The owners, general managers and even the bartenders carry a decent amount of prestige, but it's the doorman whom night people must first and foremost look to impress. After all, if the doorman doesn't like your style, you won't even get a chance to flatter those inside.
So, in my further attempts to get to know this kooky, nutty nightlife scene a little more personally, I decided to see if I had what it takes to become a doorman.
The next logical step, of course, was to find a club that would be bold (or stupid) enough to let me work the velvet rope for a night. Would it be Prague (402 Main)? Tonic (310 Main)? The brand-new Lotus Lounge (412 Main)? Naah. It came down to what is likely the only place that would have me: The Mercury Room (1008 Prairie). They agreed, with the caveat that I not work alone. I would have to work under a seasoned doorman. I reluctantly agreed, and after Febrezing my jacket, I was ready.
My evening began at a quarter to 11 one recent Saturday night. It was a regular ol' Saturday -- as always the club's most popular night. There were long lines at the doors of the Mercury and its sister club, Boaka Bar (1010 Prairie). I teamed up with Christopher Olson, a college student who has been manning the Mercury's doors since the early days. Wrapped in a nice black suit (he says he got it off the rack at Men's Wearhouse) with a counter in one hand and a mini-flashlight in the other, Olson checked IDs and worked the ropes with a surprising permissiveness. Anyone could come in -- as long as they looked somewhat pretty.
While Olson worked the line, I opened up the ropes to let people out of the club and took requests from people who wanted to cut in line. Since I was a mere apprentice, I referred them all to Olson. He told them they could cut, for a price. (Like waiters and exotic dancers, much of a doorman's loot comes from tips.)
For my part, I met a bevy of interesting folk, just as I suspected I would. There were plenty of surgically enhanced white gals who had on enough pancake makeup to serve up their own Grand Slam Breakfast. Others, including a please-impress-me gal from Miami, needed last-minute reassurance that the club was in fact the happening place they had heard it was. One of the funniest moments came when a guy, looking to get his wife and their party into the club, told the owner, David Edwards, he wanted to talk to me instead of him -- the sad, sad fool!
There were those who went past the ropes without any drama, like the regular attendees Olson knew, or those who looked like they could class up the joint with their presence. Two such were this pair of excruciatingly tall, blond chicks who rolled up on me and scared me to death. They said they were professional basketball players, and if you saw them, it would be difficult not to believe them. Olson gave them instant access. Perhaps the most downright hilarious attempt from a person to jump the queue came from "Rebecca." She had a drippingly fake Cockney accent and claimed to be a journalist from Vanity Fair. I immediately called over Edwards, a real-live Brit, to see if he thought she was authentic enough to let in. He let her in, probably for the effort she gave, or then again, maybe she was some kind of jet-setting journo. One doesn't take any chances with VF.
By far, the highlight of the evening for me had to be when, for five minutes, Olson let me tend to the line. He handed me his mini-flashlight and told me to take over while he got a smoke. Was that a tear that fell down my rosy cheekbone? Oh, but it was a beautiful five minutes. For the first time in my sad, lonely, miserable existence, I felt like I had authority. I felt like I had the clout to pass judgment on whoever I damn well pleased. My God, my nipples were so hard, you could cut crack rocks with them! Yes, I finally had the power! At long last, I felt like a man!
And then Olson stubbed out his smoke and told me to step aside.
But all in all, it was a rather eventful evening. I met a lot of drunks, including a bride-to-be and a bunch of her girlfriends, some Enron exec-looking dude who wanted to start some shit, etc. I didn't screw things up completely, I think. But, of course, it all depends on how my superior evaluates my performance. "Craig Lindsey's performance was excellent," Olson said into my tape recorder at the end of the evening. "He did a very good job of crowd control, making the guests feel welcome and opening the ropes and greeting them with love."
There you are, then. Next week: Getting to know the security team at Spy (112 Travis) during "Bikini Boot Camp" night!