400 Dates

Confessions of a club promoter

Photo by James BunoanIn a second-floor office building on Production Place in Newport Beach, four handsome twentysomething men stop what they're doing and call every girl they know. They move away from their desks and stretch out on sleek, black leather furniture. Sitting beneath borrowed paintings of the cast of TheO.C.,they begin dialing.

Across the office one man counts a pile of $100 bills from his desk while he waits for a girl's voicemail. Another takes his conversation outside, spilling honey-covered words across the office floor as he moves downstairs.

Given the long list of phone numbers the team has collected over the years from mostly beautiful, mostly female, Orange County clubbers, this job will take several hours to complete. Yet they do it every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Such is the life of club promoters Dave Doyle, Matt Meddock, Gene Braizele and Dave McMillan—the "Social Group," as they have called themselves for nearly three years.

"I have 400 people in my phone," says Meddock. "And I care about every one of them. It's my job. I'm in the business of one big customer service."

The members of the Social Group have thrown some of the biggest parties in Orange County. Night to night they do what they can to enhance the party experience for Orange and Los Angeles county clubbers.

"I have in the palm of my hand access to anything and everything they want," Meddock says about his seemingly endless connections to such resources as cheap booze, VIP rooms, DJs, fire-breathers and midgets-for-hire.

Today, however, is a bit different. The men are setting up their newly rented office while preparing for the biggest party of the week: Thursday night at the Sutra Lounge in Costa Mesa. Doyle reminds everyone that Sutra's management wants a larger female clientele.

"Only call the girls! Don't call any dudes!" he yells at Meddock, who has diverted his attention from phoning to hanging the office artwork.

"When we're inviting girls to party, we basically promise them a good time. We try to take care of their needs," says Doyle, who remains on his headset all day and switches seamlessly from speaking to his coworkers in the office to flirting with the girls on the other end of his earpiece.

Doyle reassures the group it won't take long: "I've been calling for a couple of hours, and I'm already at the K's!"

He suddenly turns to the window. His tone changes from hard-ass businessman to ladies' man as he makes his pitch into a girl's voicemail: "Hey babe, it's Dave. Just wanted to know if you were going to roll out to Sutra tonight?"

When Doyle turns back, Meddock promises that, by 5 p.m., he'll call every girl in his phone. He walks out of the room and toward the bathroom, a portrait of Eminem and a hammer in hand.

For the Social Group, even the artwork is smart business. Each month, the men swap out loaned artwork to feature new local artists.

"It was my idea," says Braizele, looking at the dozen or so paintings yet to be hung in the brightly painted, Ikea-furnished office. "Our office is half a gallery."

By keeping their workspace as quasi-art studio, it remains updated and impressive for clients without spending a dime. "I like to have new things to look at," says Braizele. * * *

At 3:30 p.m. a techno-salsa mix is playing in the background. Meddock is lying on the couch, giggling to a girl over the phone. Across the office, Braizele and Doyle count the Benjamins.

Across two desks, several small stacks of $100 bills are piled next to random lists of email addresses, receipts and paperwork. Nothing is organized. Everything has to be repeated, remembered and re-explained as they keep track of the money—they make anywhere from $9,000 to $25,000 per night.

It's money they're not shy to spend. While Braizele, who says he's "all about the money," boasts of his five cars, Doyle lives in a beachfront condo and plans on opening a Huntington Beach restaurant/nightclub. McMillan and Meddock share an apartment, but it's a niceapartment.

As the day winds down, Doyle deals with business calls of a different sort. Several times he gets up from his desk and goes outside to engage in heated conversations over canceled parties for Olympic Track athletes, unfair payment, ex-girlfriends.

At one point, Doyle is heard explaining to someone on the other end of his cell phone that he didn't receive his fair share for a Los Angeles party.

"We brought in 1,000 people that night and got $24,000 for it. Management brought in 500 people and got $23,000 . . ." His voice trails off as he walks from room to room, struggling to remain diplomatic.

Doyle, 24, has been throwing parties since he was in high school. "I used to throw backyard parties with 600 to 700 people. They'd start around 8:30 and get broken up around 11," he remembers. "But when I realized most of my friends were 18, I decided to take it to a club."

Not old enough to drink, Doyle pitched his idea to a local bar owner. "I'm nice," he says to explain the owner's cooperation. Within three weeks he was bringing 750 people to a place with a capacity of 350.

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