Recently, someone sent me a great article on how to crash a party. It was a great example of some of the principles I learned while writing The Game.
We contacted the author and he graciously agreed to let us repost it here–for you. He even went so far as to create a special video for the Inner Circle. It highlights some of the key points to getting into parties you may not have been invited to. I’m sure the invitation just got lost in the mail…
It makes me think of a great line from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Channeling Sean Connery, Ace utters the words, “Lovely party. Pity I wasn’t invited.”
So put on your Tux and get ready to rub elbows with the rich and famous. Here’s Neville to tell you how…
How to Crash a Party
There was a point in college where I was making money running small businesses on the side, but I wasn’t rolling in piles of money either (plus I was extraordinarily cheap back then too).
At the same time, I’d also find out about all these fancy parties that rich people went to. Well….I wanted to be a rich person one day, so I figured going to these parties and being AROUND other rich people would help.
The problem was these parties were always fundraisers for whatever charity….and that meant you had to buy a ticket that would go to charity. Often times this was $300 or even $1,000+ for ONE ticket!
As a cheap college student, that kind of money made my eyes pop out. There was no way in hell I’d pay that.
In particular, one mentor of mine at the time was the one who knew about all these parties, and had friends that attended them too.
I’d hear all about these parties, and the cool people he’d get to mingle with in casual situations, and I was very envious and wanted to go.
You see…..I would go to all sorts of speeches made by rich & famous people all the time in college…..but since these were public speeches, there were always TONS of other people vying for their attention at the same time. At most you’d get to have a Q&A session with someone, but not much more.
Being able to casually chat with a rich or famous person was WAY more appealing to me. So these parties became a thing of intrigue.
Eventually the same mentor who told me about all these parties tipped me off about a very exclusive private party at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin….with entertainment by the singer Elton John.
I wasn’t really an Elton John fan at the time…..but I was told A LOT of very wealthy people would be there. I believe the crowd was limited to about 200 people that night….so this was a very exclusive guest list.
Out of the blue, this mentor called me up around 6pm and said, “Wear a tuxedo and get your ass to the Four Seasons right now!!” He would try to see if he could sneak me in.
Even if I was willing to pay the high price of admission….it wouldn’t matter. This was a strictly invite-only affair and there were no tickets simply for sale.
I immediately dropped everything I was doing and started changing into my tux…..oh wait…Non-existent tuxedo!
This was early college, and I still didn’t own any really nice clothes.
I put on a plain black dress shirt and a pair of khaki pants. Both of which were large and baggy on me….and headed over.
The first indication that I didn’t belong at the event was when everyone in their Mercedes and Porsches were being directed to the valet parking area….and I balked at the $7 price and immediately KNEW I wasn’t gonna pay $7 to park!
I self-parked and walked into the hotel nervous as hell.
“What if they kick me out?”
“What if they know I’m not invited?”
“What if they ask me for a ticket?”
…..these thoughts ran through my head. But then I remembered the advice of my mentor…he told me, “Just walk in like you OWN the place, and they won’t say a thing.”
This comforted me a bit….until I got in the hotel, and it was a bunch of tall, older white men with impeccable tuxedos, and a bunch of white women with very expensive gowns and dresses on.
I gulped a bit….because in walks this small Indian kid dressed in un-ironed baggy khakis a plain black shirt.
I looked like the help!
In fact, “the help” was dressed better than I was!!
For a second the striking difference between me and the rest of the crowd made me nervous……but alas I kind of pulled through and said, “FUCK IT. What’s the absolute worst thing that could happen here?? This is just a private party….I’m not breaking into a bank or federal building right? At the ABSOLUTE MOST they’ll ask me to leave.”
I stuck my head up in the air like I was King-Fucking-Charles and charged past the checkin line where everyone was getting their tickets checked and getting their seat numbers.
I pretended I was in a hurry, not worrying about gently shoving people out of the way.
I could see the security guards eyeing me down….but my hurriedness and sheer balls of pushing my way through the crowd made it APPEAR that I belonged!
It worked! No one said a thing!
I realized the security guards were likely getting paid $10 an hour….and if this stupid little kid was someone’s son, or part of Elton John’s crew…or whatever…..they weren’t going to risk physically stopping him.
I WAS IN!
…and I was thrilled.
Now the hard part came. I knew NO ONE. ::gulp::
The tiny guest list ensured that only 200 or so people would be there…and it seemed they ALL knew each other.
Immediately I knew that this would be fly or die…..so I decided to fly….and meet some people so it looked like I wasn’t some loser who crashed a charity event (which of course…I was).
I saw a guy (who was tall, white, and wearing a tuxedo of course) standing alone briefly as he left conversation and I said something along the lines of, “Ahh….it feels good wearing the penguin suit in summer right?”
