I love hosting parties at nightclubs and lounges in the summertime. I learned the ropes being “the man” in the lounge from my friends in Manhattan a few years ago. You see, all my New York buds host parties at lounges because their apartments are too small to invite all of their friends over. Plus, this strategy insures that there’s no mess to clean up the next day. Now that’s my kind of party.
Truth be told, I’d rather be a guest at a party than the host. But when it comes to hanging at one of the Lehigh Valley’s top nightspots, I love taking charge and holding court. The following is a handy guide to summer nightlife. Utilize my wisdom and expertise only if you want to have fun, meet new people, and gain a reputation as a cool guy who is always treated like a V.I.P.
The first step in this process involves some easy planning. Select the wardrobe. Determine the guest list. Identify the location. Now I’m not talking about organizing soirees for 30 people. I’m talking about selecting 3 to 8 stylish friends to kick it with at one of the Valley’s premier venues. After all, you want to meet some sexy new friends, right? Now this part is pretty cut and dry. If you want to attract hotties while holding court, invite some eye candy to your bash. If you’re single, mix it up and invite “the hot friend”, “the sexy hairdresser”, and “that cute babe at the café that’s always flirting with you” to “swing through if they’re out that night”. Be cool. Don’t come on too strong. And don’t expect anything. If they show, it’s on. If they don’t, you’re still the suave guy that organized a rockin’ night out at one of the region’s top joints.
If you’re in a relationship, don’t invite the hot babes, unless your significant other is into that. And lucky you if she is. Obviously, the guest list can include a few couples and singles if you’re “attached”. Like anything else we do, be smart and don’t invite former couples that are dating other people and hate each other. That could turn into a disaster. And forget “Mr. Loud Drunk”, “Ms. Homophobic Racist”, and “Mr. Angry Stalker” for this party. We’re talking about organizing a sophisticated, stylish night out.
Now let’s say you want to chill at Level 3 atop Melt at The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley or the hot new roof deck at The Cosmopolitan in Allentown. Your next move involves a phone call to their nightlife manager. This is a critical move that will ensure you get the treatment you’re looking for. This is the most important step in this plan. Here’s your script: “I’d like to reserve a table for (fill in this number based on your group size) near the center of your outside row of tables”. There are a couple of very important elements in that correspondence. You sound like you and have experience doing this, and that you know what you want. And your sense of confidence in directing where you’d like to sit comes off so strong that you’ll be perceived as and treated like a player. I like sitting in the outside row of tables when that’s an option so I can scope out what’s going on in the entire room. This is one of my favorite moves in the lounge scene. I’d rather be the observer and see who’s doing what, than be the observed. If you want to publicize your presence, then go right ahead and ask to have your ass placed in the center of the action. This choice is all about preference and style, my brother. This is about rolling in and chilling out the way you please.
Now that you have a table reserved, and a few stylish friends locked and loaded, it’s time to talk about what you’re showing up wearing. It’s mid-summer, so I’m seeing your cool, faded jeans with the worn out bottoms over soft brown leather loafers without socks. Pop on white jeans (if you’re a 34 waist or smaller) and make an undeniably stylish entrance! Up top, I recommend an untucked, fitted long-sleeve shirt with the sleeves rolled up just below the elbow. Do not f*#k this up and wear a button down short sleeve shirt. If you must wear short sleeve button downs, they go to the office and that’s it. Remember what I said earlier about “utilizing my wisdom”.
Okay, so now that you have a plan, a reservation, and a few key selections from your closet picked out, we need to discuss what I call “the wingmen conundrum”. This can be a very sensitive topic. You need a wingman or two that you can count on to show up, who can hold their own, but not outshine you. They have to have style. They have to have swagger. They have to have a sense of sophistication. This means no drunks who are going to embarrass you. No hotheads who are going to get into a fight. And no dirtballs that can’t meet the dress code requirements. Remember, you’ve already told the nightlife manager your name, and you’re going to want to visit this joint again. My advice: invite a few dudes that look sharp, earn a nice living, and who you consider to be players. Cardinal rule of nightlife: hang out with players and be a player.
