I’m not the drinking type.
At most, I’ll let loose once every two or three months, but when I do… I go ALL out.
In my late teens after I’d gained my confidence, I found myself needing more than a drab night out by the bar.
Fending off 40 year olds who liked my hair, and trying to beckon 18-20 year olds who genuinely didn’t care. In the words of my friend “You’re not on their radar.” (In fairness to the middle-aged women I did once win an award in school for best haircut, which some maintain was a joke, but I guess it worked for them.)
STATUS is an aphrodisiac, make no mistake.
It’s something I learned early and used my skills as a magician to find a way to replicate it, whilst having none.
I’m going to teach you 4 ways to get yourself from a face in the crowd, to the centre of the party. Tips that I’ve picked up over 8 years of legal nights out, but 10 years total.
Say hello to champagne on the house, 20% off drinks, the phrase “Come this way sir/miss” and FREE bottles of vodka that are bigger than your body. You are now a VIP!
As a quick disclaimer, I only use the first of these techniques now if needed. By now, overcome with guilt after many years of deception I just pay for it if necessary.
Some of the clubs I frequent remember me or have given me a VIP card already. This means I can skip the steps and head straight to my FREE table & drinks.
Here we go…
#1 The Big Round Technique
This is my FAVOURITE way to get a VIP table. It won’t always work, but it has about an 80% success rate.
You and your friends walk into a bar and up to the barman. Pool together about 3 rounds worth of money and make a statement.
Order champagne, prosecco, 3x cocktails each. Literally more than you can carry. Your first round of drinks is your bigget round… but they don’t know that 😉
On average I say 3 drinks per person is the right ratio. Too many to carry, but not too many to be able to drink within 1 hour.
Then you ask for the manager or host/hostess for the evening. The barman will radio them and the rest is up to you. Summon your inner Leo Di Caprio and give the performance of your life.
You: “Hey, I wondered what VIP areas you had free tonight?”
(The wording is imporant ‘had FREE’… it’s subtle)
Them: “Ummm I think I’ve got a table upstairs going”
You: *Point to drinks*
“I’m not that bothered about table service, but we’ve probably bought too many drinks to carry (laugh – self deprecation, acknowledge you’re silly for doing that) and need a place to put them. Can you place us anywhere?”
Them: “Follow me”
Here you’re relying on the fact that clubs don’t ALWAYS sell-out of their VIP areas. So on the night, the host/hostess has discretion on who he/she wants to put in those spare tables.
Spare tables look bad. So you won’t get charged.
The size of your first round indicates to her that you’re going to be spending that sort of money all night, so it makes sense to keep you happy. Right?
Little does she know, you’ll be drinking 2-4-1 mojitos all night after this. Or saving that Champagne on ice for when they play Craig David at midnight.
#2 The Business Card Switch
This is painful for me to give away. I’m honestly ashamed that I came up with this, and I can’t bring myself to use it anymore as it works so well.
From the title I’m sure most of you can see where this is going.
Throughout life you meet important people. Some of those people give you their business card. Some of you wrap your chewing gum up in it 2 weeks later when you don’t have anywhere to spit it out.
STOP! Swallow your gum like a champ and save those precious business cards.
Speak to the Manager at one club (it can be about cost of VIP tables there or booking your birthday in 3 months), ask for a business card. Save that business card.
In the next club, speak to the Manager / Hostess and introduce yourself as Manager of “Ministry of Sound” for example and take out ‘your’ business card from your wallet and give it to them. They’ll likely give you theirs in return.
Now you’re fully re-stocked to pull this one again later on in the next venue. Or another time.
Say “Hey, I’m the manager of ‘Ministry of Sound’ and we’re looking for a good night. (Give them the business card) Can you hook us up with a table or something?”
Being ambiguous allows them to embelish on the table request.
A table or ‘something‘…
They may give you a table and a free round of drinks or if you’re lucky a bottle of vodka & mixers.
People in the Club/Bar industry look after their own. They know how hard it is, how many drunk idiots they’ve all got to deal with and they respect those who do the same as them.
More often than not, they’ll bend over backwards for you, potentially selfishly if they intend on calling in that favour you owe them next weekend when they’re out with their friends.
