Look around you. There’s an energy sweeping through the city streets, searching for a release valve. For the last year and change, New Yorkers have been cooped up in their apartments with limited options to satiate a social appetite. Now that the restrictions on nightlife are being lifted though, pent-up partiers are swarming to favorite hot spots in droves looking for the night out they’ve been daydreaming about since March 2020 - if they can get in.

After a year’s worth of closures and more people than ever looking for a night out, it’s harder than ever to get into the it-bars and clubs in Manhattan. It's up to the gatekeepers of these haunts, those standing in the threshold between another night of Netflix and clinking cocktail glasses with friends, to curate the perfect group for every night, ensuring that the experience inside lives up to the venue's reputation.

Wondering what you can do to get their coveted stamp of approval? We sat down with the top tastemakers of downtown nightlife to learn exactly how to catch their eye.

[Photos by Parker Calvert]