…..he laughed…..and I immediately started saying, “Yeah, I said screw it this time…it’s too hot!” (referring to my less-than-appropriate attire).
He laughed again….. I then asked, “What line of business are you in?”
I still remember this years later…..he said, “Carpet!”
My lame conversation starter and NOT so-subtle cues that “I totally belonged there” worked!
His business piqued my curiosity and we started having a cool conversation about how he built up a carpeting empire.
Fortunately I ran HouseOfRave.com (a drop shipping company) and a few other small businesses at the time….so I had something to talk about on my end which fascinated him too.
….of course I never let him know exactly how SMALL these companies were 🙂
From the conversation he probably thought I was some young tech entrepreneur that made millions in the tech bubble.
That was good at the time….this was my first time hanging with so many high caliber people….I wanted that misunderstanding on my side!
Fake it till you make it baby!
Anyhow….I made sure to get this guys name so I could at least fall back knowing SOMEONE at the party.
I then hit up another person, and another.
After a while, I was walking through the cocktail room saying, “What’s up John! Hey Tim! Did your wife reach yet??”
This was schmoozing at it’s finest! And I’ve gotta say….it worked like a charm.
With all my “friends” there….Anyone viewing from the outside would’ve definitely thought I belonged.
It was also at this party that I discovered a remarkably effective “friend-pickup” technique for these particular types of parties:
The bar line.
You see, at all these charity events the booze is free….and flowing.
Whatever you want, it’s all there, and 100% free.
I guess they do this for two reasons:
Reason 1.) You already pay a pretty penny just to get into these parties.
Reason 2.) They wanna get you nice and tipsy for the upcoming auctions. The drunker you are…the more you spend!
Anyhow…back to the free booze.
Usually at the cocktail hours that’s always before the main event, everyone is lining up for drinks at the bars.
At this party there was always at least 5 to 8 people waiting in line. I would simply stand in line behind someone, and immediately strike up a conversation with the following line, “Oh man a line….I need my booze now. Next time I’m bringing flask!”
They’d laugh and remark about the lines the whole night too. I’d ask them, “So whatchya getting when our number is called?”
….and they’d say something like, “Oh me and my wife always drink Gin & tonic (or whatever)”
….at which point I’d say, “Good choice….you come to these often…I’ve never seen you around?”
Doesn’t matter how lame…the point was staying in conversations!
I’d also make it a VERY strong point to introduce myself quickly after, so I could get their name also.
Also the “what line of business are you in” question would pop up quickly so I’d have something else to know them by.
My bar line trick was very effective….because by default you’ve got a minute or two to spend chatting with this person, and they’re usually not gonna be a complete douche because they’re basically stuck with you.
I was building up my arsenal of friends at the party one-by-one……and then it would SNOWBALL.
For example, I’d be talking to someone named John….when out of the blue he’d see a friend of HIS named Bill.
John will call Bill over and say hello, and then introduce ME to Bill! Now this Bill guy thinks I somehow actually belong….and not to mention I’m talking to a crowd of people who appears to know me, which is always good for the party planners to see so they don’t get suspicious.
Now just shortly after entering the room knowing NOBODY, I’m engrossed in conversations, saying hi to people everywhere and working the room!
Everything was going great until dinner was announced. It was a PACKED house and every seat in the ballroom was taken.
I went around from friend-to-friend to scope out if they had a seat, but all their tables were 100% packed to the limit.
I kind of panicked and left the ballroom. I retreated to the cocktail area and “pretended to be on an important business call”.
Eventually I found some other people hanging out there during dinner and struck up conversations.
A fortunate break was when Elton John started playing in front of the guests, a lot of people got out of their chairs and stood up towards the front for a better view. I was in luck! I simply stood with everyone else and enjoyed pretty much the most mind-blowing performance I’d ever seen.
FYI….I never really cared or knew who Elton John was (other than the Lion King song), but after that day, I’ve been an Elton John fan ever since.
It was just one man and a piano…..and that room was just FILLED with unbelievable music.
ANYHOW….I enjoyed myself, got to see a mind-blowingly great performance….
But more importantly is….I was mingling in a group full of WEALTHY people whom I admired. That was the goal.
Normally I didn’t have access to this kind of environment……but as with a lot of things in life, if you want it bad enough, you have to go out and get it.
Now since this first party, I’ve crashed MANY parties I wasn’t invited to, or just flat out couldn’t afford. Some methods of getting to these parties or events were borderline illegal….no….wait….let me correct that statement….some methods of getting into these parties or events were DEFINTELY illegal.
…and I’ve got criticism for that.
People would say, “All these people are giving to charity…and you’re sneaking in, eating the food, drinking the booze….all for free, at the expense of a CHARITY.”
Hmmm….in that light I really look like a monster.