SIDENOTE: Sometimes the Manager will know someone at that venue you’re posing to be from. “Oh my friend Greg works there, he’s a pain to work with right?”
Your response “Hahaha, let’s catch-up on all that later. I know you’re a busy man/woman. I don’t want to keep you. Come grab a drink with us when you’ve finished. Yeah?”
(DO NOT get involved in small talk with them if this comes up. It’s the fastest way to get kicked out.)
High five! Who would of thought that a simple piece of paper could make your night?
#3 The Flirting Technique
This one isn’t for everyone. It requires confidence, charm, wit and the self-awareness to know that it may not always work.
It’s very situational too and has worked for me two or three times entering a club early (about 9pm) when the hostess/managers are at the door. Nobody is rushing and you’ve got time for small talk.
I can’t teach you how to flirt, but I’m sure many of you reading this will be pro’s already.
Steal some of the phrasing from the last few tips and you can work it into the conversation.
You know what to do…
BONUS: Getting served first. Pick a barman/barwomen that’s going to be your go-to for the evening. When you get served ask them to recommend a drink. Whatever their favourite drink to make is.
“Okay great, I trust you. I’ll have one of those.”
Leave them a small tip. £5/$10.
It’s a tiny investment in the time vs money scheme of things.
As you take your first sip of the drink. “Sorry what’s your name again? Ben? *Shake hands with them* Thanks Ben, this is lush/nice/stunning.”
Every single time you go to the bar, get inside ‘Ben’s’ peripheral vision. Even if you’re 3 customers back at a busy bar you’ll get an acknowledgement and I promise you’ll get served before MANY others… and sometimes you’ll get a cheeky extra shot of whisky/vodka on the house.
Remember, if you’re not first, you’re last.
#4 The “I know him” Technique
This tip has two very contrasting options.
– Calling ahead
After years of shaking hands with doormen, waiters/waitresses, barstaff, hostesses and managers, you’ll naturally begin to make friends and get remembered.
I’ve had staff say to me “I haven’t seen you in ages, where’ve you been?”… I know damn well they don’t remember my name, but I don’t care, and neither should you.
You can use this to your advantage with a fresh face.
People are genuinely embarrassed when they don’t remember you but you remember them. That awkwardness is the secret to pulling this off.
If you have a favourite club in mind, a bit of Twitter/Facebook stalking will let you know who the promoter is. Or one of them.
You can also call ahead to find out who’s in charge of booking VIP tables. Get a name, then hang up immediately. That’s all you need.
Find a member of staff that’s the opposite sex to the promoter/hostess.
Say “Hey, is Melissa working tonight?”
If you get a “Yes, she’s over there” move onto option 2.
If you get a “Nah she’s not in tonight” option 1 is for you.
Option 1 – “Ah that’s a shame, we’re good friends. I’ve booked a few VIP tables with her in the past and I was hoping she was in to see what she could do. There’s only 4 of us. Not many.”
Their response will be something like : “Sam’s in, do you know Sam? No? Okay I’ll radio them now and she’ll take care of you.”
Violà, your free VIP table awaits.
Or “How many? 4 of you? Okay follow me, and you’ll get queue jump and FREE entry at the very least.”
Option 2 – Walk over to Melissa as if she’s your best friend. “Melissa! *Give hug* It’s been ages. How are you?”
She’ll have no idea who you are, but because she’s polite she’ll answer as if she does.
Time to break out your oscar winning performance. Look confused. “You don’t remember me do you? That’s okay. I’ve booked a few VIP tables and parties with you before. I’m sure you see hundreds of people… This is awkward. Sorry.”
“I was only coming to see you to see if you had any tables free tonight. What can do you do for us?”
Putting someone British under that level of awkwardness and pressure isn’t fair. She’ll be cringing and racking her Brain for your name.
Best case scenario she’ll pretend she remembers you and you’ve got your VIP area. On the house.
Worst case scenario she’ll agree with you that she sees so many people, and through way of apology, you’ve got your VIP area. On the house.
It’s cruel, but so is life and after 9 strawberry daiquiris you won’t care anyway.
Like I said these are techniques I no longer use, but do work, have worked and WILL work for you.
Don’t forget to tag me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and let me know when you’ve secured your first free VIP package. (@geraint_clarke)
Why have a good night, when you can have a great one?