Doorpeople at New York nightclubs: Advice, stories and more

Want to know how to get into a club? We spoke with four keepers of the gate at New York nightclubs for their advice.

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Ever since the days of Studio 54, the doorpeople of New York nightclubs have been one of the scene’s defining features. They’re much loathed—and if they quickly guide you past the velvet ropes, much loved—but they’re (nearly) normal people, just like you and me. Time Out gets the dirt and party recommendations from some of the current crop of gatekeeping dignitaries.

RECOMMENDED: New York nightlife guide 2013

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Doorpeople at New York nightclubs

    Lynda Kaye, Verboten (Locations, dates and price varies; visit verbotennewyork.com for details)

    How she got her start on the door: “I grew up in New York City. I started going out as a teenager, met a ton of people in nightlife and began working as a cashier. Shortly thereafter, The Dog & Pony show began, and I was their original door girl, which led to working at Verboten.”

    The worst thing about the job: “Being the sober one at the end of a party ending at 8am is just never how I envisioned my nightlife persona.”

    The best thing about the job: “I love all the different kinds of people who come to Verboten. I get to meet so many unique personalities, while hanging out with my Verboten coworkers who have become my family.”

    The most memorable thing she’s seen working the door: “A guy I had been out on one date with showed up at my party to have a serious discussion about ‘us’. I should mention, he’s not someone who typically goes to these types of events. He clearly went on the Verboten website, purchased a ticket and showed up to confront me. How anyone would think this was a good time to talk is beyond me. Somehow I doubt this type of thing happens to accountants or school teachers while they’re at work. Needless to say, there was no second date.”

    Best (or worst) lines she’s heard: “Where do I start? So many come to mind. My favorite one is when people approach me and say ‘Lynda says I’m VIP,’ when I have no clue who they are.”

    Tips on etiquette: “Don’t touch me. Don’t touch my rope. It is there for a reason. Finally, don’t be entitled. Be polite and respectful. That will get you in much faster then being a jerk.”

    Where she goes to party: “When I’m feeling fierce, I go to Provocateur [18 Ninth Ave between Little W 12th and 13th Sts; 212-929-9036, provocateurny.com]. When I want to dance, I go to Fixed [Locations and dates vary, visit fixednyc.com for details].”

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Doorpeople at New York nightclubs

    Monstah Black, Deep Space at Cielo (18 Little W 12th St between Ninth Ave and Washington St; 212-645-5700, cieloclub.com; 10pm, $15)

    How he got his start on the door: “My first introduction to being a door person was in a play called Cymbals created by my dear friends Karma and Erica years ago. I played the role of Papa Legba, the African god/gate-keeper of the crossroads. Since then I’ve seemed to fall into roles that were similar to that one; a charismatic, shape-shifting, gender-bending, inexplicable creature manning the portal to events that transport thrill seekers through sound, dance and spirits (cocktails). When the position opened at Deep Space at Cielo I was excited to jump right in, fairy dust and all.”

    The worst thing about the job: “The worst thing about the job of a door person is not being able to be on the other side of the door, particularly if you’re also capable of being the dance floor person. Also, it’s not so fun when it’s freezing outside.”

    The best thing about the job: “The best thing about the job of the door person is meeting people from around the world, particularly when working for Deep Space at Cielo. I love to travel and fortunately my passion (music and performance) requires me to travel to near and far places to perform.”

    The most memorable thing he’s seen working the door: “The first thing that popped into my mind was recently having a family visiting from Miami, who were out much too early to expect a skirt-slinging jamboree resembling the debauchery of Studio 54. They exited the party with attitudes stating ‘this is not Miami Disco.’ So, I responded, ‘this is not Miami, I’m sure there is a flight leaving in a couple of hours, you can be in a Miami Disco by nightfall on Tuesday.’ It’s also annoying when people fall face first over the velvet rope as they are exiting the party. You partied too hard.

    Best (or worst) lines he’s heard: “‘We’re going to buy a lot of drinks at the bar so let us skip the line and get in for free,’ and ‘My girlfriend is too pretty to pay the cover.’ Also ‘You always let us in for free.’ So what’s my name? Thought so. Thank you, good night (said with a slight smile).”

    Tips on etiquette: Know who I am and be able to recite lines from my latest song I just released in cyber space with The Illustrious Blacks, Girls Like Bass, my solo project “Submerged In Blue, monstahblack.com” or from The Blacks webisode “At Home With The Blacks”. If you don’t know any of these, shower me with gifts and compliments beyond what I’m wearing, and exercise patience.”

    Where he goes to party: “When am I not working? Just kidding. “I go to Manchildblack and Ian Fridays party Libation at the Sullivan Room [218 Sullivan St between Bleecker and W 3rd Sts; 212-252-2151, sullivanroom.com; Next event TBA, visit facebook.com/libationparty for details], or the Illustrious Blacks party Astro Disco at One Last Shag [348 Franklin Ave between Greene and Lexington Aves, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn; 718-398-2472, facebook.com/onelastshag; Next event TBA]. They are both havens for losing yourself in beats and bass.” If there is a party and music is playing and I’m dressed up on the dance floor, spinning my self into a dizzy frenzy, then I’m working.”

