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How To Crash A Party (nevblog.com)
180 points by bretthardin 2071 days ago | hide | past | web | 61 comments | favorite

So you were dishonest and bragged about it in a blog post with your name and picture. Some of the very people you tricked may even be reading it now that it made the front page of Hacker News.

You'd think that you would have learned something after spending so much time with so many successful people. Apparently not.

After reading this article, I sat for some time and pondered whether I should come to the same conclusion. It's not as if he didn't leave that as a possible reaction and one he was aware many would adopt.

I concluded that he is a hacker who is eternally curious and likes to figure out the dynamics of unknown systems by jumping in to them and doing experiments on the systems in real time. This is an effective and efficient method of developing understanding through the use of the scientific method.

If he used this attribute of curiosity, analysis, and control over fear to make a career of defrauding people then I would conclude he was a criminal, such as the folks who are using the trust people place in software developers to steal people's address books. But he is not at that point, this is not a career, but rather an experiment. At this point.

On the other hand, I am certain though that if these practices become widespread at all there will be a crackdown that will make events less pleasant for all. Therefore, although I enjoyed this article I believe his most significant sin here is publicizing these methods as something for others to emulate. There can be no outcome to this except to increase the amount of surveillance and suspicion in the world. Better to keep such youthful escapades as a story told to friends and family.

There is nothing substantial or worth mentioning there - these little tricks have been very well known for a very long time...

I have to disagree, kindly of course. Since I don't know the gentleman, anything I say has to be taken with that in mind.

Most of us come here to laud and admire our fellows that are tenacious and ingenious enough to invent, create, market, sell, or hack their way to success. This fellow has done no different.

As he says near the beginning of the article, he knew where he wanted to be but didn't have the resources or connections to get there. So he figured out a way to achieve those goals. This is the epitome of what I love about hackers.

I also don't see a problem with his talking about it publicly. His intention wasn't to spend his entire life sneaking into parties. It was to make connections with people that would let him do things he'd be unable to otherwise. Assuming that he's done that, then talking about how he got to where he is now is perfectly fine.

I'll say that his style of writing does come off with a certain tone of braggadocio, but otherwise its an interesting and well written account.

I don't think this party crashing has brought him significantly closer to his success goals. Not once did he give an example of a time he was able to successfully leverage a new connection to his benefit. He basically name dropped a handful of famous people that he met one time, but that's it.

The only benefit I see is that he's actively stepping out of his comfort zone. This is valuable, however, it's at the cost of charity. There are better ways to go about exercising this character trait.

I've seen it work for him in person in Austin about 7 years ago. I think (some) local entrepreneurs value his gusto. His reasons seem different than party crashers from DC, he just does extraordinary things to be able to talk to successful people.

That said, most people will not be able to replicate.

> he knew where he wanted to be but didn't have the resources or connections to get there. So he figured out a way to achieve those goals.

I want to have a hundred million dollars. I think I can figure out a way to achieve that goal easily…

That's an absurd stretch of course, but the analogy holds. The end does not justify the means. Crashing a party for fun is harmless (and pointless), but basing your professional life on deceit won't do you any good.

> Most of us come here to laud and admire our fellows that are tenacious and ingenious enough to invent, create, market, sell, or hack their way to success. This fellow has done no different.

The overwhelming difference is: the real hackers who are actually successful actually created something while he got to talk to some people he religiously admires (creepy) and he found a way to get free booze. Wow, what a success story!

That got me right off the bat. He spends all this time crashing parties to rub elbows with who he wants to be and he didn't talk about anything he accomplished as a result, save for the rush of going where he wasn't supposed to be and the free drinks.

"But making certain connections"

I was really confused that he'd state this and provide his real name. I can see him crashing for the lolz or general social practice, but I can't believe, in light of the post, that he is doing this to build connections.

Then again, there is something to be said just for getting your name out there. Plenty of people won't care about the ethical considerations.

I kind of agree, i felt a little weird about him sayong all that stuff with his full name behind it, but then i think back to all the clubs i snuck into as a teen and talked my way into once i was of age. In the clubs once security or the doorman vouches for you you're golden so the trick is to know the staff well. Then when there's a pr company flack managing a tight ass door you've got support of the bouncers if you're not waved in by pr. I'd hate to see door crashing involve breaking any laws or hurting charities when it is so easy to attend a list events via befriending every doorman /bouncer in town on a text message basis. Cant say i have the energy for much of that anymore however. Once i hit 25 i started wanting to workin the day and party for my own enjoyment at night. Schmoozing 24/7 while also working on a project is exhausting

I actually admire the author's determination to try/test/throw himself at his crazy ideas! Just browsing his blog I can see that he has done a few experiments and I wish I could do the same with my ideas.

