London is the city of opportunity. With a population of over eight million, there are plenty of chances to encounter and experience the diversity of its people, the influx of cultures and the multiplicity of its exciting destinations. However, people often take this metropolis for granted or fall into the thumb-twiddling cycle of working life; then there are those who weren’t born and bred in London and are unaware of the opportunities awaiting those that choose to grasp it. In a city thriving with university students and young people looking for a good time without dipping (too much) into funds they don’t own, hunting for discounts, deals and cheap eateries become second nature. When fatigue kicks in from all the ups and downs of bargain hunting, people settle for a mediocre night in with Netflix. But how about a night out that was completely free? A night out that includes a free dinner before you “turn up” and “turn down for what?” A free night out (excluding transport fares, obviously) might sound too good to be true – but if you know how to go about it, this concept is not a myth. It might be common knowledge that doors open a little easier for a London girl than it does for men - who must pry doors open with their wallet rather than a little black dress and a smile. But it is possible for both men and women to gain access to clubs, and drink in equal measure, for free. This is a candid guide on how to do it.
Firstly, both guys and girls need a promoter if they stand any chance of getting into a club for free. Don’t panic. London promoters are everywhere. If you don’t know one, I’ll bet you five pounds that your friend knows one. Otherwise, check social media. Promoters tend to follow, befriend and message girls on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. So, don’t be alarmed if someone who calls himself a promoter invites you to be on his guest list. However, don’t meet this person anywhere other than the club-venue that you have verified as non-fictitious on Google - and don't forget to arrive with your pals. A promoter for one is a promoter for all! They try to get as many people as they can under their wings and into a club. This is because they are paid depending on the number of people they bring in for the evening. Sure, they get paid, but you get in free of charge.
Girls. Clubs need you to improve and maintain an image: that it is the hottest place to party, and therefore, that it has the hottest girls to party with. This is intended to reel in the men and the celebrities that spend big bucks buying tables, drinks and – dare I say it – female attention. Consequently, appearance is the most fundamental part of gaining free entry. Most clubs expect your hair, (beat) face and outfit to be on point if you're serious about entry.
Guys. The appearance rule also applies to you. Make sure your hair and facial hair isn't scruffy. When in doubt, wear a shirt. You absolutely must not be in any other footwear apart from smart shoes. Nothing that even remotely resembles a pair of trainers allows you into a Mayfair club. Don’t even risk it. Don’t be the guy that makes the long journey out, only to make the long journey back home to have a one-person pity party.
Girls. Don’t step out of your house without wearing a pair of heels! It doesn’t need to be a pair that will have you in blisters – throbbing to remind you of the pair of cosy slippers waiting for you at home; they can be comfortable heels that give you some height instead of a death wish.
Guys. You may or may not know that it is not enough to say a promoter’s name at the door to make it open with no sterling strings attached. Your best chance of admission is being surrounded by girls. Literally. Usually, the odds are that for every 6 females, one male is okay to go in with them for free. It turns out that being friend-zoned by multiple girls has its perks. However, if you’re not fussed enough to accumulate that many women just so you can get in for free, why not ask the promoter if it’s going to be a busy night before you set off? Once you've arrived, a good promoter would try to group his guests in a way that increases everyone’s chance of being let in without paying. Listen to them. It’s not about beating the queue and getting in before everyone else does. You might have to wait until things pick up and the girls show up before you head in with the rest of the freeloaders. Even if you’re momentarily separated from your squad during this process you can always regroup once you’re inside.
Girls. If you’ve got a model’s height and figure but no interest in modelling, I suggest using your genetics to your advantage here at least. Clubs live for models. They can’t get enough of them. Models know this and they use this information to their advantage. If you look like a model, you can too.
Guys. Not to sound like a broken record, but if you’re a model and didn’t realise the perks of being one in London, hopefully, this eases you out of your ignorance. Tell your promoter you’re a model. Your promoter will tell the admission host of your status. The rest is history.
Girls. Don’t bare all. Clubs turn girls away if they are wearing something that’s too revealing. No, nipple covers don’t count as an item of clothing.
Guys. Don’t be (or don't appear to be) too drunk to function while you’re waiting to get in. This is a big no, and the bouncers will be happy you’ve given them something to do as they steer you away from the door and unto the street. This applies to women too, but the bouncers tend to be less aggressive as they remove you from the premises.
Girls. This is probably the saddest part about getting into a prestigious London club without payment; but you should bear this in mind anyway. It is usually best if the group you have gathered on a busy night is ethnically diverse. A big group of white women is more likely to get in for free than a big group of black women. Does the protest outside DSTRKT ring any bells?
Girls. Ask your promoter if there are any free dinners available for you and your girlfriends; or watch out for a message alerting you of a free dinner event before the main event on the dance-floor kicks off. Many clubs host dinners (just) for the ladies.These prequel dinners are held before the club doors open to the wider public. Going to this dinner gives you a smooth and - most importantly - free transition into the club for you and the friends that have dined with you. The only down-side is being present unfashionably earlier than most: waiting for the music to become danceable; waiting for the crowd to liven up.
Guys. Always take at least twenty-pounds with you when you go out in Central London. Though getting in free is a definite possibility, it is still (unfortunately) not guaranteed.
Girls. Be confident in yourself enough to never spend a dime getting into a club. If one doesn’t let you in for free, there will always be another one that will. Arrive in good time, and if you must, leave in good time to get into a less self-entitled place. There are lots of places in close vicinity in Central London - Project, Libertine, Cirque le Soir and Maddox for example.
Finally – guys and girls – you are always more capable of getting into a club for free when you arrive before eleven. Or, at least, be in the queue before eleven! Most promoters tell you to get there by half ten, because they know things get ugly quickly if you show up past twelve. To clarify, you might be refused entry if you show up too late – regardless of the crisp twenty-pound note you possess. They usually blame this on capacity. However, this restriction is often non-applicable to models. How predictable.
Once again, this is an honest rendition of what a distinguished London club expects of you, and what you should expect of such renown venues. You may not be the kind of person willing to go clubbing, but there are events promoters inform you about that don’t involve clubbing in the typical sense. To exemplify - brunches, sports events, and rooftop parties. For those that don’t drink, get in free and party simply in the name of friendship!
What you choose to do with this information is up to you: whether you disapprove, disregard or take advantage of this 'how to' guide, what is most important is having the freedom to make an informed decision about the joys, perils and conditions of an inexpensive night out!