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Doorpeople at New York nightclubs

    Markus Kelleman, Vandam Sundays at Greenhouse (150 Varick St at Vandam St; 212-807-7000, greenhouseusa.com; Sun 10pm, free), Westgay at the Westway (75 Clarkson St between Washington and West Sts; 212-620-0101, westwaynyc.com; Tue 10pm–4am, $5), Rockit Fridays at XL Nightclub (510 W 42nd St between Tenth and Eleventh Aves; 212-239-2999, xlnightclub.com; Fri 10pm, $15, members $10).

    How he got his start on the door: “Totally by accident. I’d like think maybe it was because of my look or my background in PR. Credit goes to Tony Fornabaio for taking a chance on a boy in a dress.”

    The worst thing about the job: “It’s a tie between dealing with entitlement issues and trying to work a look in freezing weather.”

    The most memorable thing he’s seen working the door: “I’m inclined to say that the strangest thing I’ve ever seen on the door is the g’ed out circuit queen getting strapped into riot cuffs insisting he was a werewolf. Maybe he had Twilight fetish?”

    Best (or worst) lines he’s heard: “The best brag would probably be a female drunkenly boasting she went to high school with Bill Murray (who was neither in attendance or affiliated with the nightclub). The worst was the gaysian who claimed that we were related through my mother’s brother (I only have two aunts on her side).”

    Tips on etiquette: “Work a fierce look, not a bad attidude; and humor and patience are both virtues.”

    Where he goes to party: “I work seven nights a week; you’d be silly to miss Vandam at Greenhouse or Westgay at Westway. On my rare night off you’ll find me in bed, sleeping or being slept with.”

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Doorpeople at New York nightclubs

    James Savage, Dance.Here.Now at Cielo (18 Little W 12th St between Ninth Ave and Washington St; 212-645-5700, cieloclub.com; dates and prices vary, visit danceherenownyc.com for details)

    How he got his start on the door: “The Tunnel Nightclub had a Tuesday Night party called The Underground. I did the door with Willie Ninja he was a great talent and he is missed.”

    The worst thing about the job: “When someone’s name is on a guest list it’s a privilege and not guaranteed entry. Guest lists close at a certain time that means Yes, it is actually closed and No, I can’t just do one more. Giving comps out after the list closes is like stealing from an owner or promoter who trust me to help turn a profit.”

    The best thing the job: “Working with talented creative people and of course the music.”

    The most memorable thing he’s seen working the door: “A customer once tried to tip me with a six pack of Budweiser.”

    Best (or worst) lines he’s heard: “‘Can I just check it out quickly and come right out?’”

    Tips on etiquette: “Be polite, dress like you’re on your first date, look directly in the door-person’s eyes with confidence, always have your identification in hand with credit card if you’re purchasing a bottle.”

    Where he goes to party: “718 Sessions [Santos Party House, 96 Lafayette St at Walker St; 212-714-4646, santospartyhouse.com; dates vary, visit dannykrivit.net for details; $20, before 7pm $5] is the best monthly party in New York. It’s new school meets old school—it’s real New York City. XL Nightclub, Lounge & Cabaret has cutting-edge live shows. Dance.Here.Now. [danceherenownyc.com] and Nervous Records [nervousnyc.com] both have a great mix of DJs at Cielo. Pacha [618 W 46th St between Eleventh and Twelfth Aves; 212-209-7500, pachanyc.com] still kills it with the best staff and a consistent track record of top DJs from around the world.”

Photograph: Loren Wohl

Doorpeople at New York nightclubs

Lynda Kaye, Verboten (Locations, dates and price varies; visit verbotennewyork.com for details)

How she got her start on the door: “I grew up in New York City. I started going out as a teenager, met a ton of people in nightlife and began working as a cashier. Shortly thereafter, The Dog & Pony show began, and I was their original door girl, which led to working at Verboten.”

The worst thing about the job: “Being the sober one at the end of a party ending at 8am is just never how I envisioned my nightlife persona.”

The best thing about the job: “I love all the different kinds of people who come to Verboten. I get to meet so many unique personalities, while hanging out with my Verboten coworkers who have become my family.”

The most memorable thing she’s seen working the door: “A guy I had been out on one date with showed up at my party to have a serious discussion about ‘us’. I should mention, he’s not someone who typically goes to these types of events. He clearly went on the Verboten website, purchased a ticket and showed up to confront me. How anyone would think this was a good time to talk is beyond me. Somehow I doubt this type of thing happens to accountants or school teachers while they’re at work. Needless to say, there was no second date.”

Best (or worst) lines she’s heard: “Where do I start? So many come to mind. My favorite one is when people approach me and say ‘Lynda says I’m VIP,’ when I have no clue who they are.”

Tips on etiquette: “Don’t touch me. Don’t touch my rope. It is there for a reason. Finally, don’t be entitled. Be polite and respectful. That will get you in much faster then being a jerk.”

Where she goes to party: “When I’m feeling fierce, I go to Provocateur [18 Ninth Ave between Little W 12th and 13th Sts; 212-929-9036, provocateurny.com]. When I want to dance, I go to Fixed [Locations and dates vary, visit fixednyc.com for details].”


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