In the end it is just a guy who is hacking his way through life. Mistakes are part of the process.

This guy is definitely a hustler... but something doesn't sit right with me about crashing events for charity. Every drink or meal he consumes is money taken directly out of the charity's pocket. He tries to justify his unethical actions by saying that crashing these events will make him much more likely to become successful (rich), and therefore he'll be able to buy lots of charity tickets in the future.

Sorry dude, crashing parties and ripping off charities is not going to make you successful.

I hardly see how he's hurting the charity by doing this.

It's not as if he's depriving the charities of money because he would have paid the large admission fees if he wasn't doing this; he just wouldn't go. And his presence there is not causing the charity to spend any more money by hiring more staff. There is the real cost of the food and drink he consumes, but depending on how the event is catered, if there is food left over, then he's not effecting anything, and if there isn't food left over, he's taking money out of the other attendees' pockets, not the charity's.

In fact, maybe he contributed to an enjoyable experience for the other attendees, which will make them more likely to support that charity in the future.

Utilitarianism FTW!

This is the same fallacy that some people use about planes: "Traveling by plane doesn't result in more fossil fuels burnt because the plane would have flown anyway".

The way these things work is that after such an event the organizers assess whether there was enough food, and based on this they order food for the next event.

I guess you're right, it's a flawed argument. In fact, considering that I use exactly your argument to support/demand not eating meat, I guess it shows that I might just be going for a post hoc rationalization of actions that emotionally appeal to me in this case.

But just to play devil's advocate, might the charity decide that they want to take in a certain amount of money from an event and set ticket prices accordingly, thus passing the cost on to attendees? (The implication being that it's less ethically dubious to leech off of rich people than charities.)

Regarding the specific anecdote he gave: there was actually nowhere for him to sit down for dinner--so he never actually ate anything! (He did drink--or at least stand in line for such--though.) He would not have affected the "food consumed" post-hoc measurement.

Wow, nice common sense analysis of the cost of his attendance.

My point is that it's unethical. I realize it's not going to make or break the charity.

All the drink at an event like this will certainly be on sale or return[1] so everything he drinks comes direct from the charity's pocket.

[1] i.e. the charity brings in X bottles of champagne and lets it flow freely all night. At the end they return all unopened bottles, and only pay for what was drunk.

It's funny. These kind of guys think they're badasses, while in reality, to an attentive eye, they're the opposite: people with an attention seeking disorder.

Aside that the attention seeking is very obvious from the formatting of the text, the interesting thing is that he did really nothing special. Naturally, credits for getting the right attitude that let him enter, but for the rest, what he's describing is not different from a socially comfortable (skilled, for the nerds) person.

I agree with your last sentence. The post has a vibe that I've noticed from some more socially awkward/not-totally-self-aware people, where they'll go to an event that pushes their comfort zone (usually a party or a club), talk to some strangers, get in some mild antics, then later they'll report on it like it was this totally crazy, daring adventure they had.

To them it was totally out there. A more socially comfortable person may do the same kind of thing, but it feels normal to them and they don't see it as any kind of big deal or accomplishment.

Actually, what this blog post really reminds me of is a breathless 'Field Report' by a clueless but eager beginner in that whole Pick Up Artist subculture. I wouldn't be surprised one bit if the guy was into that stuff.

As a socially awkward person myself, that's what I liked from the article.

Also, the author is of Indian origin, being from Uruguay myself, I'd guess we might have more class/social status awareness; most wouldn't dare crash an Elton John party.

I also agree that he found out for himself some things that other subcultures had already found out, for example I think Kevin Mitnick says something about suits and the right attire in his book The Art of Deception, the Pick Up Artists probably say something of the sort, and many books and movies about scamsters also highlight it (Catch Me If You Can comes to mind).

people with an attention seeking disorder.

Not that I'm defending crashing high-security press functions with prime ministers, but when did seeking attention become a disorder? When will we stop calling the slightest deviation from an idealized median a "disorder?"

You may want to see a doctor. It's quite possible you have STCTD Disorder. (Sensitivity to calling things disorders)

I assume the author realizes that the term 'conman' is short for 'Confidence Man' which is a very, very, old gambit. One conman I knew told me that being a conman was the second oldest profession, because as soon as there were hookers there were guys who worked to convince the hookers that they didn't need to pay.

