How To Get Into Exclusive Parties And Clubs Without An Invitation

How To Get Into Exclusive Parties And Clubs Without An Invitation

It might be fun trying to get into events you’re not invited to attend, but this isn’t the movies. Whether you’re trying to network with VIPs or just have a good time, getting into an exclusive nightclub or party all comes down to social engineering: the fine art of getting the results you need out of people one way or the other. Here’s how to do it.

We won’t judge you if you crash a party, but there are two major areas you have to address: preparation, or making sure you do your homework before you actually go, and execution, meaning the tricks you’ll use to gain entry and work the room once you arrive. Let’s look at each one individually.

Before You Leave: Do Your Homework

Getting into the most exclusive club or an embassy party isn’t an easy affair, and it’s even worse if you try to stroll off the street and talk your way in. If you’re serious, you’ll need to do a little legwork in advance to maximise your chances of getting in.

Get the Details: When, Where and How to Get In

First, learn as much as you can about the event you want to go to. When is it and how long does it run? Where will it be held? How do you get there, and how many entrances are there? Plan your approach. We’re not saying you need to put maps on the wall and things, but you should definitely know whether the event is named-invite only, invite with “plus-ones” or open to anyone who happens to know about the event.

Dress the Part

Once you understand where the place is, how arrivals are greeted and invitations are checked and where you should go to get in, the next thing you need to do is dress the part. If the event is tie-and-tails affair, you don’t want to show up in a business suit. No one’s going to bat an eye at someone in a suit and tie or dress and coat if the dress code is semi-formal or “sharp casual”. You’ll probably draw eyes if you show up in a tie at a casual affair, but even then not many. You will, however, stand out in a suit or gown at a trendy nightclub. If you’re unsure of the dress code, step up a level — there’s (usually) never harm in being overdressed for an event, as long as you don’t stand out because of it. Worst case you’re a little overdressed and you’ll have something to play on when you get in. Best case, you’re on the money or even sharper than the people around you.

There’s one exception to this rule though: exclusive nightclubs. If you walk up wearing a business suit, you don’t look like a rockstar, you look like you just came from the office. As Charlie Houpert explains in this piece about hacking the club scene, the key here is to dress like someone who doesn’t pay to get into clubs. Dress like a rockstar, or a gangster, with a hint of formality. You’ll look natural, and you won’t get slapped with table fees or bar minimums because you’re in a shirt and tie — or worse, you won’t get questioned at the door because you seem out of place. Making sure you match the dress code is essential to getting in without hassle.

When You Arrive: Confidence Is Key, but So Is Quick Thinking

When you get to the event you want to slip into (and try to arrive in style — walk up if you must, or have a car service drop you off at the door), you have a couple of options. If you did your homework, you should be able to at least get to the door of the club or party without issue. Now comes the difficult part — getting inside like you’re a natural. You may have to talk to a bouncer who has final say over who enters and who leaves, or maybe a valet with a clipboard checking names against an invite list. Here’s how to make sure you get past them.

Flex Your Social Engineering Muscles

Your first step is to pick the best point of entry. If there’s only one way into the affair, this is easy. If there are multiple doors or gates where guests are being received, you may want to pick the busiest one — putting a little time and backlog pressure on the person receiving guests can work in your favour if you’re trying to convince them you’re so-and-so’s plus-one, and they’re already inside, or that you don’t even need an invitation.

Of course, it can backfire if you’re not confident enough, so bringing confidence to the table is key. You don’t want to look like you’re trying to get in, you want to look like you belong there — and if you really want to be there, enough that you’re willing to sneak in, then channel that desire into suppressing your nervousness. Act natural, and walk like you know the place and you know what’s up. Here’s how Houpert describes it:

The doorman eyes you and your group suspiciously. He is looking for signs that you don’t belong. He is waiting for you to crack, to show your nervousness, to ask how much the cover is. But you don’t ask. You know that there is no cover for you.

So the doorman asks “Who are you here with?”

And you reply with a smile, “Oh, it’s me, Dave, Michelle, and Nicole.”

You say their names even if they have never been introduced to the doorman. You assume familiarity. The goal is to be viewed not as a customer, but as a human being, or better yet, a friend. Customers wait in line and pay. Friends walk right in for free.

Once you’ve gotten in and enjoyed your night (you did everything I said before, right?!) make a point to shake hands with the doorman on your way out. Tell him to have a great night. Crack a joke. Same goes for the bouncers.

Next time you come out, you’ll probably slap hands with the doorman and give a man hug. The door will be a breeze. Assume familiarity and it becomes real familiarity.

(Familiarity isn’t just for the doorman and bouncers, btw. Assume familiarity with EVERYONE in life. Act friendly and surprisingly awesome things will come your way.)

