If You Aren’t In, You Might Get Left Out!

Bars, night clubs, and dance clubs are popular places for people to get together with their friends at night. A bar is a place for drinking, talking to your friends, and possibly watching your favorite team on a big-screen TV. Night clubs are similar, but usually have live entertainment, like a band (musical group) or a DJ (disc jockey, someone who plays CDs), and a dance floor. Dance clubs are night clubs especially for dancing.

When you arrive at a popular bar or night club, you’ll often find a long line of people waiting to get in … and a bouncer.

A bouncer is a security guard (someone who protects a building or something valuable). He’s responsible for making sure the waiting people don’t cause problems and to decide who gets in and who doesn’t. That’s what this blog post is about: how does a bouncer decide who gets in and who doesn’t?

If you’re waiting in a long line at a concert or some other event, you assume (believe it is true) that the people at the front of the line (closest to the door or entrance) will get in first. Hopefully the line will move quickly, and you’ll be able to get in, too. At popular bars and night clubs, you might be surprised to learn that the people at the front of the line don’t always get in first.

Lauren Rivera is a sociologist, a scientist who studies how groups of people act. She was curious how bouncers decided who to let into a club or bar, so she got a job in a New York night club and became friends with the bouncers.

Rivera says that “bouncers are status (importance in society) judges (someone who gives an opinion).” In other words, bouncers decide who is important enough to be allowed into the club or bar. Usually they have to make these decisions with very little information about the people, so Rivera asked them how they did it.

The bouncers told Rivera that they look first for people who will enhance (add to) the image (reputation) of the club. Secondly, they look for people who will probably spend a lot of money.

The bouncers said that if you really want to get into a popular club, one thing will help you more than anything else – your social network. Social networks are the people you know and the people who know you. If the bouncers recognize you, and you are someone famous, you get in. And if you are connected to (have a relationship with) someone famous, you get in. They bouncers also told Rivera that you have a better chance of getting in if you are white (not dark-skinned) or if you are an attractive woman.

Rivera discovered one thing that might surprise some people: bouncers look down on (don’t appreciate) people who try to bribe them (try to give them money to influence their decision).

Did you figure out what the title of this post means? The title is a message to anyone who is thinking about going to a night club or bar controlled by a bouncer: if you aren’t in (fashionable, connected, attractive), you’ll be left out (not allowed to go in or participate).

I hope you get in!

~ Warren Ediger – English tutor and coach, creator of www.successfulenglish.com where you’ll find something new every week to help you improve your English.

Photo: Hans-Petter Fjeld (CC-BY-SA)

This entry was posted in Life in the United States. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to If You Aren’t In, You Might Get Left Out!

  1. Edoardo says:

    The fact that if you are white you’ll have more chance to get in, isn’it quite racist?
    It’s only my opinion, take care!!!

  2. Alvaro says:

    I have already seen that thing happening in lots of movies since I’ve never been in U.S. I haven’t experienced anything like this. Fortunatelly here in Brazil, at least down the south where I live there’s no such a thing. You’ll get it if you buy the ticket in advance and just that and just if the place is very popular or the show is so long expexted. I really like U.S. culture, but there are some things like that wich make the country a little less atractive for a trip. Anyway, all places have their good and bad points, but this race issue is pretty sad nowadays as it was in the past.

  3. Wilson says:


    Well done. Amazing article.
    I´ve been reading your articles since april this year and I loved all of them. it helps me a lot.
    So, I wanna make a point about this article “If you aren´t in, you might get left out”.
    From my point of view judge people by the color of their skin is totally silliness.

  4. emiliano says:

    Yes I know this is the usual way of doing at places of this tenor in Usa, Spain and I think at a lot of countries, but I don´t like it absolutely. In fact I have never been in a place that has a bouncer having to wait to be allowed my entering and I hope not to be ever in all my life.
    Everybody may tell me that is necessary to select wich kind of people are entering to avoid problems, fights and ….bla, bla, bla., but I don´t believe a single word of that staff, just for the reasons you are giving us.
    All these kinds of things disgust me such a lot, the way of clasifing people as they were choosing things? or animals? only searching for their own interest?. No thank you.
    I am not an interesting person, no contacts, no money, no social network, so I don´t take any trouble to go such places.
    Sorry, but I´m not interested to be chosen among other people, beside I am against any kind of discrimination and I have not any interest in contributing with my actitude to these kind of things.

    Thank you Warren, I think this is a great topic to discuss, also I could see you have the same places and bouncers than here, not very agreeable to me as it has been evident.

  5. Warren Ediger says:

    Hi, all! Thanks for your comments.

    I want to be sure that everyone knows that I believe in treating everyone equally. I am especially offended by racial or sexual discrimination (like not choosing dark-skinned people or choosing only attractive women). I do think it’s an interesting topic, and one that needs to be discussed. And, of course, there’s some good vocabulary in there, too!


  6. Kuong Do says:

    I agree with Emiliano.

  7. Alex says:

    It is a so special culture in U.S.

  8. Peter says:

    I go clubing like every weekened
    never feel that I left out
    I mingel with people
    sometimes we throw birthday party in clubs
    we get boots ,
    it costs alot but worth the money
    we get hammared sometimes
    bouncers are a bunch of well-built bulky people
    some of them are huge
    u don’t wanna argue with them
    while waiting in lines ,sometimes,I wish I were a girl
    they get to go in with a small charming ,smily chat
    but ,poor guys that even a big smile don’t get them anywhere:)
    I m telling you ,it sucks over winter time

  9. Rezaul Karim says:

    Actually, we adore beauty and when an attractive women come before us we try to respect their beauty by giving preference to them. In our country there is a saying “ladies first”.

