parties, they work in many different venues, and sometimes they are even able to get you free drinks.  However, of all the relationships, their power to get you in is the most limited.


Why knowing a venue owner is great

  • They can put you on the list
  • Owners frequently host their own tables, often times in the company of celebrities, models and well connected people. If you know them well enough you may be invited to join their table

What to know about venue owners

  • This kind of relationship is usually only available to people that are able to bring a TON of value to a venue either by: frequently spend a great deal of money, being a successful and well known fashion model, being famous in some way, or can produce massive publicity for the venue. Understandably, this kind of relationship simply is not available to very many people
  • If you somehow become friends with a venue owner,  then lucky you, because this is the best kind of relationship to have

Hopefully you now have an understanding of what it takes to get into an exclusive venue.  If you don’t get in the first time, don’t take it personally.  Just remember that not every venue is right for everyone anyway.

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