Getting beyond the velvet rope

Broke college student syndrome affects most of Temple’s campus, but so does the need to get out and party after a hard week of classes. With wallets permanently running on empty, going out to a

Broke college student syndrome affects most of Temple’s campus, but so does the need to get out and party after a hard week of classes.

With wallets permanently running on empty, going out to a posh Center City or Old City bar requires etiquette.

Knowing the right people, social skills and how much to tip is a start, not to mention having a decent outfit and perhaps a certain degree of shallowness:

Use What Your Momma Gave You
If you want to go out in Center City or Old City, you need to look the part. No sneakers or Timberlands. No faded jeans or sweatpants.

Definitely no baseball caps. Throw a little makeup on. Wear a
nice button up. Tastefully show a little skin.

The “places to be” have dress codes and the better you look, the more appealing you become to doormen, bartenders and owners of these establishments. When you stand outside in line, you’re selling the place – and it’s smart to look good while doing so. A place with no dress code cannot sell $11 martinis.

And entering that establishment with $11 martinis and looking good makes people want to buy those martinis for you. Leah Kaithern, a 21-year-old college student from New Jersey, said that appearance is everything.

“It’s a matter of deciding you’re going to get free drinks,” Kaithern said. “You have to dress right, wear the right shoes and walk right.”

It Starts At The Door

The easiest way to get into a club or bar is to know the doorman.

Even when there’s a line a mile long and a $20 cover, this individual can save the day.

While everyone else shivers in their stilettos, those people who have an “in” with the door staff are sliding into the club or bar with a nod of the head. If you don’t know someone, find out who your friends know and go with them, kind of like
Shelly Perella does.

The Temple journalism major frequents Old City clubs because her roommate’s boyfriend works as a doorman at a club in the area.

“We never have to wait in line, we don’t have to pay a cover and we don’t have to pay for any drinks inside,” Perella said.

But maybe you and your friends don’t know the bouncer. So frequent a place. Introduce yourself to the staff and learn their names. Flirt shamelessly or slip them money. Make yourself a positive memory.

Being a regular is almost as good as being an actual friend.
Soon they’re greeting you like they’ve known you for years and
with enough charisma you’ll be jumping to the front of the line in no time.

No Room Required

Upscale hotel bars are one of the undiscovered treasures in Center City. Usually aimed at an upper-middle
class to wealthy audience, hotel bars can seem intimidating, but they are full of opportunities.

First, the dress code at the bar is usually casual. You’ll often find people just leaving weddings in gowns and tuxedos mingling with freshly checked-in business people in jeans and T-shirts and older guests in slippers looking for a nightcap. Hotels are where the no-strings-attached
drink was born. Sit down and look around.

Who is sitting alone? Talk to that person.

People who travel alone come to the bar for company. Striking up a conversation is as easy as one question: “Are you from Philadelphia?” Suddenly this new friend is buying you another
drink on a company card and telling you about the last time they were in Argentina.

“Talk a lot, have random conversations and flirt like there’s no tomorrow. Young, old [people] … it doesn’t matter,” said Sherrin Thomas, a 22-year-old Temple alumna.

Even the endearing, “I’m a young woman trying to make it in the city” story has gotten Thomas and a friend free drinks from a sympathetic rich couple at a hotel bar.

If you’re too nervous to talk to strangers, make friends with the bartenders. Hotels select employees that are particularly friendly to help promote their brand. Order a few drinks from a hotel bartender and you might get your third “on them.” If not, return to the same bar a few times.

Develop a friendly relationship with the bartender and you are destined to eventually establish a consistent drink hook-up.

Dont Be Stingy

Although you may be incredibly handsome or gleaming with beauty, if you don’t tip 20 percent or more, no one working at the establishments will be impressed. Perella explains that although she and her roommate get free drinks at Mad River in Old City, “In order to keep our status, we tip the bartender really well,” she said.

Thomas also leaves substantial gratuities to keep on his hook-ups good side. “When they see you tip well, they’re more likely to comp drinks or discount [your check].” If you want to be taken care of when it counts, make your relationship worth it to the bartender.

Drop The Gs for VIP

Many clubs and bars are perfectly happy to sell special treatment. For $100 you can buy yourself a year long membership at Pulse, a Center City after-hours bar and club.

With the membership, there’s no cover, no lines and doormen make you into a big deal. Free champagne on your birthday is also a nice perk. The membership can easily pay for itself after a few visits.There is also bottle service. Places such as Bleu Martini, 32 Degrees and Denim all offer
bottle service, but for a hefty price. You get a marked up bottle of liquor with all the fixings for a given number of friends to split. Your table is reserved along with receiving
VIP treatment from a server.

Sstarting out

Early on, start slow and pre-game before you go out. Display a certain degree of maturity and wait. Suddenly, people – particularly staff – will start to recognize you at the places you frequent. Thomas points out that it’s the upscale places that want your business, not your friendly neighborhood bar.

“Corny bars don’t take care of you,” he said. “Upscale bars and restaurants will take care of you to maintain clientele and secure your business.”

Make your business theirs this weekend – and you’ll be rolling deep in the VIP.

Jess Pritchard can be reached at

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