I celebrated my 32nd birthday in Las Vegas this year, because I'm single, I drink a lot, and I'm just the right amount of poor to think that I'm going to turn $100 into $1 million by winning the jackpot on the insanely addicting/embarrassing Wheel of Fortune slot machines. Jackpots aside, I still think that as a single guy, I belong celebrating big occasions at nightclubs -- you know, like, birthdays, Labor Day, New Year's Eve, Thursdays -- despite the fact that the crowd looks younger and younger every time I weasel my way in the door. But at the birthday celebration, I thought for a brief moment that, like Danny Glover in "Lethal Weapon," maybe I was "too old for this shit." A few tequilas later, though, that thought went away, because I'm not too old. And you're not either. At this stage, there's a fine line between having fun at a nightclub and heading home to write a suicide note. For some, that line is cut with a credit card and snorted with a $100 bill. But even without drugs, there are ways for adults to survive the clubs. Scroll through and check out how someone who hasn't seen a spring break since Carson Daly was hosting it on MTV can successfully maneuver the club scene.
Get Your Rest and Be Pumped to Party
The older you get, the harder it is to recover from a big night out, so get your rest, and prepare mentally for a big night. Once you do start the night, you don't want to be the guy who pounds five shots and passes out in the corner before the fun even starts. "Pace yourself," says Vanessa Menkes, a Senior Vice President on The Opium Group, which owns clubs like Mansion, Louis and Set in Miami. "Miami is a late town and most parties don't even get going until after midnight, and go on until 5 a.m. If you start your night too early, you may poop out before the best part of the evening."
Find the Music You Like
I was a huge DJ AM fan, and when he died, a big chunk of the rock/hip-hop nightclub scene left with him. But it's still out there if you look for it, so if you're the type of guy who can only have fun by hearing a mashup of LMFAO and Lil Jon's "Shots" with Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," then make sure you head to right club on the right night. "Most club promoters and owners cater to the Top 40 crowd, so the more unique but less lucrative specialty nights have thinned out," according to Hollywood native DJ Morty Coyle, who has been Los Angeles' preeminent '80s and rock DJ/aficionado for more than 15 years. "However, there are a good number of stalwart DJs who've taken to bars and smaller clubs to preserve the art of rocking a room with a genre-splicing and more nuanced setlist."
There is nothing worse then being the sober guy in a nightclub, so even though you will do plenty of drinking while you are there, you definitely need to show up with a few drinks in you. To get there cheap in Las Vegas you can sit at a nickel slot machine and get free drinks. In LA, there's always a cheap dive bar somewhere near the club. In Miami, there's always some friend who will host a pre-party. And in New York, well, I hear New Jersey is pretty close.
Hang Out in the Low-Key Areas
Walking into a club can be overwhelming at first. In the right mood, I can totally be into the wild electronic dance music scene, but since I need some time to get in that mood, I like to find a chill area to hang out in first. At clubs like Surrender at the Encore in Las Vegas, they actually have blackjack tables by the pool area where you can drink, gamble and actually talk to girls. Eric Major, a private VIP host based in Las Vegas, agrees. "I like to see which bartender has the most personality because ladies can usually pick up on that and flock to the bar," he says. "Once I get my buzz on and I got a little more confidence, I like to post up in the gaming area because the ladies love being around all that loot."
Surround Yourself With the Right Friends
At the outside chance you're not the stud you thought you were, you may not be able to attack the nightclub scene on your own and walk away with that threesome you fantasized about while you were gelling your hair and bathing in cologne. That's why it's important to head out with the right friends. "You don't want to spend your night with the married friends who are looking at their watches the whole time or the too-aggressive single guy that scares all the girls away," said Alan Roth, owner of Ricochet in Miami. "You need the perfect mix of friends to make for a fun night, and if one of those friends is the big spender who picks up the tab, that's even better."
Hover Around the Bachelorette Parties
Call me cray cray -- no, for real, that's what the kids say -- but when I try to meet girls at clubs, I like spending some time scouting the talent. Without fail, the best group is always the bachelorette party. The girls are usually in the right age bracket and looking for the "best weekend ever! #YOLO" (Yes, they say that too.) Avoid the ones with diamond rings, and as Colin Comer, the VP of Marketing of The Light Group in Las Vegas (which owns 1 OAK at the Mirage, The Bank at the Bellagio and Haze at Aria) will tell you, be a gentleman. "It always comes down to being genuine, confident and respectful. Using a cheesy pickup line at the bar will not help you pick up girls. So if you're at a nightclub by the bar, ask girls nicely if they would like to have a drink with you. It also never hurts to make the rounds to pool parties earlier in the day and invite those girls out to meet you that night."
Become Friends With the Bartender
I've always envied Norm from "Cheers," and not just for his good looks, but also because he was a "regular" who had his beer ready for him before he planted his butt in his seat. You're never going to have that relationship with a bartender at a big nightclub, but it's worth developing a rapport with the right bartender because she can help you schmooze with other ladies, get your drinks quickly and make your night more fun. Just don't try to take her home with you. "I get hit on all the time," says Kat, a sexy bartender at Bamboo Nightclub in Miami Beach. "It never works. It's the clients that reciprocate with friendliness that I enjoy because they are there to have fun and not get laid. In return, they get treated like a friend, and I'm always splendid with my friends, even if we are only friends for one night." If you just have to hit on the bartender, the best thing to do is create an entire article about nightclubs for a popular website, just so you can impress her by including her opinions in the article. It works every time.
Meet a Celebrity
One time at a club, I met Hayden Panettiere, and I definitely, maybe, sort of made her smile. I tell that story to everyone, and every time I tell it, I embellish it a little bit more. That why it's time to stop pretending you don't care about celebrities and embrace the fact that they enhance the club scene in a big way. Plus, if you're taking a girl out and you get her into a room with her favorite star, she'll love you forever. "That's the place she reads about online or in magazines," said Brett Gursky, a writer/director in Los Angeles who throws parties three nights a week in the VIP room of LA's newest hotspot, Bootsy Bellows. "There seems to be an added excitement for people when they find themselves at a table next to a celebrity, because it must mean they're in the 'right place' if it's the same spot that someone like Leonardo DiCaprio would choose, when he can get in anywhere in the world. And Leo, for the record, is 37."
Don't Be That Guy
There's being older than most people in the club and then there's being the oldest guy in the club. Don't be that guy. If you look around and most of the crowd could be your kids, get out. Run like the wind. I don't care how many bottles you are buying or how many girls the VIP host throws your way; everyone is laughing at you. I promise. I know, because I will definitely be that guy one day.