Unless you are a female model or a guy that is very well-connected in his local nightlife scene, chances are you already have been rejected at a club. Especially in a city like Moscow, where door managers can be unforgiving and hard to understand, this can happen to you very easily. It has happened to me more than once in Moscow, even at places where I had never expected to get rejected.
You’ll probably agree with me that worse than the actual rejection is the feeling of uncertainty before.
The doubt you feel when you don’t know if they are going to let you in or not.
The embarrassment when you have to lie that you don’t know the people behind you although you came there together.
The unease about what you should say when they ask you why you don’t have more girls in your group.
Moscow is very particular when it comes to getting into nightclubs. It took me a while to figure out the nitty gritty of it. But you’re in luck because you don’t have to go through all of that. If you read this guide, you’ll save yourself the embarrassment and sinking feeling of hearing a NO at the door.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
Follow the guide and you should be able to unlock even the most exclusive nightlife venues in Moscow.
Unless you have been to Russia or Ukraine and are familiar with local nightlife habits, by now you are probably wondering what the hell “face control” is supposed to mean.
Glad you asked.
Face control is pseudo-English Russian term that means nothing else but managing who gets to enter a club and who doesn’t. The only difference is that in Russia face control refers most of the time to higher-end nightclubs because you are being judged on how wealthy and beautiful you appear.
The way it works in Moscow is that in every average to better club you have a “face control guy" (or girl) and bouncers to ensure safety. Sometimes you get asked how many of you there are, if you’re on a list and how your evening is going. Essentially the usual chit-chat to see whether you’re cool enough to come inside. Other times there’s no talk at all and you’re simply waived in or rejected based on the snap judgement that the “facer” made about your appearance.
Since in Moscow a lot of clubs don’t work with guest lists, all power about whether you’re in or out lies with the person at the entrance.
Now it’s total standard procedure for a club to filter out who gets in and who doesn’t. Moscow face control is still a bit of a different animal.
Of course you have the official reasons for it, such as making sure everyone inside stays safe, no weirdos, drunk or aggressive people get in, that there’s an adequate mixture of people and so on.
But of course that’s all bullshit.
The only reason, the real reason why they use it is very simple.
And of course it makes complete sense why especially Moscow nightclubs are so infamous for their door policy and having harsh face control.
The real reason is their IMAGE.
Image is everything in Moscow nightlife and that is what clubs value more than anything else. They couldn’t care less whether you are drunk of your ass or completely high, as long as your presence serves their image well.
In other words face control exists not to let the cool people in but to let the right kind of people in. If you can bring value to the particular club you are visiting then you’re going to get whisked in like a playmate at a mansion party.
The only problem is: what might be of value for one club could be totally out of place at another.
But lucky for you this guide exists, so you will be ahead of 95% of all other people who want to get in as well. Because unlike them, you will know what the key thing is that you have to bring to get in.
The "right kind of people" in some clubs...
Since now you know that clubs care about their image more than anything else, it is time to think about how you can use this to your own advantage.
What is it that you need to bring to the table, or actually the door of where you want to go?
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a guy or a girl, you always need to bring VALUE to get in. Arguably you don’t even want to go to a club that doesn’t care about this because that simply means that anyone will be invited in. That does not sound like a good crowd to be a part of.
Think about it like this: the face control person is only executing the club’s brand policy. Only the right kind of people will get in. If you know how to be a part of them you will have no issues. Read the club reviews to see what kind of crowd you can expect. Or check out the article on crowd types to get an idea of what kind of people go where.
So if you can fit in with a club’s image and you bring value you are good. We already covered the image part. There’s two ways you can bring value (hint: those three charming spoilt brats in the picture above have plenty of it)
Money and presence
It should be obvious that one way is more appropriate for men and the other for women. Unless you’re Justin Bieber, you’re hardly going to impress the club with your presence, at least when you come for the first time and don’t know anyone. At the same time the club doesn’t care how little money a girl has. As long as she looks stunning, she will attract men who do.
As you can see, for a man it doesn't matter how young, old, handsome or ugly he is. Money talks. It's always been this way and in Moscow that's exponentially more true.But you can always hack the system and I am going to give you a few tips on how to do that.
So now we established what you need to have, let’s look at how you will be able to show that to lift the rope. It all boils down to 4 factors:
First, you want to project confidence. Act like you belong there. A great way to do that is to visualize that you actually own the club. It doesn’t matter if you only are balling or broke, it’s all about the presence in the moment. Imagine that it’s the last time ever that you’ll go to this club. Make eye contact with the security and the face control person. Smile. Have a little smile on your face. Act like you have done this a million times even if you haven’t
At the same time be respectful and sociable. Greet them in a serious but confident tone of voice, don’t mutter or stumble over your own voice. Have a bit of a friendly chat but only if they seem open to it. In Moscow it is very unusual to do chit-chat at the door so don’t force it and just be friendly. It’s a bit of a procession but it’s not a coronation, you are just trying to get inside a nightclub. No need to speak Russian. As a matter of fact your chances are much better if you speak English. That goes back to the IMAGE I was talking about. A foreigner is automatically assumed to have money that he is willing to spend.
Of course how you dress is a big part of your image too. It’s the only way that you can hint at your value and that you have plenty of money to spend even if you don’t. I covered dressing properly in this guide so no excuses for you to not be dressed appropriately.
All this also applies when you have a table but of course it is much easier if you already bought yourself in. This is the easiest way to crack even really tough to enter high-end clubs. Basically be well dressed and not a drunk asshole at the door and no one will think twice about letting you in.
It is actually not that difficult to do this right but some people still manage to fuck it up. Just follow these really basic guidelines and you eliminated already 80% of possible reasons to be rejected:
Mistake #1: Being too drunk
This should be really obvious. You can totally come a few drinks in but don’t be slurring your words.
Mistake #2: Coming in a big group
Three is the absolute maximum, this goes for guys and girls. No one likes a football team or a hen party. Unless you have a TABLE of course.
Mistake #3: Being negative or aggressive
Don’t hang your head, have doubts about whether you will get in or have your mind on other stuff. I have gotten rejected at clubs when I was well dressed but tired and mentally somewhere else. These people are experts at figuring out your energy.
Mistake #4: Trying to openly bribe them
Yes, corruption works in Russia but don’t be open about it. Especially if you are a foreigner and don’t know your way around. If you get rejected but really want to enter the club, you can approach one of the security guys after a few minutes (because the face control person won’t leave the door) and politely ask whether you can find an agreement, since you’re really interested in entering their respectable venue. This isn’t for beginners though and I discourage you from doing that if you don’t speak Russian.