On The List (With Melissa Rich): How To Get Into Any Party, Anywhere, Anytime


On The List (With Melissa Rich): How To Get Into Any Party, Anywhere, Anytime

Tight door? No problem.

Welcome to On The List, NYLON’s column with comedian Melissa Rich, here to illuminate the state of nightlife, one party at a time.

“Show me your LinkedIn!” demands a man carrying a box of wristbands in a moment of absolute frenzy. This is not something I would ever expect to hear at the door of a party, but when you’re trying to get into one of Art Basel’s hottest events, nothing is off the table.

When attempting entrance to a tight door, I reach a flow state. I have the focus of an Olympic gymnast before nailing a formerly impossible routine. I’m filled with the determination of Jennifer Lopez in Enough. However, I always remain calm. Being anything but will get you nowhere besides filmed and on the internet. In a perfect world, you’re on the list, know the door person, and are chaperoned to the front with your dignity intact, but sometimes it takes finesse — especially when you make the fatal mistake of not getting your wristband before the party.

The first thing I do in a situation like this is find “The Guy,” which is a gender-neutral term for someone on the inside, usually security or a PR person running the door. In this case, “The Guy” was named Gus. During our wait after Gus got on his headset, we witnessed many examples of how not to get into a party. There was force and bad lies like, “I’m just trying to take a walk on the beach!” right in front of a beachfront party. Eventually, another “Guy” gave us the terrible news that there were no more wristbands. But then I spotted an absolute gift from the nightlife universe: a man carrying a clear plastic box of wristbands. “I write for NYLON!” I pleaded. He asked to see my LinkedIn. I had not opened my LinkedIn app in two years and I’m shocked that I had updated, accurate information. He was barely convinced. I pulled up my column, pay stubs, anything I could think of, until he wordlessly handed me a wristband. “And one for my photographer…?”

It’s stressful, but there’s much to learn from situations like this — and trust me, I’ve experienced a lot. Ahead, find practically fool-proof tips for getting into the party when the door is extra tight.

Melissa Rich smoking a celebratory cigar after negotiating entrance at the Art Basel edition of NYLON House.Matt Stejbach

Have Delusional Patience

Silence is often your ultimate weapon. Remaining quietly patient is a relief for someone doing a job where everyone is anxious and set on annoying them. Carry an energy that says, “Look at them trying to get in … I’m different!” even though you’re exactly the same. Be respectful! Whether you’re listed and supposed to be there or not, act as though it’s only a short matter of time until you’re rightfully inside. Once I was in a very long line for my favorite pop star’s after party where I was absolutely not listed. People were getting turned away and I had a slim chance of getting in. My friend tried to come get me but the door person wouldn’t budge. By the time I got to the front, they not only didn’t check the list, but apologized to me for the wait. I forgave them.

Don’t Make a Scene

“The last time you got f*cked was by genetics!” proclaimed iconic New York doorperson Markus Kelle outside the Interview x Emporio Armani party last Fashion Week. In the viral video, a woman demanded entrance to the at-capacity party and was shut down harder than a malfunctioning MacBook. This should be your absolute worst nightmare. Never make a scene! You will likely encounter everyone around you another time in the nightlife community. Why be a dick?

Show Up Prepared

Turn a look. Wear something that makes you feel like they should be so lucky to let you in the door. Make sure it’s authentic and isn’t just what everyone is wearing at the moment. Actor and NYC doorman Fabrizio Brienza, who you’ve seen lifting the velvet rope at Paul’s Casablanca, looks at it like a casting director. “I see all these characters during the course of the night,” he says, “It’s like I’m casting a movie and I want to see variety. That’s how you make a good party.”

Using Names The Right Way

Of course, uttering the right name can mean immediate clearance. However, name dropping someone you don’t actually know can get you completely chopped. There are countless stories of people telling lies of knowing the owner or a celebrity inside. Many times you will be asked to prove it, so have a plan!

Persistence: Knowing When To Walk Away (And When To Come Back)

I was at Glastonbury last summer and had a crazy time getting into the afters. We’d get to the front and then suddenly 10 security people would clear the door. Then it would happen again. It was so trippy! I chatted with the doorman for an extended amount of time. I explained I was from New York and simply had to be inside. He told us to come back in an hour. When we came back five minutes later, he pointed to a side entrance and signaled us in. Is this the best example? Probably not, but giving the situation room to breathe is often a good move.

“We Just Wanna Party”

One of my favorite nightlife anecdotes is a good friend getting into the legendary Beatrice Inn for the first time. She was young, new to the city, and pulled up to the hottest club with nothing but sincerity and fun energy. “What are you here for tonight?” questioned the bouncer. “We just wanna party,” she replied. He laughed and let her in. She had entry for life.