Of course these days we call them con-artists since the sex of the person is irrelevant. The motivation for being a con artist is the adrenaline thrill of knowing at any moment you can be 'caught out.' Sure that makes you feel alive, but when you are 'caught' you may not have broken any laws but you have really pissed someone off. When you shoplift from a store they call the cops to charge you, when you make someone feel stupid for having believed you, they call their friends to come over and beat the shit out of you.

Huh? I didn't see any mention of "conman". I hope you haven'tjust jumped from "walk with confidence" to "confidence man" to "conman".

Let's say he described this new fun activity of using pipes to route water around a building, and then using valves so that you could turn it on and off, and have it pop out of one pipe, get caught in a big bowl, and then go swirling down another pipe.

You would immediately recognize that he was talking about something the profession called 'plumbing' does every day. And while there are amateur plumbers, there are also many many professional ones.

Pretending you are something you are not, in order to gain the confidence of someone so that they will treat you in a way you would like to be treated, is a game of confidence. And some people do this to convince someone else to go out with them on a date, some do it for the 'lulz', and some do it to make a living,

Our intrepid author has 'tricked' people into thinking he belongs at a swank party and has 'robbed' the party of drinks and snacks. He talks about the thrill of getting away with it. And it is a huge thrill. But like plumbing the spectrum of 'con artist' goes from very small (taking candy from babies) to very large (taking millions from corporations). He tells himself its not really stealing (and the rationalizations are fine, there probably is more waste in the system than he is consuming) but he is making people believe something that is false.

My word of caution is that people who are very successful are often quite ruthlessly competitive, and finding out that they had been tricked into believing something that wasn't true, often gets translated into 'losing out'. That can trigger their competitive streak, and that can get your knees broken. Same is true for para-gliding or free-style rock climbing. Not good or bad, just is.

The conman hustle is not "the second oldest profession."

This is the second-oldest profession: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveying

I think it pretty obvious ChuckMcM was telling a humorous anecdote to support a point, rather than objectively evaluating the ages of various professions.

Where does it say second-oldest?

Besides being entertaining, some of these tactics could also be ethically and practically useful. How many times have you been made to feel uncomfortable being somewhere you had a right to be?

Maybe you really are meeting friends at an exclusive restaurant, but the host is eyeing you suspiciously as you walk in.

Maybe you left your conference badge at the hotel, but didn't realize it was required for the afterparty.

Maybe you were asked to speak at a meetup, but the doorperson is asking for $10 in pizza money even though you already ate.

Learning how to look and act like you own the place can save you confrontation, keep things running smoothly, and lead to the same kinds of awesome as in the article - without swindling any charities.

That's a good takeaway.

One of my mentors is the organizer of an invite-only meetup which I really wanted to go to, and while he did add me at the last second to the invite list, I didn't get a badge. I simply acted as if I belonged (which I did), and I got by security, into the afterparty, etc.

I do believe the blog author crossed the line, but I also feel it's forgiveable/acceptable as an experiment, but not as something repeatable.

This article is a bit dramatic. It's really easy to crash a party. You just walk in. Unless you are causing a problem, or you really don't look like you belong there, nobody will notice. As party crashing is sort of a pointless activity, not many people actually do it. Thus, parties aren't really prepared for it, and it's pretty easy.

I think a lot of time people do notice; they just don't care.

Regardless of whether or not these practices were ethical (I don’t think they were) or had a point (I don’t think they did), the article was a fun enough read. If that’s how this guy wants to get his kicks and meet new and interesting people (who seem to be interesting to him only because they have money), then that’s fine by me. But if I ever see him at an event I host, he’s getting kicked out whether he deserves to be there or not.

In my experience the best events to crash are art exhibit openings. You can do it with any attire (so long as you are the attire) and it's not hard at all to fake an appreciation for whatever art they may be showing.

Furthermore, the faster you drink the less people care about how you act. People at exhibit openings tend to get positively sloshed.

This is written with the rhythmic style and aggressively varied typography of ad copy.

Agreed, I honestly don't understand how it could be so well received on HN. Do you really need to use boldface <b>at the end of every sentence?</b> This article just seems like money-worshiping, social-climbing drivel.

Though I might not like what he did, I admire the skill itself, and more honest applications of it. Anyone who finds the article interesting should watch "Catch Me if You Can" a movie about a criminal who uses these techniques to steal money.

