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Sizing Up the Nightlife – A study of status distinction

Sizing Up the Nightlife – A study of status distinction.

The article linked above highlights a study by a sociologist at the Kellogg school of business, Dr. Lauren Rivera. It’s a fascinating summary detailing the incredibly intricate status distinctions at New York night clubs.

A few thoughts:

  • Since this is an elite setting, celebrity and celebrity-association are the strongest determiners. After that comes wealth. After that comes gender (women first).
  • Bribes seem to be outdated and unwelcome, even though they indicate wealth.
  • The best thing a guy can do if he is a “new face” is to (Duh!) bring young, attractive women with you, and dress well.
  • The author notes that (attractive) women are given more value than men. She notes that this is opposite of the typical, more cliche dynamic like that in a workplace. But she doesn’t seem to note the fact that men follow hot women to an establishment, but not the other way around.
  • Note that dressing well for a club, and being “well-dressed” are two different things. The author notes “elegantly-dressed” men being turned away…but doesn’t seem to recognize that there’s something inherently wrong with wearing a suit to a dance club.
  • Behavior matters less as a status-factor in this situation, because the decision takes place in a split second. So ask yourself, if you had to, how do you show your social value in a way that’s instantly recognizable?

What do you think? Please take a moment and leave a comment below.


  1. June 19, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Can you elaborate in a post about the last comment you made above – how do you show your social value in a way that’s instantly recognizable?

    • June 22, 2012 at 9:26 AM

      Well, in the case of clubs, it’s usually pretty easy to spot. Think of it this way: right look, right company, right attitude. You stand you best chance of getting in somewhere exclusive if you:

      1) Look good. The people who get let in all have a finely honed sense of club style – right designers, and just the right amount of flash. Just enough to show they belong there, not so much as to say, “I’m trying to look like something I’m not.”

      2) Have the right companions. Odds of entry go up exponentially of you have attractive female friends with you. If, after that, you know someone who can get you on the list, you’re set. Both are displays of status. People who are regulars in this scene have bumped into the same people and made friends. They meet promoters, bouncers, band members, D.J.s, etc.

      3) Have the right attitude. Usually just upbeat and laid back. Not trying to blow past the bouncers or give them grief. But not looking uncomfortable or glancing around at other people. Composed and controlled. There to have fun, even if you have to wait a bit.

      These are all ways that people demonstrate value (i.e. that they’re worth hanging around) in a way that’s instantly recognizable.

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