But I look at it this way:
There’s people at these events I want to be like…..and currently I am NOT like them. In reality, I didn’t have access to those things…..and couldn’t afford to pay the price to get in. But making certain connections, learning certain things from the people there…can HELP me become more successful in the future….and at some point hopefully be able to buy full tables at these events.
But at the time….I couldn’t. So I had to get in some other way.
A lot of people in the beginning of successful careers did things that were not completely legal or ethical…..but it was how they scraped by in the beginning.
- In middle school I used to illegally download music and software and burn it onto CD’s for paying customers.
- Richard Branson of the Virgin Music empire used to drive a van full of new records back and forth between countries in Europe to avoid paying taxes on them.
- The founders of Apple, Steve jobs and Steve Wozniak….made their very first product in 1971….and it was a device that exploited the phone networks and let you illegally place calls for free.
- Las Vegas in it’s early days was a hangout for pimps, thugs, prostitutes, drug dealers and mobsters……but over time grew up into a proper tourist attraction.
Often out of the ghettoness and scrappiness, emerges something more refined.
And that was my justification.
Through crashing parties I’ve got to meet people like Lance Armstrong, Michael Dell, Elton John, Andy Roddick, Paul Mitchell and a bunch of other non-famous business people (there’s a list of them at the end of this post).
I’ve also got tons of advice from people at these parties, and learned a lot about various businesses.
But let’s re-focus here….and show how YOU can crash parties too……if you’ve got the balls.
STEP #1.) Finding a party is by far the hardest part.
You have to live in at least in a moderately good sized city. I lived in Austin, TX. this whole time….and honestly I never thought a lot of fancy charity events and parties happened here….but I was really wrong.
The mentor that told me about most of these parties taught me to keep a spreadsheet of all the parties I’d hear about or attend….and usually the parties would happen at the same time every year.
I had about 50 webpages booked marked that I’d go through each week. They were the big charities websites, and I would keep their EVENTS pages book marked and tracked on the spreadsheet.
I’d also read those high society magazines about the Austin area. You can find them at nice spas or rich area grocery stores. They usually have lots of pictures from high profile events in there….and I’d write down the event, so next year I could crash it.
I always had bookmarks of ALL the events pages around Austin…especially the University of Texas speakers that would come in town.
It’s not only high profile events you can crash….but lots of university private things.
A friend once tipped me off that Michael Dell would be speaking at her law school class (apparently his brother taught at the UT Law School for a while). I crashed that and it was an awesome talk.
So step #1 is finding out about parties. Start keeping tabs of what’s going down. It involves doing research every week, but it’s the only way to find out about all this stuff unless you’ve got someone on the inside.
Step #2 to crashing a party is:
BUY A TUXEDO! This one’s for the guys. Girls can usually get away with having a decently nice dress…..but in my experience it’s better to go alone, because the point of these parties is to force yourself to MINGLE. And if you have a date with you, you could get complacent and just hang out together without getting out of your comfort zone.
Anyhow….buy a regular old black tuxedo. It’s always OK to be over-dressed….but you don’t wanna show up to a black-tie event (which means TUXEDO’S for guys), and get turned away due to dress code.
I bought mine at K&G Men’s Warehouse for $150. They’re really not that expensive when you consider it usually will cost at least $300 just to attend one of these events.
If you show up overdressed, you now have your tuxedo as a great conversation starter!
I’d say my tuxedo has paid for itself MANY MANY MANY times over by now!
It’s funny how simply wearing a tuxedo gives you automatic status…..it works so well I find it absolutely hilarious.
One really cool event we crashed was on a FREAKIN MILITARY BASE AT NIGHT. That means you had to drive to this very specific location at night, on a military base…..and even though I didn’t have a ticket…..the fact that I showed up at the exact private location IN A FREAKIN TUXEDO let the people working there know I belonged.
They didn’t even question for a moment. But if I had waltzed in with jeans and a t-shirt, it may have been a different story.
Step # 3 to crashing a party: Keep old name badges and wristbands from different events. Almost every time when you check in with a ticket, they will give you some sort of identification that you belong.
Almost every time it’s a lanyard you wear around your neck, a namebadge to put on your shirt, or a wristband.
I have a collection of these….and when I go to an event, I bring a bunch of em. I scope out what everyone is getting, and put on the closest thing.
At events that I’ve crashed, it’s almost always a lanyard with a name badge at the end that everyone wear around their necks.
Since I’ve already got a couple of these, I pick the lanyard that looks the closest, wear it around my neck….
And the trick is….
You tuck it under your suit.
This way it appears you’re wearing the lanyard, but they can’t see the badge you’re wearing. By sheer assumption, everyone presumes you’ve just accidentally pulled your suit jacket over the lanyard. Whooopsie 😉
I would attend entire conferences like this!! Even if the lanyard color was different! They would just presume you had a different type of badge than they did.
