Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.
- Clarence Thomas
I love manners. I was raised to say please and thank you. Open doors. Offer your seat on the bus. Make good eye contact and give a firm hand shake.
There are rules to live by daily, but most easily forgotten in the party scene. Manners in nightlife?! Not exactly the first thing you think of. Alcohol, drugs, and hedonistic entitlement play a large part in the rudeness associated with going out in Los Angeles. Forget being rude to just cabbies and bartenders, I’ve seen some people be straight out rude to the talent!
If you are going to go out in this city and act a fool, you will be remembered as such. Like Mr. Thomas said above, good manners will get you further than any “good-on-paper” qualification you might have. However, this is not a guide on how to manipulate those around you to get ahead in status in the LA party scene (whatever that means - free booze I guess?).
What this guide and the #422 are really about is finding and participating in special music and nightlife experiences in LA. By following these few tips, I hope I can help you get the most out of your party experience. And maybe, along the way, it will help make the night a little nicer for the people who work so hard to give you that experience.
The #422 Guide to Party Etiquette.
1. Be Kind to the Front of House*
*but don’t be a kiss-ass
Look, this isn’t Vegas. You don’t need to possess the desperation of a girl in body-con dress, dying to get into XS. And I will tell you, front of house (the bouncers, ID-checkers, and list readers) can smell that a mile away. Some of them live for it, and enjoy watching you squirm. Point is, don’t let them, even if you actually ARE desperate. Be kind. Simple as that. These people are jaded from seeing coke-heads, models, and industry types walk all over them pretending they are somebody when they’re really not. And they are human, just like me and you; not demi-God gatekeepers! So treat them like any new person in your life - smile, start a conversation, be genuine. A lot of front of house will have their guard up, but kindness really is like dynamite to a brick wall; you’ll be surprised who will open up, and who will eventually open doors for you.
2. Don’t Sh*t Where You Eat; Tip Where You Eat
You want to make nice with a place that you plan to frequent? Tip, tip, tip. Not in an ostentatious, show-off and bribery kind of way. You are not buying people off. But good service deserves good tips, and that’s handsdown the #1 rule of the service industry, especially when they have to put up with your often inebriated ass. And you will be remembered for your generosity if this is repeated, and you will develop lasting nightlife relationships at your favorite places. BUT don’t go over the top and start doing favors, the sexy kind or otherwise. Sh*tting where you eat never gets you anywhere, especially in nightlife where it takes a bit longer to reveal someone’s true intentions. You want to come back to this place, right? Be classy - tip, don’t sh*t. Show your appreciation with the dollar (at first at least).
3. Learn Names & Remember Them
This seems simple, but it’s something that makes a world of difference. I’ve trained myself to be better with names or at least have a funny joke as a reason I’ve forgotten a name. Introduce yourself. Learn names of your favorite bouncers, bartenders, managers, security. But REMEMBER them. Some staff might be turned off by your forward approach, but as a very loud extrovert, in my experience it’s won more hearts than lost. You’d be impressed with how positively people respond to this. But don’t name-drop, because that is trashy. That is one way to get an eye-roll or a straight out rejection at the door. I don’t like to name-drop; in my opinion, it creates bad juju and just feels so insincere. So learn names, remember them, and the more you do, the better your relationship will be with anyone you keep running into in the party scene.
4. Be The Regular You’d Want to Meet
Remember how you hate that one bar because the regulars are smelly, creepy, or always a wreck? Yeah well, imagine that’s you. We’ve all been there, and I’ve definitely been kicked out of my fair share of places at 2 AM for less-than-stellar behavior. And I’ve learned that in order to keep enjoying nightlife in LA, especially as I get older, one HAS to be conscious of their presence. Some people still don’t learn this lesson well into their 40s (Venice bar regulars - I’m looking at you). As you become a regular somewhere, know your limits, know your appearance, know yourself. No one will respect you if you’re a hot mess, cussing out the help and peeing on the bar floor. And greet newbies. I’ve learned it’s an unwritten responsibility of the regular to cultivate community within an establishment. You’re a regular now, so keep recruiting good people like yourself. The staff and other regulars will appreciate it.
5. Good People Bring Good People
On top of recruiting newbies, continue with people you know. Got friends you know would love that bar, music venue, or club? Bring them. Good people bring good people. What that means is if you’re a good regular, you will be MUCH better off at any nightlife establishment if you also bring in others much like yourself. It’s good for business, makes you look good, and you’ve just introduced your best friends to something they will also love. For example, I’ve introduced many friends to their favorite craft beer spots, dive-clubs, and after-hours parties, all of which they’d never heard of until I’d become a regular there. You become a curator for good taste, so bring your like-minded friends. It’s a win-win, and in the end, you’re surrounded by people you love, and by staff who ALSO love the people you love.
That’s all I have for now. I’m still learning as I discover different facets to the LA nightlife and music scene, so keep an eye out for a part 2! But for now, enjoy this guide, and if there’s one thing to take away on proper party etiquette in LA? Be kind, be genuine, and be yourself. That never fails.