This is nightlife, where everyone is beautiful, champagne pours like water and people quickly spend thousands. But this doesn't just happen by chance, it takes the right person, and in our case a team, to filter a crowd and create the right vibe inside. If you have ever attended a nightclub in a major city, you've probably witnessed the infamous front doorman.
This person decides who gains access to a nightclub or party and this position comes with a few familiar but unspoken rules. Doormen have a reputation of being inhospitable, saying “no" just because they can, taking money at the door, and judging the crowd based off of looks. This position was notoriously held by a man; until we (VIPER by KCH) came around and decided to change the rules.
VIPER is an all female front of house operations and logistics team. We're based in LA and almost two years old. We run the front entrance and guest check in for most major events in the city, as well as a popular Hollywood nightlife venue.
So what is it like to be a door GIRL disrupting an industry of door MEN?
It's uncharted territory that comes with sexism but also the opportunity to shift an industry where women are either there to look pretty or pour a drink.
1. You often get the question: “Can I speak to your boss?"
Oh honey I am the boss… Whether it's in line with my personal morals or not, my job is keeping the uninvited party crashers out. So when doing this, most people ask where my boss is or angrily demand to see my supervisor to go above me. Rarely does a doorman hear this because guests understand his position and authority.
Celeste Durve and Kelsi Kitchener
2. Prepare to be ignored
It is always interesting to watch people walk up to a rope and look over or around you to find someone “in charge". A guests can look straight at us standing at the door with clipboards or iPads and still talk to any man they see before approaching a woman. Either they find a security guard or ask another guest who is in charge of the door.
3. It's an opportunity to represent women in charge.
Typically venues and events end up male dominated from security teams, to management, to promoters. Being a door girl allows you to bring a feminine energy amidst a LOT of testosterone. VIPER Girls greet every guest warmly while maintaining professionalism and authority. Doormen have the reputation of being too aggressive too quickly, so we do our best to change that by treating every guest with respect (even those we have to turn away).
4. You Call Your Own Shots
Unfortunately, It's common for women to endure disrespect to protect their jobs in any field; and the nightlife industry can be particularly derogatory. Being a door girl in charge comes with the unique capability to stand your ground.
When promoters get aggressive or guests make insulting comments, we have the last word on how the night ends for them. This is a small but important way of women getting stand up in an industry where they are normally told to stay seated.
5. Always a Good Experience.
We've had clients go from saying “a woman couldn't run our door" to never operating without us there. At first glance, guests are surprised to see an all female team only to later tell us that their experience at the front enhanced their mood inside. We custom tailor our operation per our client's specific needs and gratifying to see people recognize our value and strengths.
As door girls, we have a unique job full of ups and downs. Some nights we laugh and others we cry, but there is definitely never a dull moment.
"There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before." -Willa Cather
A logical fallacy called bifurcation (yes, it sounds like a disease) is used to make people believe that they can only choose between two extreme choices: love me or leave me, put up or shut up, etc. In relation to my career and my love life, I was once stricken by this crazy malady.
I spent over a decade in and out of love relationships that undermined my career and drained my creative energy along with my finances. The key problem was that I was convinced that I had two options: be a kickass, and powerful professional who scares off any prospective mate or surrender to that deep and profound love such that my ambitions blow away in the wind. For years, my psyche ping-ponged between these two choices like that was the only game in town. But why?
Turns out we women are often programmed into thinking that we can't have love (at least that good, juicy heated kind) and any sort of real career. This is not actually that surprising given the troubled history that America has with women in the workplace. Post WWII, women were supposed to quit their jobs and scurry back home and leave the careers for the returning men. And if you think we've come a long way from making women feel they don't belong in the workplace, consider Alisha Coleman. In 2016, she was fired because her period leaked onto a chair!
But try to keep a good woman down, and well, you can't (Alisha sued her former employer). Given enough information we will always find a way to overcome our situation. As we teach in my practice, Lotus Lantern Healing Arts, we are all our own gurus. The light in the lotus just offers a way to illuminate your path.
So what was I missing so many years ago when I kept struggling between two suboptimal choices? The answer is the understanding that if I wanted to have it all, I had to start living right now as if I could. For me to be with someone who supported me having a fantastic career, I had to believe that that was actually one of my choices and start living that way.
Of course that is easier said than done (like most life lessons). So once I made that realization, here are the three key changes I made (and no they didn't happen all at once):
First, I stopped apologizing. Why the hell do women always feel the need to apologize for everything! (Sorry for swearing! Jk.) In particular, why do we have to feel bad about time away from the homefront? Remember Don Draper stopping off at the bar before heading home? I took a Madman lesson from him and stopped apologizing for my free time and let go of my usual rush to get back. Instead I focused on enjoying the transition, which was often needed to release the stress of work. Whether I was slow-driving listening to my jams and singing at the top of my lungs or stopping off for a pedicure, a little ritual went a long way to making me feel like a real human when I walked through the door.
Second, I let go of perfection in order to be present. I stopped stressing over a work deadline and instead rescheduled it to tend to my love life or postponed a romantic dinner because a juicy work opportunity appeared. In this way, I did not force an unnatural choice or one I did not want but really paid attention to what felt right. Instead of feeling subpar in each realm, I end up getting the most out of my time in both places.
Third (and perhaps most significantly) I began to welcome and expect encouragement from the most significant person in my life. I made it clear to my partner that I wanted insight and not criticism. And since I knew I needed understanding and not saving, I said, "Please help me look at my career woes from a different angle instead of offering me advice." Ultimately, I only accepted partners that truly supported my dreams and didn't let me play small.
Today, some of the most exquisite pleasure I feel comes simply from my partner witnessing me. Having a cohort who really appreciates my struggles, helps me integrate work and life, and enjoys the wins together can be mind-blowing. Likewise, when the shit hits the fan (again, not sorry!), it's really important to have a partner that can hold space for you and help you remember those wins.
It's a constant battle. Our culture still perpetuates the myth by pitting love and career against each other (ever see Fatal Attraction?). Men don't always get this message, but then we don't need to wait for them to get it. All we have to do it start living right now in the way we truly deserve and bring others along with us. When my friends see me and my partner together separately killing it in the career department and fiercely loving each other they say, "Your relationship gives me hope."