Whoever said “you can’t judge a book by its cover” surely hadn’t had many experiences going to nightclubs. Often, when out for a night on the town, your first impression of a bar or club may be a valuable warning or recommendation. So take the time to gather your first impression before waiting in line, paying the cover charge, or checking your jacket. You may decide that the club is not right for you after all.
When approaching a club, first take a look at the people that are outside of it. This is possibly the most insightful clue into the club’s interior, as the people outside are probably soon going to be the people inside. What do they look like? Are they young, trendy types? Are they all sporting mohawks and chains, or do you see a lot of dreadlocks and detect the faint smell of patchouli oil? Sometimes it can be hard to tell who is who outside of a club, but as you move closer, you may be able to tell a little bit better if they are the type of people you’d like to spend your evening crammed up against. Do you notice any attractive people standing outside, any interesting types you think you’d like to meet? You can be pretty sure that if you are seeing friendly people outside that the scene inside is going to be even better.
Next, check to see how the people are arranged outside the club, and what the atmosphere is like. Are people lined up neatly and efficiently, waiting for the bouncer to let them in? Is there a mad crowd of people, fighting and pushing their way inside? For ultra-trendy clubs, the outside might be more packed and crowded than the inside, but in most cases, a crowded exterior will mean an even more crowded interior. Keep that in mind as you decide whether or not to push your way to the front of the line. Are you up for a night of pushing and being pushed?
Of course, having a group outside that is too quiet does not necessarily bode well either. If people are silent, not talking to each other, or are otherwise unfriendly, you may ask yourself if there will be much of a change once you get through the doors. What’s the point of going to a club if you’re not going to meet anybody? What you want to find is a happy medium, a good-sized but not too large group waiting outside the club, talking and enjoying themselves already, but not pushing or being aggressive to get past the bouncer. In other words, if the outside of the club is a place you don’t mind hanging out (barring the weather and the cold), then the inside of the club should be even better.
Next, listen to the music seeping out from inside the club. Many people wait until they get inside to see what the DJ is spinning, but by then it’s too late. You don’t want to have wasted half an hour getting in a club, putting away your jacket and buying a drink before realizing that you’ve come on the ‘70’s Revival night. So listen first before you decide about the club.
What can the sign tell you? A club’s sign is not an infallible way to decide whether it is a good choice for a night out or not, but it can provide you with some handy clues. Rainbow colors on a sign are an indication of a gay-friendly club or bar, and though those locations are almost always tolerant of non-gays or lesbians, you should be comfortable with a gay environment before deciding to enter. Discrete signs or a lack of sign entirely can have two meanings, depending on location. If the place is a trendy New York or London neighborhood, it probably means the bar or club is one of the newest and coolest places around. Clubs without signs are a growing trend and can offer a special and hip night out. If the club is in a less trendy neighborhood, however, the lack of sign may indicate a strip club or other sexually-oriented location, so be careful!
Finally, and most importantly, when making the decision about whether or not to try out a new club or bar, take a moment to take in the entire exterior of the location. Does the place seem welcoming, interesting, and fun? Can you see yourself having a good time here, or does the simple act of standing outside make you uncomfortable? There are a ton of small and even subconscious decisions that go on when assessing your first impression of a nightclub, so listen to yourself. If your interest has been piqued and you’d like to see more, open that door, and head on in!