Dress Codes – One thing that is very important to understand before you go out is dress codes. The worst thing is getting ready, picking up all your friends, stopping at the ATM, grabbing a few road sodas with your friends (we don’t condone drinking and driving) and driving 45 minutes to Boston just to realize one of your friends wore basketball sneakers and baggy jeans (this has only happened to me a few hundred times.) As a rule of thumb, I always try to dress a little nicer than the place I’m going so if you get there late and a line is forming the bouncers won’t have your clothes as a reason to turn you away. Be mindful of the fact that the time you get to a bar or club has a lot to do with what you will get away with wearing too. If there is a line forming or the inside is packed, the bouncers are going to scrutinize what you are wearing a lot more compared to if you show up early and there is no line because it is riskier for them to turn people away so early in the night. The best thing to do if you want to wear a t-shirt or some sneakers that you really like that might be borderline for the place you are going is just bring backups. I’ve done that many a time, got turned away for my outfit and it saved the night from beging ruined. Below are the descriptions of all of the three dress code categories we have in all of the ratings.
Strict – Have on at least a button up collared shirt, no holes in jeans or baggy jeans and shoes. At venues that have this on their dress code, beware of polos or t-shirts, or even stylish shoes. They might not let you in if there’s anything about your outfit that’s borderline (ESPECIALLY if you’re not with girls)
Medium – Stylish t-shirts, polos and stylish footwear (something in between shoes and Jordans.) Be cautious wearing hats to these venues, usually they won’t let it happen and you’re going to have to take a walk back to the car to put it in there. As far as summertime, some of these places will allow shorts too, which you wouldn’t be able to get away with at a “strict” spot.
Lenient – At these venues (usually going to be bars or dive bars) hats, sneakers, baggy jeans are all acceptable. This doesn’t mean you can show up barefoot with a tank top and gym shorts though.
The best suggestion here is to show up to a place before 10:30 and you will probably never have to worry about such problems. Now, since we know that is unrealistic for most (I think I set out to be at whatever place I’m going to at 10:15 every time I go out and am very lucky if I ever get anywhere before 11:30) so there are a few measures you can take to get in to places without having to wait in line for 40 minutes.
1. Bring Girls! Nothing speeds up the process of getting in if you are with girls, especially good lookings ones. If you have an outgoing flirty one in the group have em run up to the bouncer and see if they can finagle something for your group. Who knows, maybe you and your compadres can all skip the line.
2. Get on the guest list. Most clubs and bar/clubs have people who you can call during the week to get on a list so maybe you can get in the accelerated line (not always the case) and even save a few bucks on cover. Very nice!
3. Know people! Be social when you go out, you never know who you will meet, maybe befriend a bouncer at your favorite spot or even a promoter. Especially since it is the promoter’s job to make make sure the club they promote for stays full. If you know someone working at a spot you will almost undoubtedly be able to walk right up to the front and get in even if there is a line.
Other Ratings Breakdowns
Here I will explain the ratings system we use to break down each place to make the ratings and where we are coming from is a little bit easier to understand.
1. Cover Charge – This is pretty self explanatory as far as during peak hours what places usually charge so you can get in the door but it goes a little bit deeper with some places. First off, depending on the anticipated crowd on a given night at a venue, the cover charge can fluctuate. For instance sometimes if some sort of event is going on at a bar or club, or there is going to be a celebrity appearance, they might jack up the cover charge a little. For example there is a very popular Boston area place which has a few very popular nights each year, and the line starts to go around the corner at about 10 and they jack up the cover from $20 to $40 (ouch!) On the other hand, if you know this is going to happen at a venue or you can somehow anticipate it, you can show up say at 8:30-9 and they might not even be charging cover yet so you could save yourself 40 bangers (it is a recessions folks.) So the moral of the story, if you have your heart set on going to a certain spot, show up early so you don’t have to sit in line for an hour.
2. Crowd – With experience, and after going out in Boston for a little while, you can start to predict this pretty easy by even looking at the pictures of a place and knowing its location. For instance, most places in Faneuil and the southern border of Faneuil (upper financial district) usually attract a tad bit of a younger crowd. Most of the places play music, and people do dance at most of them, but they are not clubs by nature. They are more considered bars. Bars near predominantly college student-laden area (Mission, Allston/Brighton, BC) will tend to be those more of a dive bar atmosphere and will have an average age of 21-26. If the venue you are looking at is a hotel lounge or bar, you can expect an extremely mixed crowd of business people, cougars (looking to rope up the rich businessmen (prenups gentlemen)) and other chic, upscale folks. Clubs or dance spots will undoubtedly attract more of an offwhite crowd. If you don’t understand what I’m sayin, since most white people feel uncomfortable being at a dance spot, mostly, Latino, black, Asian, Indian and Eastern Europeans. There are the live music bars, the sports bars (Near the Garden and Fenway) which have mixed crowds but tend to have beer thirsty, jersey wearing sports fanatics at these places. Some other categories are restaurant/bar hybrids, Irish Pubs, and club/lounge hybrids.
3. Atmosphere – This just explain what the inside of the bar layout is like and what it looks like inside. The point is to give the reader a visual of what it looks like and the feeling it gives off so they can visualize it and see if it would be a place they would be interested in visiting.
4. Music – This can also vary depending on places switching up DJs, or what a DJ feels like playing on a given night. I think it is basically impossible to please everyone when it comes to music because people have such specific tastes in music. It is very easy to generalize what type of music is played at certain venues though. Either there is live music, jukebox, radio DJ’s, hip hop dance DJ’s or techno dance DJ’s. A radio DJ to me is someone who plays “please everyone” music. They will play what mostly you would have heard on the radio in the 80s, 90s or present top 40. They do not base their music on being able to dance to it, they base it on girls getting excited and screaming when their favorite song from ’96 comes on or some guy being able to sing along with the theme of Fresh Prince or some timeless song. Hip hop dance DJ’s play the most current hip hop and reggae that actually has rhythm that the patrons can dance to, especially with another person. A techno dance DJ is the same but they play more electro, house, techno or whatever else (first pump music) for the patrons to dance to.
5. Guy to Girl Ratio – This is another one of those arbitrary ratings that can obviously sway one way or another from night to night. Think about it logically though for a moment. Bars and dive bars, tend to have more of a guy heavy crowd because most groups of girls that go in to Boston don’t get together and say. hey lets put our jeans and t-shirts on and go out to a bar and drink Budweiser. Most girls want to dress up, look pretty and drink mixies and dance the night away with their friends. So you will notice that at the more upscale spots and dancing places, there tends to be more females. Consider yourself schooled.
6. Promotions – Deals such as dollar draft, pizzas or 25 cent wings, or any other deals to attract people in to a venue.
7. Industry Night/Good Weekday Night – These are not always easy to find, but some off-peak nights, certain venues will have an “industry night.” If you are not familiar with these industry nights, they are when all of the bartenders, bouncers, cocktail waitresses, barbacks and managers at other bars that need to have a social life too will go to certain places and basically celebrate their “weekend” which just so happens to fall during the week.
8. My Opinion – This is probably the most important thing to read in the ratings because here we tell what we thought of the bar or club we rated and what type of person we think will like it.