I have this friend.
Whenever I see her, she tells me she did some crazy thing. Like held Beyonce’s purse while she puked at a Grammy party. Or was “backstage at Coachella” when “the craziest thing happened.” My personal favorite story she tells is about the time “got into Warped Tour without my mom.” But how?!
Inevitably, I ask how she got into these events. After all, while hilarious and very chill, she’s not a celebrity or high-level security clearance CIA operative. She’s not forking over hundreds of dollars for admission. She’s connected, but she doesn’t know everyone, everywhere. She’s just a muggle like you or me.
“Tell mama how you got into Andy Dick’s Valentine’s Day margarita mixer,” I asked her one day.
Turns out, she’s just an expert at sneaking into things. A savant of epic proportions. She’s snuck into concerts. Music festivals. Lady Gaga’s Grammy party. She’s probably even snuck into my house at one time and eaten all my crackers because I can’t find them.
Clearly, she’s armed with a wealth of knowledge, so I mined her for secrets. We sat down and she taught me everything there is to know about sneaking into an event, and I think we could all take a note or 30 from her about stealth-attendance. So, whether you’re in the mood to sneak in because you’re poor and can’t afford a ticket, or because you don’t know anyone, here are some ways you can slide by security (sometimes).
You’re really, really good at sneaking into places. What’s your secret?
Persistence. Don’t give up just because you didn’t get in the first time.
What kinds of events have you snuck into before?
1) Coachella (ayyy s/o to Molly).
2) This lavish private Grammy party. Might I add that I fit in the crowd very nicely with my Doc Martins …
3) Warped Tour (not too proud of this one).
5) LED NYE w/ Diplo & Friends (this one was the hardest one because I got escorted out but I had nowhere to go because all my friends were inside and so I just lingered outside of the door with five security guys watching me threateningly but you could hear the music still so I just danced and partied with the people that were leaving. The head of security loved my persistence and attitude so much that she ended up letting me in … 10 minutes before countdown … during Diplo dropping one of my favorite tracks. It was magical).
6) A lot of different venues in LA and the Midwest specifically.
What are three pieces of advice you’d give to people looking to sneak into something?
1) Make sure that you’re by yourself or at most, one partner in crime. The more people you are with, the bigger chances of getting caught. Also you don’t want anyone holding you back while you make dumb impulsive decisions!
2) Act like you own the place. Confidence is key! If you go into a festival or a venue looking scared or unsure, then you’re definitely a suspect.
3) Be nice to everyone you meet along the way but who knows, they could be your key way in.
What are some of the methods that work the best? What do you say to the bouncer or security?
I don’t know how to answer that question really… because I’ve never used the same tactic twice, which is also how I’m able to keep doing it. And the method totally depends on the event.
However, if there’s a bouncer or security, my advice is to believe whatever you say to them. If they prove you otherwise, then play dumb like “Sir, truly I don’t know what you’re talking about but all I know is that I really need to be in there in order to get my job done. There’s a lot riding on this and it’s VITAL that I be in there. You know what it feels like to have your job on the line right? Well this is it.” Definitely empathizing with security and getting on their level works wonders. You can’t act all indignant like you deserve to be in there just because you exist; you have to involve their emotions and get them to put themselves in your shoes.
But I can say the WORST method is hopping over fences.
Have you ever bribed somebody?
Yeah. To sneak into FYF, I went to the ATM and withdrew $40. I got one of the twenties changed, and left one whole. When I got to the festival, I walked all the way around to the back, like way, way, far away from where people were and no one was going in or out, and I said something nice and sweet to a security guard and handed him the money. It looked like a fat stack of cash because there was a whole $20 and then a bunch of smaller bills under it, but since they don’t want to be seen accepting cash, they won’t take the time to count it. He just put it in his pocket and let me through the gate. Honestly, most security people don’t give a fuck whether you’re inside or not unless you’re a.) an asshole or b.) their manager is watching them, so if they can make a little cash with no consequence for them, most will do it. It kind of sucked because I had to pay, but it was a shitload cheaper than a full-price ticket.
What about the press pass route?
I’ve heard a lot of people going in through a photo pass/credential. This is probably the best route. Just make sure you wear stupid wristband and plain black clothes and have a nice DSLR camera. Act quick and act like you need to get that SHOT RIGHT NOW RIGHT THEN. I’ve never done this before because I don’t want to haul a camera around, but I’ve heard of it working.
If you don’t have a camera, you’ll generally need an email for the publication you proclaim to work for. But most people checking this shit aren’t sure what every publication’s email addresses are, so you can make one up.
For example, if you want to pretend you’re from say, L.A. Record or something, you can make an email address that has a slight modification from their actual address like “you@thelarecord.”
You’ll also have to make up some bullshit about what type of coverage you want or what kind of article you’re going to write or who you want to photograph and where the photos will be published.
Once you’re in, how do you act to make it seem like you were supposed to be there?
Smile and have fun and just be stoked that you’re now a part of the experience. You risked getting in trouble with the law for this so do the most to make it all worth it. The less of an asshole you are, and the more relaxed you look, the less security is going to take the time to confront you.
Have you ever been kicked out for sneaking in? What’s the worst that can happen if you get caught?
I wouldn’t saw that I got kicked out … but I was escorted out and then eventually found my way back in (see above). The worst that can happen is that you just won’t be let in the place ever again. Basically banned for life. But if you have illegal shit on you then obviously you’re going to get in trouble with the cops so don’t do drugs, kids.
When you need a wristband for a place, how do you get around that issue?
See if you have a friend that has a friend that can slip off their wristband and hand it off to you. If there’s no ins and outs, then make sure you find an artist wristband because they usually will allow that.
When and how did you discover you had this amazing talent? Who taught you this skill?
It’s not really a skill … it’s mainly just karma. Just be good to everyone and good things will happen to you. There’s been tons of times when I got rejected but hey, if it’s not meant to be it’s not meant to be! Sometimes you just have the feeling that you belong at that place and when you feel it, you’ll do just about anything to be there.
Obviously you need a lot of confidence, or at least false confidence, to sneak into a festival or a party. How do you get yourself in the right mind frame?
There’s always such an adrenaline rush that comes with it. Just think to yourself, what’s the worst that can happen if I don’t try?