The next issue involves what I call “your tableside plan of action”. Translation: how are you going to order and who is going to pay when the bill comes? Just because you organized this jawn doesn’t mean you’re sporting the whole bill for the group, sport. I like to go online before I reach out to reserve my table and check the menu. If there’s bottle service, I identify what I want, and ask for it to be chilled in advance of my arrival. If the table can be set with your order before you arrive, you can make an entrance about a half hour after you asked everyone to meet you. If the venue doesn’t offer that, you show up on time with your drink list and fire off direction to your server at first contact. Here’s an example: “We’d like a bottle of Grey Goose and Taittinger Rosé chilled, along with tonic, orange juice, cherry’s, and lemon and lime slices. Please bring us lots of ice, 6 tumblers (for vodka drinks) and 6 champagne flutes”. This sh#t is fun to say and gets you recognized as an experienced baller. Seriously, though — say what you want, say it with respect and confidence, and place a neatly folded $20 in the hands of your server after you finish. Then sit back and watch the service standards rise before your eyes. Consider the 20 bucks a down payment for the night’s gratuity.
Later in the night, when you ask for the bill, discretely tell everyone what they owe. If the venue doesn’t offer bottle service, it’s wise to alert your guests to the fact that you’ll get the check at the end of the night and everyone can contribute. Go on to mention to the usual suspects (you know who they are – the cheapskates who like to slip out when the check comes) that if they cut out early you’d like them to pass you whatever they feel is accurate for their portion of the bill before they roll. You’re going to take it slightly on the chin when organizing table reservations at nightspots, but that’s the price you pay for being the big man in the Valley. You could do what you always do and be another dude at the bar, but what fun would that be? You’ve been doing that for how long now? Be a man. Spend the dough. Enjoy the benefits.
Now that we’ve talked through the strategies and mapped out the plan, it’s time to discuss the best part: holding court. Holding court at a hotspot is one of my favorite things in life. Without experience and/or a plan, a dozen things could go wrong. Poorly dressed wingman could spell disaster. Drunk or disorderly comrades could easily lead to early ejection. And unsophisticated invitees could ruin your reign as a serious V.I.P.
The following is a list of issues you need to manage once you’ve gotten the right people and products around you when holding court. Consider this the tableside ten commandments: Always have enough liquor at your table when offering the pretty babies across the way to join you; Make sure you have enough space to invite the honeys to your table. Lounges are meant for lounging, not squeezing in like a tight pair of skinny jeans; Use your eyes and hand signals to make contact with your server. I like holding one finger in the air, signifying that I need one thing, or making the drinking motion with my empty hand to get the server’s attention; Flirt with that hottie across the room with your eyes before going over and inviting her to join you for a drink; Be discreet when asking someone to join you unless you can afford to have all of her friends drink all of your alcohol; Groove smartly when your favorite beat comes on — never dance on the table, and never attract attention to yourself while dancing, even if you can move like Michael Jackson; Be a gentlemen at all times; Be a smart host who pours smart drinks. Pouring overly strong drinks will get your guests too drunk to function and cost you more in additional bottles; If someone at your table gets out of line or starts breaking things, discreetly introduce yourself to security and ask to have that person removed. That’s right, I recommend that you have your stupid-ass so-called friend ejected if he’s breaking sh#t; Be smart about getting home safely. Nobody wins if this cool night out ends with a D.U.I or car accident.
Lastly, always take good care of your server if you want to be taken care of the next time you roll in. Style guy always tips 20% or more. Consider that a smart investment in added value. I get considerably more than what I pay for when I visit my favorite haunts in Philly, N.Y., L.A. and wherever else my travels take me. The reason is simple. The servers, bartenders, managers and owners that I encounter can easily tell that I’m a pro who knows how to play their game. As a restaurant publicist in Philadelphia, I know the ins and outs of the business better than most. Trust me on this. Appearances matter just as much as backing those appearances up with a strong character. You can’t go wrong with the golden rule: Treat those that work in the hospitality industry the way you would want to be treated as an employee. Restaurant staffs talk about the good tipper on table 8 or the obnoxious drunk who just tore up the bathroom. Be “the man” and you’ll be treated like a star every time.
Have fun, playa! Enjoy your summer.