Credit: Girls Chase

Tight jeans, a crop top and sneakers could get you in at one of tighten opens the doors to hot clubs in my hometown of San Juan, but that’s not the case here in New York City if you want to be seen partying at one of the clubs where Rihanna or Leonardo DiCaprio hangs.

“Here the catch is you have to wear a really nice looking tight dress and show some cleavage, high heels and make-up,” said Nicolai Schneider, an NYU student and former promoter for 1 Oak, Ganservoort Park, PhD and Up & Down, to name a few. “Also, you need to bring lots of girls; about seven per one guy”

New York City nightlife is an industry run by men, for men, and on women. “The girls are brought in to attract big-spending clients from among the young global elite, willing to spend thousands of dollars on alcohol […] The girls are seen as interchangeable; one club owner calls them “buffers” because rows of them frame his Instagram party pictures,” commented Dr. Ashley Mears, an associate professor of sociology at University of Boston, in an opinion on The New York Times.

“Sometimes I feel exploited when the promoter takes some pictures of the girls at their table,” said Gigi L’Insalata, a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, who agrees with Dr. Mears. “I usually try to avoid getting in them.”

Promoters usually have a list of on-call women or “girls,” as they call them, to attend to these parties. They get there, don’t pay the door cover or the table, and drink for free, as their main goal is to also entertain the big spenders. Yet, the “girls” don’t get pay to attend to the high-end clubs as promoters do.

Schneider, who worked as a promoter for one year, explained that club owners usually give young promoters one or two contracts. The first one requires bringing in a minimum number of girls, either 20 or 30 per promoter, and get paid around $300 to $500 the night. The second contract pays per girl about $10. “The problem with the second contract is that clubs tend to have certain standards, in which if they don’t find a girl pretty enough they can kick her out and that’s bad business.”

So, why do women consent dancing in sexism? “It is something to do and it can be fun if you go with a bunch of friends,” said L’Insalata. “As much as I hate sexism, and I may seem contradictory, if I’m really low on cash clubs are cheaper than bars, still I would go to a bar any day.”

L’Insalata commented that she is very aware of how gender roles and sexism play a huge role in the nightclub life. Even though, she has experienced inappropriate behavior from a promoter asking for pictures of her and her friends in what they were wearing, despite sending him pictures of the dresses. She says this doesn’t stop her from dressing up, because she feels pretty and good about herself.

“Usually promoters try to take good care of the girls in the clubs because they are the ones in your table,” said Schneider. However, for L’Insalata this doesn’t seem to be the case, has had various issues with prmoter. The FIT student said she was yelled by a promoter for talking to younger men she met at the club and wasn’t dancing proximately close to the promoters table. As well as her friend who was pushed and yelled, by a promoter, for kissing her boyfriend in his table, claiming that she wasn’t allowed to be with boys there. Tired of this promoter, L’Insalata resorted to get a new promoter to get her in the same club her former promoter work, just to encounter him and have him yelling at her and friends that they weren’t loyal and have them removed by the bouncer.

“I’ve been to clubs a good amount now, so I know not to deal with shit. If a promoter gives me a problem or a guy makes me uncomfortable, I’m out of there,” said L’Insalata.

Many might envy partying as hard and luxurious as Rihanna and DiCaprio, though when you weight in what this vicious cycle sponsors, is it really worth it putting that tight dress and those dreary high heels?