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A Doorman’s Tips for Getting into South Beach Clubs

Renowned South Beach Doorman Marcus Pelle Answers Your Burning Questions About the Velvet Rope
October 17, 2013 By Matt Meltzer in Miami: Nightlife

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An engineer just told you you weren’t dressed well enough.

Normally, this would be the most defeating fashion moment of your life, but this engineer happens to be Marcus Pelle, the British-educated gatekeeper for such South Beach hotspots at Nikki Beach and SET, who came to Miami 12 years ago for a job in engineering, started bartending on weekends, and slowly – yet responsibly – let the allure of South Beach nightlife draw him in. Now his onetime “side-job” has become a full-blown career, and he is one of the most recognizable and omnipresent figures in Miami nightlife.

The smartest doorman you’ll ever meet agreed to share some tips and insight on navigating the ropes at South Beach’s hottest clubs, as well as why you should always bring a business card and never mention you’re from New York.

What are the things you’re looking for when you’re running the door?
It’s an image business, so historically the clubs that have done well in Miami have been the ones that match up their target audience with the people they let in. So it depends on the club I’m working at, but we try to have a balance of players, models and people who bring good energy.

I’m here for a bachelor party and I’ve got a group of, say, 6 guys, what do I have to do to get in?
The easiest way to mitigate any problems if you’re a big group of guys is to PLAN AHEAD.  Make sure everyone’s dressing well, reserve a table, and make sure you have a good balance between girls and guys. I’d say DEFINITELY, #1, bring your own girls.

What if you just got off the plane, don’t live here, and don’t know any girls?
It’s hard to have leverage when you show up without girls. But there are things a doorman can do, so just make sure you assess the situation, approach the doorman and say “Ok, we’ve got X amount of guys here and we want to spend some money.” If he’s reasonable, you’ll have a few options. Not just a table, but maybe a bottle at the bar, or a consumption minimum per person at the bar.  But make sure you take care of the doorman.

What’s the right amount to “take care of the doorman?”
(Laughs). There’s a way of taking care of the doorman that’s not being offensive, just more like you’re tipping for good service. It’s on you, but make it appropriate to who you’re dealing with. It’s based on common sense, look at if he’s wearing an expensive suit, or where he’s working.

Are the door policies and prices negotiable?
Places are always willing to negotiate about tables and that. Location is one thing, the location of the table in a big club can help you negotiate.  Also, if a group of guys come, bring a business card or something so I know who I’m dealing with. If I know who they are and what they do and that they might come down regularly, it’s easier for me to open up options for them. I love repeat business.

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What are some lines that never work?
I’m really not sure how the City of New York operates , because every third person who comes to my door claims to be “The Boss of New York,” and I wonder how such a big city works with that many bosses.

So don’t tell a doorman you own New York?
No. Don’t do that. Also, don’t be forceful or aggressive. People who are in bad moods will ruin the club’s vibe, so if they’re aggressive at the door, snapping fingers, or grabbing me, then I get a notion that they’re gonna be bad clients. Or if a guy doesn’t get a drink straight away at the bar he starts complaining, if you’re impatient like that you’re going to ruin the night.

Does dropping names ever work?
It’s one thing to drop names of people who are legitimately in the business, like club owners and that. But it’s another to drop names of people I don’t even know. People often come up and start running through a list of names. I’m like, “Who’s that?” And they say, “Yo, he’s my cousin.” Ohhhh, like I’m supposed to know him.

Should ladies expect to pay cover?
VIP clubs try and take care of girls as much as possible, so there’s a lot more options for them coming out. Most places there is a cover charge for everybody, but we are empowered to select which people are comped, and if there’s girls who come out by themselves, yeah we’ll do that as a gesture.  But it’s all based on the night, so while it can be waived for girls, it’s not always.

We have readers who occasionally write in and say “I’m a female and a little overweight and I’m worried about getting into clubs.” What should we tell them?
(Pauses) We’re an image-based business, so we can’t always take care of everybody. On certain nights, we’re more open, but other nights we cannot do that, and I don’t think I can be any more plain about it.

What’s the craziest thing someone’s done to try and get by you at the door?
I once had a lady walk up to me and say “I have a Leo DiCaprio here and you have to let him in, and he’s coming so you HAVE to do this.” Very insistent. So I say ok and this car pulls up and the guy gets out and he’s in a big hooded tarp with all these people around him and a cap over his face,  and he won’t move the cap so you can’t see his face. And as he gets closer to me it was clearly not Leo, like not even the same stature, so when he finally got to the door I held the door back and called over the managers to have a good laugh.

Related Categories: Miami: Nightlife,

About the Author: Matt Meltzer is a featured columnist at Miami Beach 411.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer

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