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Better Bouncers

Meet the men who control the guest list – and the velvet rope

Countless revelers have slipped into their finest and headed out on the town, only to be stymied by three feet of velvet rope—and the brute controlling it.

But with spending down post-recession and more clubs than ever competing for customers, something unexpected has happened: The once-fearsome bouncer has become, well, nice.

“Ten years ago, barking at people was the norm,” says Dave Ferruolo, who works the door at Miami’s STK. “Clubs have realized that we need to value each and every customer. They want to feel like they’re welcome.” And if you want someone to order bottle service, not berating him is a good way to start.

While not everyone is going to get past Jack Kennedy, a former Army officer who runs security at L.A. boîte Rock & Reilly’s, the people he refuses are seeing a much softer side. “Now you turn down people with humor, or get them to laugh a little bit,” he explains. “You tell them to come back.”

Getting turned away at the toughest doors might be a little less painful these days, but even a gentle letdown still doesn’t sit well. As Eddie Bilowich, of Manhattan’s notoriously selective 1-OAK, says, “Doormen can be as nice as they want, but they will still be perceived as jerks.”

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