Avoiding Amateur Nights

By Gamal Hennessy

I love Halloween. It might be my favorite holiday. To me, it beats out Thanksgiving, July 4th and even Arbor Day. Part of my attraction to Halloween is the chance it gives people to move away from their day to day personas and create a new identity from their imaginations. Unfortunately, Halloween is also a breeding ground for amateurs, and little good can come from a night over run with amateurs.

Natives and amateurs
I need to be very clear about my distinction between nightlife natives and nightlife amateurs. Where you fit isn’t a function of how many clubs you’ve been to or how many times you go out. It’s about quality, not quantity.

For nightlife natives, going out is part of their daily routine. We enjoy the drinking, dancing, dating and hustling that is a part of city living. It’s not a problem for us to go out three or four nights a week and consistently make it to work the next day without hangovers, scars or gaps in our memory.

In contrast, amateurs tend to crash and burn. The combination of liquor, hormones, drugs and sleep deprivation overwhelm them, leading them to make decisions that can generously be described as questionable. When you’re out and you see people starting fights, throwing up in the street, peeing between cars, getting thrown into a squad car or an ambulance, or unable to show up at work the next day you’re looking at amateurs. When community boards complain about the nightlife that is ruining their quality of life, they’re complaining about amateurs. Simply put, amateurs give natives a bad name.

The need for amateurs
At this point, you might think that I don’t appreciate amateurs. That is simply not true. Amateurs are essential to nightlife for several reasons. First, everyone has to start somewhere. It has been said that you don’t really know your limit until you’ve crossed it. Many natives go through an amateur period of excess that teaches them what they can and can’t handle. As long as you evolve from that stage, no worries. Amateurs often serve as an entertaining example of what not to do.

Second, amateurs are a good source of revenue. When amateurs go out, they pay bouncers at the door to get in, then pay cover charges and pay full price (or more) for their drinks or even better they just buy bottles. When natives go out many of them have ways of having a good time without spending a lot of cash. If everyone was a native, clubs wouldn’t make enough to stay open.

Finally, and most importantly, some people like being amateurs. Of course, they don’t call themselves amateurs. They consider themselves hardcore gangsters or players who need to prove how much liquor, coke or sex they can consume in public. But since our definition of amateur revolves around excess quantity, anyone whose goal is over consumption qualifies as an amateur.

Avoiding amateurs
If you’ve read this far and decided that you want to avoid amateurs at night, be careful. There are some common misconceptions out there. Some people believe that if you avoid B&T traps, you avoid amateurs. Not true. While it is true that many amateurs come from outside the city, amateurs can pop up anywhere…even in Brooklyn. Also, some people might think that if you just get a bottle and stay in the VIP area you are shielded from amateurs. This is a trap. Amateurs often buy their way into places they couldn’t otherwise get into. They are actually drawn to the VIP area for the temporary status it promises. There is nothing worse than paying several hundred dollars for Grey Goose AND being surrounded by amateurs all night.

There are two main ways I’ve found to avoid amateurs. The first is to go out on the nights that they stay home. Sunday to Thursday are the best native nights. Friday and Saturday are mostly amateur nights. The second solution is to go to the places where amateurs can’t get in, including house parties, private clubs or out of the way spots that the amateurs haven’t found yet. Even in this period of political change, this might be one occasion where segregation is desirable.

When amateurs attack
As I stated before, you can find amateurs all over the city on any given night. However there are some nights when the concentration of amateurs swells to crisis levels. These nights include the birthday of the individual amateur, New Year’s Eve and Halloween. If you consider that Halloween (an amateur holiday) falls on a Friday (a traditional amateur night) during a period of severe economic stress, you might come to the conclusion that tonight is a perfect storm for amateurs. Many natives will be willing to brave this storm and have a good time. I’m not. Enjoy yourselves tonight and let me know how it goes. Hopefully I’ll see you at the lounge next Wednesday for the victory parties…

Have fun.