Step #4.) Press badges:
In college I had my blog NevBlog.com, and I also published three articles in the University of Texas newspaper (which happens to be the #1 college newspaper in the country)…..so I would sometimes just make up shit and say I was covering the event as press!
This works SURPRISINGLY well.
Think about it, every event likes press coverage….and I was a quote on quote…“member of the press”!
One of the really neat-o things I found out about press access….was that the press almost always has it’s own table at a lot of events! This means you’ll always have a spot for dinner (although it’s better to mingle and sneak in with other people if you get the chance).
You can also sometimes get into exclusive press conferences with press access. At one event I crashed, I got to meet the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
I won’t go into details about that, because the methods used to crash that event were HIGHLY illegal…..but the short of is: I had press access, yadda yadda yadda, got to be in a room with only 25 people, half of which were big-ass security guards, and the Prime Minister of Malaysia giving a press address 5 feet in front of me. I then politely asked one of his assistants if I could take a personal picture with him (I didn’t DARE approach the guy myself with the level of security he had)….and I got the picture!
You can Google Image the term Prime Minister of Malaysia Neville to see the photo!
Step #5 to crashing a party:
Do your research at the venue beforehand. Almost always you can find alternative entrances to enter the party.
One time me and a friend had no luck getting through the main entrance of a party at the Hilton Ballroom.
So we went up to the hotel’s 17th floor (randomly). Picked out a room number to lie that we were staying there….then found the service elevators.
We were both in tuxedos.
We went down a few floors, and a maid got on the elevators. We made a joke that our room was close to the elevators and we were too lazy to walk to the real elevators.
She smiles, laughed, and got off a few floors down (I don’t think she understood what we were saying….or cared).
Then the elevator stopped again, and a freakin SECURITY GUARD got on with us. Damn.
The security guard was a young black guy (he actually kind of looked like the singer Usher)….and we immediately laughed and said, “Sorry man, we’re in room 1716 and were just too damn lazy to walk to the regular elevators!”
He responded, “You guys look like a million bucks! Where ya trynna go?”
We told him the big ballroom downstairs, and pretend to play dumb, “Can we just get out on the 4th floor and go there?”
He said “No way…this is the service area, I’ll take you to the ballroom!”
So we all got off on the 4th floor, and the security guard was leading us through a maze of service area halls. We ended up coming out to a back entrance of the ballroom where another security guard was standing at attention. Our security guard said, “These guys are with me” and let us through into the party!!
We were laughing our ASSES off that we first got kicked out of line for having no tickets….now we had our own little police escort INTO the party!!! HA!
This was all thanks to simply knowing the venue a bit before arriving.
Step #6 to crashing a party: The trick, is to OWN the room.
Before you walk in, literally tell you brain that, “I own this joint….these motherfuckers work for ME.”
The air of confidence (or arrogance) you give off will discourage people from stopping you.
In fact, I’m going to give you my NUMBER ONE NO-FAIL method to getting into a fancy party:
Step #7 – the last-resort-works-every-time-method:
If you use all the tips I’ve given you…and couple it with this last one….you’ll DEFINITELY be able to crash almost any party. Here’s how you do it:
Wear your nice tuxedo, bring a plain wine glass (one dollar a piece at Wal-Mart), a cocktail napkin, a cell phone, and a flask with red wine in it.
Right before you walk in the venue, pour some of the wine into the wine glass, and wrap the cocktail napkin around it.
You’re ready to walk in.
Start talking on your cell phone, holding your wine glass and cocktail napkin (so it appears you were already inside)…..now start power walking through the door.
If someone has the balls to stop you and check you for ticket, you just simply SHUSH them as if you’re annoyed (since you’re talking on the phone) ….and you keep on walking!
This has worked for me EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Here’s a brief illustration of how you do it:
Checkout out that “DON’T HASSLE ME BRO” look!
Think about it….the person checking people in is probably making $12 an hour, or is a volunteer…..they don’t want to risk being mean to the “rich person” walking inside in a hurry (who CLEARLY has been inside because he’s holding a half-full wine glass).
The way you look with a wine glass, cell phone, hurried walk and tuxedo attire….is an almost guaranteed admission inside if you pull it off correctly!
SOOOO there ya go. That’s how to find and crash parties.
Most people reading or listening to this will never do this…..it takes a lot of balls and determination to try something like this….but in the end, it was totally worth it.
The people I met, the stories I got, the things I learned, and the pictures I got from these parties were amazing.
I definitely think it was one of those things that’s helped drive me…..and if nothing else, provide some damn interesting stories and fun times 🙂
This is Neville Medhora. Goodnight.
You can read more about Neville and some of the parties he has crashed at Nevblog.com