There comes a point – normally pretty early in your DJ career – when you realise you’re going out clubbing for professional reasons, not just for fun. Whether it’s to do some flyering, to hear other residents or out-of-town guest DJs, to press palms with promoters, or just to see where the crowd is, you are starting to treat it all like work and doing it more and more often.
Trouble is, hitting a handful of clubs on a regular basis can soon hit your pocket. So if you’re a superstar-yet-to-be-discovered, it helps to have a few tricks up your sleeve to help you avoid the cover charges and the queues, and to be treated like the VIP-in-waiting that you know you are!
From hard-won experience, then, here are our seven top tips for getting into clubs for free. Some are sensible, some less so. Some nearly always work, and some need a bit of luck. But they’ve all been used by us at some stage or other…
1. Know the doormen, cashier or a member of the bar staff – If one of your friends works there, it’s usually easy to get a free pass. So either persuade a mate to take some part-time work at the club you want to get in for free regularly to, or take the time to get to know the important people there. Doormen’s friends rarely pay to get into clubs – much to the chagrin of promoters
2. Get on the promoter’s guest list – Promoters are always looking for people to do little tasks for them in return for guest list freebies. Usually, just offering to do some flyering for them on the night should be enough. Standing on a busy street corner giving out flyers for the club night in question early doors for an hour earns your entry, and you get to talk to people about where they’re going that night as you hand them out – consider it market research before a free night out
3. Bring a group of people – Speak to the promoter or club manager in the week and mention there are ten of you coming and can you have a couple of freebies for the group. Often they’ll be happy to do this, and if you can negotiate a bit of discount too, your friends will be happy to save a bit, and you’ll get in for free
4. Get on the guest DJ’s list – All guest DJs have guest list allowance, and when playing in strange cities, many have nobody to put on their guestlist. Why not relieve them of one or two of those spare names? Just remember to help the DJ before you ask for a favour. Doing some obvious promotion of their guest appearance on Twitter or Facebook before messaging them directly to ask for a freebie is infinitely better than just getting in touch with them cold and demanding to be added to their list
5. Pretend you’ve already been in once – There are countless variations on this one. “I came out to use the ATM”, “I thought my girlfriend was in front of me when we left but it seems like she’s still in there”, “We’ve lost one of our friends – he music be still in there!” – anything to get them to let you in for five minutes. If it’s busy that’s normally the end of that and nobody will ever come looking for you
6. Get there really early! No doormen, no cover – A lot of venues that are bars/lounges that turn into clubs later on either don’t charge a cover early, or try and turf everyone out then re-admit them for cash, often quite half-heartedly. If you’re there before the cover charge kicks in, you can quite often avoid it totally – even if it means hiding in the bathroom at just the right moment!
7. “The box of lemons” – This is a secret weapon and I’ve never heard of it failing. It is brilliant for getting into sold-out, hyper-popular, big-ticket events. You basically waltz up to the door, bold as brass, with a box of lemons. “How’s it going? Must be busy if you’ve run out of lemons! Lucky we had a spare box for you guys…” you say, as you walk right in. The doormen will automatically assume you’re from a nearby bar doing a favour for the bar manager…
Are you a skilled fare dodger? What’s the most audacious method you’ve ever used or heard of to get into a club without playing ? Are you a promoter who’s had tricks pulled on him? Please, feel no shame and spill the beans in the comments…