Top 10 Tips for Social Climbers

When breaking into a new social scene, it’s easy to be dazzled by the free booze and the canapés. Let’s face it: miniature food is an impressive culinary achievement (Just how small are the chefs who make mini hotdogs?) and a subsidised session towards oblivion is almost too hard to refuse.

Social climbing has been both the making breaking of many a debutante; the phenomenon of becoming the bright young thing and then a slide to mediocrity, relegated to the discard pile of (im)polite society, both seemingly overnight. Lohan, much? It’s the folly of youth (and some of their elder counterparts) that appearing on guest lists equates to success, though, one thing everyone should recall is that free champagne just doesn’t pay the bills.

While it is possible to survive at least six months on a diet of canapés alone (this was tried and proven in my early twenties when nightclubs were my first home and the place where I paid rent was merely a place to bathe), hobnobbing only pays social dividends. There’s a fine line between being seen and being scene, and it’s one line that should be towed like a Roman sandal. Being the life of the party is admirable, but being the village drunk is only sought by those who reside under bridges.

Here are our top ten tips to social climbing with class.

1. Say ‘no’. Receiving an invitation is exciting when starting out, but at that stage, the ability to discern an event worthy of attendance from a complete fizzer is yet to develop. Product launches can be fun if the product is in the least bit interesting or comical, parties for party’s sake are excellent if they occur towards the end of the week and nightclub openings are always worth checking out if only for the people watching. However, tread carefully. Be selective about which you choose to attend, for you don’t want to become known as someone who would attend the opening of a wound. We all know the serial offenders and no one likes to be that guy.

2. Arrive on time. There’s fashionably late and unfashionably late, but these days, fashionably early is what the party pros are doing. You see, the social photographers—at least those from the publications that matter—are there to do their jobs in the quickest time possible so they can get to their next engagement of the evening before going home and making a cup of tea. Alas, attending parties five nights a week is considered work for some, and when your office is the event circuit, you treat it as you would a job—get the heck out of there as soon as possible.

3. Refuse some photos. You are responsible for your personal brand and being the person in every third photo at a party makes you look like a desperado. If you chase the lens like a crackie does their dealer, you’ll make quite the reputation for yourself as someone not to photograph. Always ask where the image is going to go and pose for a maximum of three shots. If you’re in several photos, it gives the impression that there weren’t many guests at the party, which in turn renders you a loser for attending a dud event. Hello, Z list.

4. Don’t be photographed with a drink or a cigarette in your hand. Like foul language reads more confronting on paper than it does when spoken, booze and fags give the impression that you’re a tasteless lush. Hide your glass or cigarette behind your back when the lens is in front of you, and if an unflattering image is uploaded to social media, untag it immediately.

5. Stick to small food. Cocktail parties are for schmoozing and boozing and shouldn’t be considered a source of a free meal. Canapés stave off supreme drunkenness and should be big enough to pop into your mouth discreetly in one or two bites. While food served in bowls or takeaway boxes might seem appealing, they prove cumbersome when juggling a napkin and a most likely a drink. If you do need something more substantial, find a place to sit and eat like a civilised person, then rejoin the party after your last mouthful, not during.

6. Dress appropriately. They say you can never be too dressed up, though, if an event takes place at 6pm and you’re clothed for a black tie event, it suggests you’re unemployed and have too much free time. Dress smartly for the event and as though you haven’t gone to any effort. And remember: Those who wear a colour other than black are most likely to be snapped by those who matter.

7. Choose your company wisely. After some turns on the party circuit, you’ll soon learn who’s who in the social zoo. Alas, this is by trial and error and you’ll likely encounter a trashbag close-talker with beer breath and projectile food debris. Run away. Of course, breaking into a light jog is frowned upon, but often excusing yourself to use the facilities should suffice. No one likes a Debbie downer.

8. Keep yourself nice. While it’s tempting to hit the open bar with gay abandon, remember that the higher the blood alcohol level the messier you’ll look. Check on yourself in the mirror whenever you make your way to the restroom, have a non-alcoholic drink for every one or two alcoholic beverages and whatever you do, don’t get stoned. People with droopy Snoop Dogg eyes make for hilarious post-event fodder.

9. You can refuse the gift bag. Gift bags often provide wonderful spoils, but taking them can be more troublesome than the contents are worth. Surreptitiously spy what’s contained within when others more gauche pull them apart publicly, and if it looks like a bag of advertising material and dodgy haircare, give it a sidestep. If you’re planning on heading out after, think about how you’ll have to transport and if it’s a too-hard case, politely decline.

10. Leave early. Most events that matter take place on school nights, so you must remind yourself of this when you take your fifteenth glass off a waiter’s tray. There’s always a bunch of trashbags who have to have it pointed out to them that everyone else has gone home, so make sure you’re not one of them. When a round of bottled water is distributed, that should be your cue to leave if you haven’t already. Remember: There are plenty of other bars with liquor, you just might have to put your hand into your own pocket to continue. Quelle horreur!

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