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April 27, 2010

Do Vegas handshakes happen at Baltimore bars & clubs?

in all seriousness, here is the real caption to the photo: Moscow  welcomes the first Millionaire Fair, a kind of one-stop shopping mall  for the rich. This tuxedo, made of real  American  dollar  bills, was  part of a matching set of formal wear fashioned out of paper money. Earlier today, Midnight Sunner (and local bar owner) Jason Zink came to me with a curious question:

Are there any places in Baltimore where the security or the host gets their palms "greased?

When I lived in Vegas, it was part of the dining experience.  In order to get into the club or a quicker table at the restaurant, I would put a $20 bill in my palm and shake the doorman's host's hand.

As a D-list local celebrity, people grease my palm all the time.* But are there a lot of Vegas handshakes at local bars and clubs? There have to be.

Where, though? ...

Leaving your bartender a huge tip at the beginning of the night isn't the same thing, either. Tipping doesn't count -- whether it's the valet or the server. Jason's talking about sly bribery to get into a club, or to get a table at a restaurant.

How much would you have to tip someone here? If Jason slipped people in Vegas $20, would you only have to slip someone a $5 here? Maybe I should try that with the hostess at Charleston or Tio Pepe.

Have you ever done it, or heard about someone doing it?

*In case anyone from upper management happens to read this post, no, I have never taken a bribe in exchange for coverage. That was a joke. Yuk yuk yuk.

(Baltimore Sun archive photo of Sam Sessa's Saturday evening money suit. Dolla dolla bills, ya'll)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:37 AM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


oh - maybe I can get into to milan now...

I've come close to doing it several times, although it's always been to make unpleasantries go away.

I learned A LOT about bribery when I was in Africa. Some places have a bribery culture, fortunately, Baltimore doesn't.

We only accept bribes in Euros.

Because taking a bribe would be a BAD DECISION!

I think it's stupid to pay a cover at any establishment in Baltimore. No club/party/bar is that cool. If you are paying a cover, that means you will be paying money to hang out with Ed Hardy or Johnny Affliction. If you are paying extra money to get into Milan, Merrit Athletic Club Aqua, Mist or Mosaic, you are a complete tool. Think about it really, people pay $10/$20 to hang out by a gym pool. Ha, "Tool by the Pool". I nominate that as the official Aqua party slogan.

I don't have to pay to get in most clubs but if I have a crew with me I may need to grease to get them past the dress code and escorted in "without security approach". I know it sounds bad but let's say you're hanging with Katt Williams and you want to get into a spot on the block, etc. More often than not I just tell the folks "I got you" and take care of them on a smoke break.

I agree it's against my personal code of ethics to pay any cover charge anywhere. That Merritt Pool stuff is hilaroius

I really want to get Snookie-fied and go to Club Aqua just to observe the ridiculousness. People watching is my fave.

I did it once a long time ago just for the thrill of doing it. I forget where. It went off without a hitch. The key is to fold the bill into eighths so that it is a small square. Position it between the pinkie and index fingers, keep your palm down and shake the person's hand. It only looks cool if nobody sees the money. And don't be cheap. I know it's lame but it really is a minor thrill to do.

Just want to state for the record...

If live music is happening a cover from $5-$15 should be expected depending on who's playing. It's not fair to take a stand against all cover charges everywhere, because live, and especially touring bands need to be paid. That comes from door money.

But a no-name DJ with an iPod or two on a 'grown and sexy' night? yeah. That's not worth it.

I second Chop's comment.
A cover for a band is completely warranted and acceptable. They have to get paid and I dont mind it at all.
Usually, no, make that always; the band is the reason I am going to the establishment in the first place.

(I greased a "seating captain" in Atlantic City when I went to see a band. He sat us right up front. I felt so cool and hip hee hee)

"Tool by the pool"

I'm stealing true

I use the handshake approach to tip ushers at the stadiums if they take me to the set and wipe down the chair. I never ask for it, but sometimes when I spring for good seats at a game, its all part of the experience.

I don't like bribing for something, but I don't mind tipping when someone goes above and beyond (or the job is traditionally tipped). If I am tipping someone who I am not buying something from (like an usher or porter), the handshake seems like the best way to do it without making a show for the people around. Thats a total "pool tool" move.

If the greeter at Walmart wipes the handle of my cart with Purel, I'll tip them a shiny new dime.

A little late on the comments but what the heck...I agree that Aqua et. al. are not ideal but what do people in Bmore do? Is there a single place that actually is hip and good in your minds? Because after you eliminate these places where the tools by the pool hang out you are left with a bunch of crummy corner bars, brewers art, and a strip of 200 year old bars along Thames. And after going to them for the 3253 time in my life it's nice to go to something different, even if it isn't 1990's London.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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