Seriously: This works. This works whether there’s a restricted guestlist, and it works when it’s a club and the doorman or bouncer has the final call as to who goes in and who stays out in the cold. Remember, social engineering isn’t just about getting what you need from people or manipulating them — it’s about getting the right people on your side, winning them over so they do things they wouldn’t normally do because it’s you, after all, and you’re good people.

Don’t be Aggressive, and Have a Backup Plan

If you get rebuffed, press, but don’t be aggressive. As we’ve mentioned before, there’s a huge difference between being aggressive and being assertive, and you want to come off like you’re disappointed that the person you’re talking to doesn’t understand. If you come off self-entitled, you’ll just turn the doorman or bouncer against you. Try to salvage the situation (after all, you may see them again if you try another time) and part with a smile.

The reason we suggested you take the busy entrance first is because word will travel slower to the lighter entrances that you tried to get in than the other way around. Have a backup plan if you need to try more than once. If you have better luck or a stronger rapport at another entrance or with another doorman, let them know you ran into a little trouble with one of the others. Don’t get anyone in trouble, just let them know it was rough. A little empathy goes a long way, and you’ll earn a future ally. When you leave later, see if you can go out the way you were denied entry in — don’t rub it in to the doorman who initially rejected you, but smile and wish them a good night. The goal is to make them doubt their decision to rebuff you, not get revenge. That way, the next time they see you, they’re more willing to talk.

If you get the feeling you’re going to have a difficult time no matter where you try to walk in, put your head up high and go for it. If you’re stopped, be courteous but curt, and explain you’re in a hurry and need to meet someone before they leave for the evening. Attitude counts for a lot. Don’t cross the line into condescension. Arriving like someone who owns the joint and is there for a reason will preemptively cut off many lines of questioning and let you pass.

Work the Room

Once you’re inside, your work isn’t done. This is where your homework and your quick thinking come into play. When we talked about how to convince someone you work in their building, we told you to be ready for questioning. The same is true at a club or social event. If you’re in a noisy nightclub, that’s one thing — but if you’re in a party where you plan to network with other people, you should be ready to talk with everyone there on their level.

Introduce yourself to people you want to meet when the time is right, or chat up people who are alone, waiting for a drink at the bar, in line at the buffet, whatever works. It doesn’t take much, and only a few minutes of talking will do before you can go on to something else (or take a breather) and let that person go about their business too. It’s ok to turn that small talk into a real conversation if you have the opportunity, but personally, I love ordering a drink at a bar and striking up a little chat with someone nearby — the time required for me to get my drink (or them to get theirs and move on) is usually enough to exchange names, a few pleasantries and make a good impression.

Neville Medhora explains in this fantastic guide to crashing a party how he managed to get along with people he had never met before and work a room. The key is being confident enough to break the ice, keep something in your back pocket to talk about, and give people plenty of opportunities to talk to you about their interests and passions. Be genuine, remember the people around you are all human, and you can get along in any environment without raising eyebrows or making people wonder whether you “belong” there.

Strategically Make Your Exit

When it’s time for you to head out, make sure to do another pass of the room and bid everyone you connected with a fond farewell. Ideally, if your goal was to network, you’ve traded business cards and some chitchat. If you wanted to meet people in a club, presumably you have a few hands to shake. If it’s a private club, ideally you’ve connected a few promoters who can get you in next time. Make sure to thank your host (if you’re at a private affair) for a wonderful evening. Even if they have absolutely no idea who you are, they will once you thank them.

Do the same with the doorman or the bouncer who let you in (and, like we mentioned, the bouncer who didn’t). Crack a joke, tell them to take care and to have a good night. The more final impressions you can make — especially with a bright and genuine smile — the easier time you’ll have coming back next time. If you traded contact information with others at the party, you may not need these tricks again — next time you’ll have a genuine invitation.

This post is part of our Evil Week series at Lifehacker, where we look at the dark side of getting things done. Knowing evil means knowing how to beat it, so you can use your sinister powers for good. Want more? Check out our evil week tag page.

Photos by Everett Collection (Shutterstock), Everett Collection (Shutterstock), Everett Collection (Shutterstock), Everett Collection (Shutterstock), Everett Collection (Shutterstock), Everett Collection (Shutterstock), Everett Collection (Shutterstock).


  • Seriously: This works. This works whether there’s a restricted guestlist, and it works when it’s a club and the doorman or bouncer has the final call as to who goes in and who stays out in the cold.

    Seriously, this doesn’t. Not at a decent event or reception. It is an exclusive event for a reason.
    There is a vast difference between the meathead on the door of a nightclub, and professional venue protection. This is the guide to get past those meatheads.

