Jumping the velvet rope

Tantrum not working? Try these tips for getting into your favorite club.

GUARDIAN ANGEL Be nice to doormen and they’ll respond in kind.

GUARDIAN ANGEL Be nice to doormen and they’ll respond in kind. Michael Scott Kenney

Unless you’re 50 Cent or a friend of the owner, getting into a hot club can be a challenge, not to mention fairly humiliating. But it’s not impossible (if you’re 21, that is). You just have to play by the rules of the game. Here are some strategies for upping the odds.

Plan ahead. Promoters are often paid by body count, so find out who’s handling a specific night and e-mail that person to get on the guest list. Check the club’s website to hunt down the hosts. or call—you’ll learn in advance about hard-to-crash “private events,” like record-release parties or P. Diddy’s birthday bash.

Get to know the gatekeepers. Stop by in advance of your night crawl and say hello, but don’t linger. Introduce yourself, learn their names, and move on. (There’s a line between being friendly and stalking—don’t cross it.) Sometimes that flash of recognition when you return later will get you the nod. If you do gain entry, be polite when leaving. As veteran doorman Rich Thomas (pictured, above) once told us: “Everyone’s nice when they first walk up, it’s those who take the time to say thank you as they exit that I remember.”

Head out early. Avoiding the bridge-and-tunnel crowds on weekends will lower your risk of drama at the door. And don’t make your meet-up time too late—those minding the door are more apt to wave you through earlier in the evening.

Remember, it’s all about the mix. Women generally have a better chance of getting in, but it isn’t a guarantee. It all depends on the night and who’s already inside. What really matters is whether you’re going to do more to liven up the room.

Don’t travel in all-male packs. Unless you’re off to a gay club, large groups of men generally won’t do more for the mix.

Ditch the too-dapper duds. Your clothes are your personality, and what you wear can add value to a nightclub’s rep. Dressing with a style all your own often works better, for both guys and girls, than dressing up.