I received a message from a nightclub promoter in London this week. After digesting it and looking back at my time in the nightclub business throughout my twenties, I felt inspired to write this blog. This blog is about myths.
Human history suggests that we have no natural instincts for cooperating with large numbers of people we don’t know. For millions of years we lived and died in small bands or groups. Consequently, there have never been any instincts for mass social cooperation. To make up for that, humans have to rely on all kinds of imagined realities (myths) that regulate our existence.
Two Catholics that don’t know each other can nevertheless work together to raise money to build a hospital because they both believe that God was incarnated in human flesh and allowed Himself to be crucified to redeem our sins. Powerful myth creation.
Two British men that do not know each other may risk their lives to save one another because they both believe in the existence of Britain, British people and the Union Jack. Powerful myth creation.
Two lawyers can combine efforts having not met each other before to defend a complete stranger because they both believe in the existence of laws, justice and human rights. Powerful myth creation.
More importantly of course, lawyers are unified in their agreement of the money that is paid out in fees! Money is the greatest myth, transcending language, religion and belief systems. All 4 corners of the world know the intrinsic value of the US Dollar, and can trade with it. Osama Bin Laden hated the west with a passion, but he loved the US dollar…
McDonald’s Corporation, the publicly listed entity of the global Burger Chain, is not connected physically to McDonald’s Restaurants UK Ltd, the company that owns the UK franchises. Mcdonald’s globally employs over 1 million people and sells 76 Burgers every second. Insane metrics. However, if McDonald’s Restaurants UK Ltd was to cease trading, that company would vanish immediately. No staff in the UK would die, they would go and get another job. McDonald’s Corporation would continue to benefit from the sale of Burgers, although worryingly sales may drop to 70 a second instead.
In 13th century France, hard working Jean would set up a shop building and selling Wagons. If a Wagon he sold broke down, and his client David wanted a refund on his 100 Gold Coins, Jean would either find the money, or sell his animals, his land or his house. If he couldn’t do that, he would go to prison and likely be enslaved to his creditor David for life. That system doesn’t exactly encourage entrepreneurship does it? And so the complex system of limited liability companies was created out of nothing. These days, Jean would set up Jean’s Wagons Ltd, and tell David to sue the company if things went wrong. He would retain his animals, house and land. Business became an exciting proposition without the threat of prison, posing no real personal danger. Myth.
Anyway, back to nightclubs…
Recently there has been some reports in the press about a club promoter in London that was texting prospective customers things like ‘no fat girls allowed’ etc. Whilst it’s an abhorrent strategy, this is a form of low level myth creation. The marketing model being that the more people that believe that there are no ‘fat girls’ in the club, the more rich males will turn up to spend mythical money on their credit cards to attempt to entice the supposedly aesthetically pleasing women that they have been promised by the promoter. All this unfolds in a darkly lit square room that has been turned into a space called a nightclub, where people drink alcohol, take drugs, listen to music and frequently lose their minds. A spider’s web of myths. We love it though, don’t we? Some do anyway.
Well, I received a message from another quite similar club’s promotional girl. It wasn’t a note to tell me that 33 year old slightly overweight Jewish men were not deemed appropriate for her party. It was an open and friendly invite for me to come down with a few friends. Ironically, had the message subject header been ‘Here’s a party you won’t be able to get into this week because you’re a slightly overweight 33 year old Jewish businessman’, it might have got me more interested. I may even have enquired about table availability. If 33 year old slightly overweight businessmen (Jewish or otherwise) aren’t welcome, it sounds like the kind of place I’d consider partying. She missed the trick.
Anyway, this particular club has spent the last 2 years in the myth creation stage of their development. Actively not letting people into their club, telling people they will not get in, creating the imagined reality that everyone in the whole world wishes they could get in, but can’t. The problem for them is, as soon as they press send on that first invitation to a stranger like me, the myth has been exposed. Word will spread like wildfire that the club isn’t hot anymore, and of course, after a few months of everyone being let in (ironically a time when the club actually makes some profit) nobody will want to go there again.
The owner effectively sees the rather alarming ‘Game Over – Insert Coin To Continue’ message flash in front of his eyes.
In nightclubs especially, who wants to go anywhere that anyone can go? Who wants to have anything that anyone can have? We want stuff we’re told we can’t have. We want stuff nobody else can supposedly get. Call it romantic commercialism and the one’upmanship mindset of modern homo sapiens. Not everyone, but a significant percentage of people, are in this bracket. It’s not attractive, but it’s coordinated strategically and it’s monetised all day every day all over the world by brands.
The luxury market relies on people buying into myths, validating their existence, success and sense of self by spending 5 grand on a supposedly exclusive Chanel handbag, 10 grand on a table in a supposedly VIP nightclub, 0r 20 grand on a supposedly sought after Rolex. Are these the successful people? Or are the successful people the ones that haven’t bought into what are effectively imagined realities?
Great marketeers are masters at creating stories and convincing large amounts of people to believe them. The more people that believe it, the more momentum and power is generated. Suddenly, it becomes the norm.
The truth is, myths make the world go round.
Thanks for reading.