Stephen Heyman of The New York Times published an interesting article about guest lists at the elite NYC nightclubs with cruel door policies. It’s titled: Beware the Doorman Wielding an iPad and here are some highlights.
It’s 2 a.m. at Lavo, the East 58th Street hot spot, and there’s an impenetrable mob radiating from a single point: the doorman Richard Wheeler (New York’s Iciest Doormen). Everyone is vying for Mr. Wheeler’s attention, particularly, it seems, middle-aged men who prize young women who prize very expensive high heels.
Amid this clamor, a grizzled gentleman in an expensive-looking blazer walks up. Instead of schmoozing the doorman or checking to see if he’s on the guest list, he whips out his wallet and flashes a mysterious card. The velvet ropes part, no questions asked.But unknown to the poor souls stuck outside, the hardest-to-crack clubs offer another, more exclusive way in: a permanent guest list that allows super V.I.P.’s to waltz in anytime.
The partners at Lavo sent out bronze-colored A-list cards to about 1,000 friends and associates, each bearing the cardholder’s name and a three-digit number. “Dear Friend,” the enclosed note said, “Because it is not always possible to call in advance or make reservations or add yourself to the guest list, we have created a permanent guest list.”
Noah Tepperberg, one of the partners of Lavo, said the list is composed of boldface names like the media heiress Amanda Hearst, the chef Eric Ripert, Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté and the art dealer Tony Shafrazi. But the bulk are industry bigwigs who don’t usually appear on Page Six, including record label executives, magazine editors, well-connected publicists and modeling agents.“These people aren’t club crawlers,” Mr. Tepperberg said. “They don’t know the doorman. They might not carry my e-mail or my phone number or know to call ahead.”
When asked how one gets on the list, Mr. Tepperberg offered his condolences. “There’s no rhyme or reason to it,” he said. “You have to become familiar or get acquainted with the owners. And that’s just the starting point.”
A SELECT number of clubs have quietly kept a permanent guest list for favorite customers. Unlike a regular guest list, which changes nightly depending on who’s giving the party, the permanent list stays the same no matter the night, whether it’s a rainy Monday or a busy Thursday with the fashion world’s favorite D.J., Michel Gaubert.
At 1Oak, an upscale club in Chelsea that gets its share of celebrities, the permanent list is referred to as the Bible. Although the club is four years old, the list goes back a decade, cobbled together from the handwritten who’s-who of the owners’ previous establishments, including Life and Lotus.
The Bible numbers about 2,000 and is now kept on an iPad, which is synched with the club’s server. It tracks not only names, but also drink preferences and spending habits.
Whereas Lavo’s list is mostly friends and business associates who don’t frequent nightclubs, 1Oak’s list is more like a V.I.P catch-all. Ronnie Madra, one of 1Oak’s partners, would not disclose names on the list, but described those on it as “celebs, socialites, tastemakers, trendsetters and high-net-worth players from all around the world.”
“I come from an old-school background: if the doorman thought you were cool, then you’re in,” Mr. Madra said. “Now, you need a list to keep the balance between the V.I.P.’s, the people who are spending money, the people who are at the bar, the people who are filler, the people who are trendy, the scene-makers.”
Seen in that light, the permanent guest list is just another iteration of a proven night-life formula: entice the cool crowd with V.I.P. treatment, and the paying masses will follow.
“It’s important to make people feel like they are taken care of, like they are insiders,” said Matt Abramcyk, the Beatrice Inn alumnus who now runs the Bunker Club, an underground spot in the meatpacking district known for its cruel door policy. “I think every club must do this.”
The Bunker’s super A-list, which is also kept on an iPad, numbers about 1,000. Mr. Abramcyk also declined to divulge any names, but said the list was not confined to movers and shakers. “It’s a bit more egalitarian,” he said. “We have magicians and ventriloquists, too.”
The Top of the Standard a.k.a. The Boom Boom Room remains one of the city’s most fiercely guarded clubs, but André Balazs, the owner, is hushed about any V.I.P. list, except to refer to it, through his publicists, as a “core list.”