The Exposed Strange Rituals of Super-Rich Partying

“From my position, the crowd seemed huge, probably a thousand people. Nearly everyone had a drink.

Ashley Mears describes this scene. It could be anywhere: New York City, Los Angeles or Monaco. It doesn’t matter where you are located. Add spending to a scale never before seen and you will have all the hallmarks for the global party circuit of super-rich.

Mears’s new book, “Very Important People”, focuses on the amount of spending. How, why, and even how can a millionaire spend more than $100,000 or even $1,000,000 at one nightclub in a single evening?

This is not only extraordinary behavior, but it also takes place in a world that is strictly closed to the public. Global party circuit is the place where 0.1% can have fun with each other but not everyone else. This extreme waste is not visible anywhere else. Until now.

Ashley Mears, model-cum-academic, was able leverage the former to fuel the latter. She partied like a “girl” from Cannes to Los Angeles.

In this case, a “girl” is defined as “young” (typically 16 to 25 years old), thin, and tall (at minimum five feet nine with heels and at least six feet with them). They are usually white, but not always.

Promoters often hire girls to be models or Instagram influencers. Mears may even go along with them for research. Clubs pay promoters to take girls to big parties. Millionaires and billionaires flock to clubs that have girls as members. Then comes the spending.

The stories of people spending so much that they almost drown out Mears’s careful ethnography. It is not easy to get rich people spending. Mears says that the best way to understand billionaire spending is to compare him with a tribal leader.

Franz Boas, an anthropologist, coined the term “potlach” when he was studying 19th-century tribes in the Pacific Northwest. Potlaches are a form of competitive gifting where tribal chiefs would give “gifts exceedingly rich” to their guests in order to increase his rank or title. These rituals could include breaking canoes and burning items to demonstrate one’s worth.

Mears argues that the rich are no different. Spending on champagne and VIP tables can lead to a host losing a lot of wealth, but gaining recognition from his peers. Champagne or canoes: It’s the same.

This ritual of the wealthy has led to a whole industry being created. Businesses can profit from this insecurity by hiring champagne houses and promoters. This is the genius part.

Billionaire Partying: The Secret Business Behind It

Have you ever wondered why VIP areas are treated better than others in clubs? (Or, if you don’t know why, check it out next time you get into a club.

It’s a spectator sport. If everyone can see that you are spending ridiculous amounts of money on your night out then what is the point? That’s at least the reasoning of the wealthy.

Champagne houses also produce large bottles with glow in the dark labels and names such as Nebuchadnezzar because they know that this is what champagne houses do. They are usually carried by pretty girls and adorned with fireworks. This is called a “bottletrain” and the entire ceremony is intended to give recognition to the buyer. This isn’t attention-seeking, but attention-buying at a high cost.

If there are two large spenders, or “whales”, as they are called in clubs, they are placed at VIP tables opposite one another in the hope that their huge egos will fuel an extravagant spending war and a healthy bar tab. Mears notes that champagne bottles have become “the idioms for rivalry”. One instance occurred in 2012 when whole champagne bottles was lobbed by Drake and Chis Brown, resulting in multiple injuries.

The girls are more important than any of this. A table full of bottles is one thing. But what makes someone stand out in a club or on social media afterward? The girls around them. Mears notes that clients are less likely spend when they are surrounded with mere civilians. This refers to the club lingo for those who are neither wealthy nor pretty.

Mears calls this “girl capital.” These girls are not meant for friendship or sex, but rather “girl capital” is where real estate broker Jonas and Dre could host parties with chief executives. Donald and other clients leveraged girl capital to obtain invitations to parties that could lead to financial enrichment deals.

Girls become a currency that allows them to enter clubs, have a place at dinner parties, and invites to yacht parties. Billionaires trade with girl capital in a world where money is not an issue. Mears discovered 20 girls in a Hamptons house so that their host could “assure a steady stream” of invitations to the Hamptons’ most exclusive parties.

Mears says that the girls are not impressed by spending sprees. They have access to an exclusive world, but they don’t have to pay. In an interview with Mears, Nora says, “It’s being in a group of friends and having someone tell me, ‘You are beautiful.’ So you don’t need to pay anything.”

The Global Party Circuit Today

This is beyond being, quite frankly, strange and oddly appealing. Why does it matter? Who cares that billionaires spend their hard-earned or not hard-earned money on useless extravagances. Let them.

We should. However, we need to be concerned that these spendings are hidden behind closed doors in nightclubs or offshore on yachts or islands. Whales don’t want anyone to know their secret spending habits. Mears says that “the men I interviewed were conflicted over such extravagance.” One man told Mears that he regretted the decision later: “It’s slow… You don’t know how many people in Africa you could feed and give water to.

They are confused because they see the consequences of such excess in a world of increasing inequality. Sociologically, this type of spending is taboo. This is more so than ever.

Covid-19 has made it more relevant. Lockdown has increased inequality because poorer households have lost their jobs and are forced to rely on savings. The rich are becoming more wealthy, which means that there is a lot of demand for parties, girls, and bottle trains, even among those who have missed a season.

A sudden return to pre-coronavirus global party circuit is the most bizarre thing. The rich might reexamine their bizarre rituals during this temporary pause. Their secret is now known.

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