The book is also really good (didn't actually watch the movie)


I also enjoyed Kevin Mitnick's book The Art of Deception, also on "Social Engineering"/con artists.


i used to work in a movie theater in high school, same theory applies. you can actually walk right in without a ticket and no tricks, just confidence and a sense of entitlement. my coworkers would never stop people with the balls to do it and it happened many times.

walk close behind a group of at least 2 other customers. as their tickets are being ripped just keep walking past them at a normal pace, head facing forward, and without making eye contact. they will notice you but do nothing.

go ahead and try it with a legit ticket in your pocket you can show them if they do stop you.

I may not ever have the gumption to actually do something like this, but I'll say its admirable. At a base level, he's really mastered social engineering.

That is true. But social engineering is mostly about not caring about the consequences and looking exactly like you belong there.

Don't forget that you have to look the part as well. If you are dressed correctly, you can crash a party at the White House. http://articles.cnn.com/2009-11-25/politics/state.dinner.cra...


Lemon: Carol, what are you doing here? How did you get past security?

Carol: You walk briskly in a pilot's uniform, you can go pretty much anywhere. I've been upstairs at the White House while the Obamas were sleeping.


Love this sentence: Think about it, every event likes press coverage….and I was a quote on quote…“member of the press”!

Cheesy formatting, total misunderstanding of "quote unquote" - the use of quotation marks afterwards is priceless, and an attitude of having discovered and revealed some great secret which is in actuality a ploy so tired it has been in bad movies for decades. This guy is passing, right. Definitely a dancing monkey.

Come back when you've made and used your own grappling hook, dodged barbed wire using carpet samplers, hidden in a ditch for two hours and blended into a samba procession in order to save £180 to get into a music festival.

NB: Not all of the above were necessarily my exploits.

The funny thing is, if James Bond would do something similar in a movie, everybody would fall in love with the technique. But if somebody really breaks this down for you, it's wrong and "attention-seeking". As he says in the last part of the post, this is just another tactic of being scrappy and wanting to learn from other people. Why not use it for your advantage?

> The funny thing is, if James Bond would do something similar in a movie, everybody would fall in love with the technique.

Well, James Bond saves the world and doing something like sneaking into a party is probably a 2/10 on his list of skills. All this guy does is desperately seek attention, religiously look up to money and then he seeks more approval and attention about it online.

I found his characterization of the people getting paid to check tickets -- "I'm scared of Mr. Rich person" -- a bit naive.

Sometimes, doing things like this can get "blown way out of proportion": http://www.wtae.com/r/23653787/detail.html (The blog writer was arrested along with 2 others for breaking into Pittsburgh Steelers' stadium in 2010.)

If you found his party hacking admirable or maybe just entertaining, you'd probably like the movie, "Wedding Crashers":


So has anyone here crashed a conference or convention? I've wanted to but haven't for fear of someone recognizing me.

And why would you do that?

Presumably for the same reason that one would normally attend a conference or convention, except with the added benefit of being a few hundred dollars richer.

> HEY. Hey you. Studies show if you don't read NevBlog.com everyday, you might die

Really? Excellent! Because after reading that post, I will definitely never ever read that blog again on purpose, it makes me feel like dieing.

This so reeks of the same annoying "openess" and impertinence I have only come to experience from typically Indian and Pakistani hagglers on the street trying to lure you into their clothes store.

Congratulations, you played the monkey for an educated business crowd and they gave you attention. How surprising, educated and intelligent people are actually friendlier and forgiving than you thought! But still you were a dancing monkey, nothing more. You really feel proud of yourself?

Here is a hint: these people are getting approached by the likes of you ever single day, you really think they didn't see through your "genius" charade you came up with in 2 seconds? I think rich people can't stand anything less than people who talk to them just because they "admire" their wealth.

Your demeanor and actions very clearly show... you wouldn't stop at anything just to get some money and attention. You are the last person on earth I want to see coming into money because your borderline-religious fascination with it is dangerous and worrying.

> Often out of the ghettoness and scrappiness, emerges something more refined.

You are not ghetto nor do you accomplish anything actually pretty cool or worthwhile through shady means... you are just cheap and greedy. And you wrote a whole blog entry full of proof for that.

And all those "genius" methods of being a cheap, greedy wannabe and what do you have to show for it? You talked to a couple of people... congratulations.

you got to admit, the recording makes it like a fairy tale, i've done crashing parties (just for the free booze) and will do it in the future!

How to crash a blog.

How to crash a blog.

[link doesn't work]

Getting HTTP500. How to crash a webserver?

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