Ladies, It’s Time We Start Paying Off The Bouncer


Until now, I thought I had two options when approaching a crowded bar. I could either a) wait in line, or b) very occasionally cut the line because I am a female and sometimes that is how the cookie crumbles. I suppose there’s always been option c: leave the crowded bar. But let’s say for sake of the argument that something has possessed me to actually want to enter a bar with a ridiculously long line.

Last weekend, this was precisely my understanding of how life works. As I strutted up to a popular LA bar with my friend Jen and a few of her co-workers with whom I was unfortunately acquainted, we audibly groaned when we spotted an enormous line half way down the block.

We’d be waiting for at least an hour.

Upon seeing the line, you best believe I was incredibly close to turning on my high heels and walking my tipsy ass home, but the boogie bug had already taken hold and the only cure was some serious dance floor shredding. Begrudgingly we walked to the back of the line.

I am on the record saying I am a normal 8, which translates to a model 4, so at a bar like this (Instagram models aplenty) the bouncer would not be ushering us through the front entrance any time soon. We would certainly be waiting in line like every other girl in Hollywood, and we knew it.

“I wish Brad was with us” said Jen’s colleague Addie. “He’d totally slip the bouncer a $50.”

Aside from potentially damaging my brain from rolling my eyes so far back in my head, I did see her point. The bouncers in LA make half their money from a robust front-door side hustle. I’ve watched quite a few respectable men slip bouncers egregiously large bills in a desperate attempt to gain access to whatever strobe light addled bar their buddies chose to impress their latest conquest. If you know the right price, gentlemen of all kinds can buy their way to the front of any line they please, their girlfriends trailing behind like little yellow ducklings.

“Try to call him!!” screeched Addie’s friend Steph. “Maybe he’ll come get us!”

As Addie attempted to get a hold of her boyfriend I looked to the front of the line then over to Jen. Sure, the bouncer was big, but he certainly didn’t seem evil. He did have a very large pony tail and a semi-permanent snarl on his face, but the Pinot I had pre-gamed with made me real convinced his aesthetic was “simply adorable.” At least that’s what I assured Jen when I grabbed her hand, ditched the co-workers, and walked straight up to the big guy.

“What the fuck are we doing?” Jen asked. I ignored her and grabbed a (slightly crumpled) bill from my jacket pocket.

“Hi” I said to the bouncer, extending my hand before he had time to react. He grabbed it instinctively, I think probably out of pity, and immediately looked confused when he felt the money in my palm. I gripped tighter, not because I felt authoritative (I was scared of this man) but because I didn’t want him to squirm away and send us back to where we came from.

“We have some friends in there. Can we go meet them?”

Jen smiled and nodded behind me. “They just went in!” she added. I can always count on Jen to lie for the cause.

We waited awkwardly as a girl behind us whined “Um excuse me, are you cutting?”

“Right this way, ladies,” said the bouncer, granting us access before he stopped whiny girl at the door.

“Not you honey” I heard him say as Jen and I disappeared into ’90s beats and colored strobe lights.

And just like that, we were in. “How much did you give him?!” yelled Jen. I broke out laughing, weaving through exposed legs and pastel button ups. “A ten dollar bill!” I shouted.

The whole night I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d stumbled onto something ground breaking. Girls just don’t try to pay off bouncers. For whatever reason, regardless of the fantastically more impactful progress we have made, bouncer etiquette was somehow overlooked in our quest for equality. That is, until now.

I have since tried this method out three more times and suggested it to a dozen friends. While most chicken out, the brave ones have also been overwhelmingly victorious. Together we have compiled 4 humble tips, in case you too want to start taking control of your bar-line destiny.

1.) Approach the bouncer with confidence, otherwise he’ll read your play from a mile away. Strut your way up the sidewalk as if you frequent the place regularly, so regularly that you’re just stopping at the door as a formality.

2.) Grip his hand with the firmness. This is key, as the bouncer cannot catch a glimpse of the amount of the bill, otherwise he will either laugh in your face and or say “what is this?” which are both less than ideal responses. Let him assume you just slipped him a hundo, by the end of the night he’ll be so flush with cash he either won’t remember or won’t care that you actually slipped him two 5’s and a dominoes coupon.

3.) You cannot approach the bouncer with more than one additional companion. A flock of girls approaching the bouncer screams desperation, and you my friend, are not desperate. You are strategic.

4.) Capitalize on the shock factor. The initial shock that a lady is trying to slip him some cheddar drug deal style will last for approximately 30-45 seconds. It is in this time that you best state your intentions or the window may close. Make it short, make it sweet, and whatever you do, don’t look afraid.

So ladies, if you’re out this weekend and find yourself at the tail end of a ridiculous bar line, do as the boys do – pay off the bouncer. Only, you know, follow the above advice and do it better.

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Life is messy, let's get dirty.

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