    -Rezaul Karim.

  10. Yaroslav says:

    Thank you so much from Russia.

    It’s truly an interesting story. And it also surprised me at this racial discrimination that is still exists and which America has been trying to get rid of for years

  11. Hilario says:

    Dear eslpod friends,

    It´s more than obvious what “to be in” means for, not for bouncers but for club´s owners, people which potentially are having a lot of money to spend in.
    Discrimination against people out of the money´s standard or using pretty women as a bait should be banned any way, you get the ticket you can´t be left out.

    Black and other several color skinned people and perfectly ugly/fat women will probably allowed in with no problem if they are showing some external wealthy signs, they become connected, attractive … and even fashionable.


  12. emiliano says:

    Dear Warren, as you I think this is an interesting topic everywhere, even here in Spain up to day it is in the news as two bouncers are having a trial by murdered a boy last year in Madrid and another in Barcelona two o three years ago.
    Spain is the great tourist spot of Europe, Ibiza, Mallorca, Marbella, Barcelona, Costa Brava, and so on.
    Lots of people are coming from outside to have fun, music, dance, alcohol, everything.
    Our young and not so young are doing the same every night.
    Yes, it´s a prosperous business and everyone wants to earn as much money as possible.
    There are thousand of sites, evey one with it´s own rules and people to be selected.
    So It seems necessary to have these bouncers at the door of the sites to choose the people allowed to get in, and all kind of problems begun with the treatment given by them to people ouside waiting to be admited.
    Here not latinos, here not blacks, here not spaniards, here not people dressed this way or this other, here not unknown people, here “I don´t like
    your face”, here you can´t pass because I don´t want or I don´t like you…….and so on.
    Thousands of Latinos and africans were beating by them everywhere if they wanted to be admitted. In fact one or two were killed in Barcelona by these bouncers.
    Another boy was killed in Madrid last summer by these men, and several were beating every night.
    So it was necessary to change the law and create a test for these bouncers that they need to pass if they wanted to be at the doors and get the jobs.

    My opinion?.
    Nothing has changed, people are being selected the same way, we know that because we have some friends who go these places and also we may listen to the daily news.
    Yes, I know it´s a difficult subject and everyone has their own opinion and reasons to have these bouncers at the doors. Fights, drugs, drinks,
    fuss,……….business, money, tourist interest….local prestige, high level feast spot (you may think what you want).
    Thank you very much Warren, of course this is a good topic to propose here and I am very glad that you did it, also it´s evident that doing that has nothing to do with our way of thinking, yours is clear an honest to me always, that´s not necessary to add.

  13. Fernanda says:

    Thats a very pollemic subject! I dont used to get out to this kind of entertainment, but i have heard about this, and sorry Alvaro, but this is a news from Brazil. I live in sao paulo and here this kind of “thing” (race issue) happens. My friends from school about ten years ago told me about such kind of behavior.
    I deffinitly thinks that this fact is more bigger than appears! Here, in sao paulo, we have a lot of malls and if you goes to one in a specifically region (zones south, north, west or east you all going to found out people looking strange to how you are dressing; if you are not at your class mall. the bouncers are a class of professionals that show clearly and anormaly some under behaviors in our society.

  14. gregorex says:

    Still no comment’s section in podcasts 🙁
    I’m just at this moment watching “High Anxiety” on Film4. Brilliant parody of Hitchcock’s movies 😀
    PS. I don’t know why Google dictionary says that the word “movies” is wrongly spelled 🙁

  15. Hans-Petter Fjeld says:

    First of, thanks for using my picture as an illustration, and crediting it in absolutely correct fashion.

    This topic is interesting too me because I used to work as a bouncer in Oslo, Norway, while finishing my education. The guy on the photo was a colleague of mine. I believe we have such “in”-places in Oslo, that is described here, its just that I have never worked at one, or tried to get in at one. I think its a shame that people are so desperate for recognition that they put a lot of effort into being socially accepted in a certain crowds. I wonder if it might be the symptom that tells us that something might be wrong in the culture.

    There are absolutely bouncers that are racists, that goes for any nationality, immigrant or not. I have worked with Turks that don’t like Pakistanis, Indians that hate Africans and so on. But isn’t that true for any profession? Is it just more obvious with a bouncer?

    In Norway the bouncers task is to be the club-owners representative. Therefor if a bouncer tells a guy to leave, it is considered equal to if the owner of the place would have said the same thing. This means that the owner of a place has to trust the bouncers, and they need to be a bit in sync about what they want. If the bouncer want a guy to leave, they cant really grab him if he just says no. The bouncers in Norway can’t (in principle) get physical with anyone before they feel that they or someone is in danger. That makes the screening in the door even more important. If you can stop a (potential) troublemaker in the door, before he gets in, you (as a bouncer) saves yourself a whole lot of trouble.

    In my experience, from the most “picky” places I have worked, how you act while waiting in line makes a lot of difference. If you cant stand in line for 10 minutes without blowing some steam then you might not be someone we want inside. Also, if the ladies in from or behind you are bothered already before you are inside, then you might as well be asked to leave the queue also.

    My two cents. And again, thanks for using my photo with correct attribution!

  16. Sanaz says:

    Thanks Warren,
    It’s an interesting post.

  17. Farahnaz says:

    Dear Warren,
    It strikes me that why they do like that. Are they going to make a name for their restaurants/ clubs/ … or to look down on dark skin people/ people who aren’t beautiful?
    Thanks’ for excellent information.
    Best regards,

Comments are closed.