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The Phoniest Nightclub Line in Chicago

Recently, I was detoured by a couple of semi-reformed club kids to one of Chicago’s allegedly hotter and trendier clubs. Fortunately, Paris Hilton was not in attendance that night, but there was plenty else to find unintentionally funny.

We started out in The Line. The Chicago market really doesn’t tolerate much over 3 places with the New York-style line at any one time. When I say the New York-style line, I mean the line that has to be in place even if the joint isn’t full. The line where you can cut if your attire is deemed trendy enough. The line where if you aren’t deemed trendy enough, you suddenly aren’t on any lists and can’t get in… unless you know how to bribe the doorman.

I had no idea this was going to be my destination for the evening, so I wasn’t dressed for the occasion. For that matter, I was wearing my Starbury’s, and wasn’t sure I’d even be let in without going home for non-sneakers. Then again, semi-reformed club kid #2 wasn’t aware that’s where we were going either, and while closer to the mark than I, was also on the downward fashion slope. Suffice it to say, we walked up expecting grief.

So we arrived and settled in line behind three young ladies that while as cleaned up for the evening and as expensively dressed as they could get, still looked like water buffaloes in dresses. Standing behind them as a group of 50-something guys who looked like they just got done mowing their lawns bypassed the line made me immediately realize we were in one of the aforementioned BS New York lines and club kid #2 started a countdown as to how long he’d deign to wait in a bogus line.

As the line slowly moved (and people bypassing it moved in more quickly), the first outright laugh came from the worst bribe artist I’ve ever seen in my life. A dweeb of boy, who couldn’t have been that much over 21, approached the bouncer who kept the clipboards. He wasn’t, I believe “dress to impress” is the current lame euphemism they’re using in Chicago? Worse, it looked like he was trying to be dressed to impress. Well, it wasn’t his only failure of the evening. He slowly, almost theatrically (though I don’t think it was intentional) produces an itty-bitty pouch-wallet. With his hand at a 45-degree angle to his wrist, slowly unzips the pouch. Hand still at a 45-degree angle, sifts through said pouch and produces a bill of whose denomination I wasn’t close enough to see and hands it to the doorman almost at shoulder-level.

This was the absolute worst handoff of a doorman bribe I’d ever seen in my life. This dufus was making a production out of the hand-off where everyone in line had no choice but to watch if their were even vaguely looking in the direction of the door. Of course the doorman took his money. But this kid was such a reject from the genetic pool, after taking the money, the doorman turned away and ignored him. Worse, separated from his money and still not let in, the kid just stood there and took it.

As Dippy McDipstick stood there with a blank look, the Water Buffalo Sisters approached the rope. They’d been talking some serious smack to the guys in front of them about how good they were at getting through lines. (Club kid #2 and I both found their amorous fabrications annoying enough to contemplate leaving right there and then.) Sure enough, the doorman looks at them, comes dangerously close to visibly wincing and immediately says he can’t find their names on the list. These three self-declared experts on lines immediately turned walked away in huff, so abruptly that the doorman hadn’t finished his well-rehearsed speech for such occasions.

Dippy McDipstick was still standing there, bewildered.

So now it was our turn at the bat. The doorman shot a look to a young lovely with another clipboard standing directly next to the door before addressing club kid #1. Three guys on a weekend evening entering a self-proclaimed nightclub? Yeah, dream on. Predictably, the list that club kid #1 signed up on could not be found. Did we walk awat in a huff? No. In keeping with nightclub clichés (like a group of guys being given grief) passing some bills in a handshake made all the problems go away and we walked right in. No ID check, no “formal” cover charge, and the biggest bouncer I’ve seen in a long time parted the crowd so club kid #1 could quickly get to the bathroom.

What do we learn from this little adventure?

#1 Nightclub lines are bogus, especially before midnight.
#2 If you’re a group of guys or a group of women wearing over a size 10, you’re not getting in without a bribe.
#3 Why wait in line when you can simply go to the front and just drop your money then?
#4 Don’t show the world the money when you’re bribing the bouncer.

Yes, the experience was a completely contrived event to make the club look more popular than it was and to line the doorman’s pocket, but that unskilled briber never got in, as far as I saw and I don’t think the doorman was issuing refunds.

It’s nice to see consistency in contempt for the customer in the nightclub industry, though.

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