    After some years of blocking doorways, the end rule is this – my job (was) to stop undesirables getting in.
    If there is a list, and you’re not on it, then you’d best be doing some Mission Impossible gymnastics, because you’re not getting in through the door.
    Want to chat and empathise with me ? Fine, do it later pal, I’m, working right now. Keep distracting me, and the secondary bouncer steps in and politely tells you to fuck off.

    See that earpiece the bouncer is wearing ? He can call the group leader at any time, and confirm if you’re supposed to be there, so if you start making a big fuss over ‘do-you-know-who-I-am?”, he is going to know within a minute or so whether you are VIP, owner or whatever you claim to be.

    Curt attitudes don’t count for shit, and if you are seen inside after denied entry a first time -you’re going to be politely asked to account for yourself or be escorted out pdq.

    Svelte girls in tight outfits with a mile wide smile and the “my friend is in there with my handbag” don’t slide on by either.
    No one, not even the host, cares if you are delayed at the point of entry whilst your identity is verified, but everyone minds if some arsehole starts ruining their fun.
    This is why venue protection exists.

  • This post is right on.

    I’ve gotten no’s (with extremely detailed explanations as to why the answer was no). Spent several weeks just WALKING BY the place and engaging the bouncer in occasional conversation. Eventually, “Hey, there’s a good band upstairs tonight. If you’ve got some time and want to go take a look…” (tilts head toward door). 🙂 Never had a problem getting in after that. 😉

    Another time, “Hey, we’ve got a bunch of old posters we’re getting rid of. Want to see if you want any of them?” (at least a month after I’d ASKED for a poster at the end of the night, since I knew they were taking them down anyway, and was told no.)

    1. Convince ONE person you belong there for any reason at all, and let others see you interacting with them, and you’re in (and you get to see others start wondering with a bit of is-this-someone-I-should-know-and-why-don’t-I-know-them angst, “Who is that chick?”).

    2. Be friendly, and as the article says, act like you’re already on the inside AND like you know they know that too.

    Oh, and it’s not just a clubbing hack. Any time there’s something you think people in the inner circle have access to, that you don’t have access to, you can apply similar strategies.

  • This sort of thing does work.
    It reminds me of two years ago- the last day of the Alexander McQueen exhibition at the MET in New York. My friend and I had heard about it the night before from a minor celeb we met and made friends with on the plane from LA. We dressed in our normal style, which is flamboyant and fancy, and went down there to see the show.
    It wasn’t exclusive by any means, but the thing was that the line was simply gigantic- 3 or four people across, two lines stretching about 70 meters down the street on either side of the entrance and then snaking all the way through the entire building, up and down stairways, down hallways and corridors, back and forth, like an endoscope through someone’s intestines (the MET is a very, very large building too). Then you had to pay for the pricey tickets…

    My friend and I breezed passed the line-sheep out the front, paid the minimal donation required for a normal “pass”, then went up to the first guardian of the velvet rope and told him in a breezy, preoccupied, slightly hassled tone, about our minor celeb friend who we had to meet inside and how we were late. The poor, confused usher melted before us and let us in, so we walked quickly past the glacially moving line of stifled people, and basically kept going past that same gigantic line the same way, on and on as we followed it snaking all through the building- telling the same story to all the other ushers at the velvet rope blocked off sections at cross-corridor areas. We saw the exhibition and it was great, saved ourselves a bit of money and about 3+ hours line waiting time. All it took was dressing interestingly, distracted arrogance, and a name drop.

    Later, outside in the street a uniformed chauffeur stopped us to ask if we were famous- part of a band or celeb artists, he wanted to know who we were. He said he was used to meeting those types all the time in his work and we had that look.

    So yeah, that was a good first day in New York and a good day in general. 🙂
    Adopt a persona, look the part, and that’ll get you places.

    • I think the biggest thing here is how well this all works in America, and how in Australia there’s really stuff all chance of this type of thing working without a lot of legwork.

      • True. The US has this weird culture where people defer to celebs… sort of like how royalty used to be treated in Europe, except anyone can be a celeb. Australia doesn’t have that so much, which is great in a lot of ways, and sad in others.

      • There was one method I saw that had a reasonable chance of working, and I think I saw it here on LH not too long ago.
        Some guy in London would would rock up with a bag full of records and some headphones, pretending to be the entertainment for the evening.
        Most bouncers won’t know DJ Shadow from DJ SquirrelNuts, so all the guy had to do was say he was the DJ that was plastered all over the venue billing.

  • As someone who worked at the casino in Perth, NONE of these things would work. People attempting to get me to let them into rooms constantly. You aren’t on my list and you don’t have an invite, you aren’t getting in. My boss specifically stated he would rather I hold back a dozen A-List celebs and check with him rather than let a single person in who was not meant to be there.

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