By Lesley Abravanel
Q: My wife and I recently were in South Beach. In the evening, we walked along Ocean Drive. We noticed that in front of one of the nightclubs a crowd stood out front and two or three very attractive women chose who could come in. It seems that this method of selecting is or can be discriminatory. Do you know what safeguards South Beach has in place so that certain groups of people are not excluded from clubs that use this method of determining who can enter?
A: Club owners on South Beach prefer to use the word "selective" over "discriminatory." While I do agree that picking and choosing at the door is absolutely horrendous, obnoxious, elitist and, yes, discriminatory, there are absolutely no safeguards to prevent exclusion.
Most, if not all, clubs will either say a person is not dressed appropriately, or that it's too crowded inside and the fire marshals will be after them if they let more people in.
If you happen to be wearing a chartreuse shirt and that doorman/woman had a traumatic childhood incident involving the color chartreuse, you won't get picked. If you have one hair out of place and another door person is OCD and completely bothered by that wayward hair, you won't get in.
If you aren't an Olsen twin, you won't get in. Or you will get in. It's a lot like Vegas. The odds are stacked against you, but at the same time, you never know when you may get lucky. That is, if you consider being let past the velvet ropes into an empty club lucky.
Q: My boyfriend and I will be vacationing in South Beach. I'm 28 and he's 32, and we're from Birmingham, Ala., certainly not the most fashion-forward city in the U.S. What would be an ideal, fashionable look for each of us to ensure that we'll fit in when we visit some of the trendier SoBe dance clubs? We're both fit and attractive, with youthful appearances - we can wear pretty much anything.
A: First things first: If y'all want to be considered fashionable, please, please drop the "SoBe." It's South Beach. Amen.
Now that we've got that straight, let's start with the women first. While this writer hardly proclaims to be the arbiter of fashion, you must know that you should never wear a backless shirt even if you are Olsen-twin thin. It's tacky. Instead, you can always rely on that ubiquitous little black dress, although, when we say little, that doesn't mean so short our photographer will have to black out your privates.
A pair of jeans and a tank top or vintage T-shirt is a good bet as well, and, if all else fails, black pants and a cute top - not backless, remember - will work, too. As for the men, please leave your white tanks - more commonly known by the politically incorrect term "wife-beaters" - and gold chains at home. A pair of jeans and a button-down shirt is always a safe bet, and if you're really cool, try to pull off an edgier look with a T-shirt and jeans.
Unless you're Ashton Kutcher - and even he's put this fad behind him - leave the baseball/trucker cap at home, too.
Q: How much do table reservations cost on the average? Also, can you pay the bouncers at the door, and what would the proper way of approaching the doormen be without ticking them off?
A: Table reservations don't cost a thing, but by reserving a table you are committing to purchasing at least one (or more) overpriced bottles of liquor. The $20 bottle of Absolut you got yesterday at the local liquor store will cost several times that at a club table. High-rollers like to sit at tables and order countless bottles, not caring about the cost. Those who pretend they're high-rollers will gasp at the bill when they get it.
It's worth the price if you don't want to deal with standing room only in a crowded club and would like to get your drink on ASAP. It's not worth it if you're just doing it to feel special.
Most often, those who reserve tables just for appearances are looked down upon, anyway. And whatever you do, do not try to pay off the bouncers. Most of them get offended by it, and the ones who take the money will only be doing you the disservice of letting you into a lame place anyway.
Hot young hopefuls try their luck on South Beach. Photo: David Bergman