Orlando may not be known as a nightlife city on par with NYC or Miami – and believe us, anyone from those cities will talk your ear off about the differences – but our downtown clubs still attract hundreds of partygoers each week. Follow some of these tips to spare some cash and headaches when planning a night out on Orange Avenue.
Get your wristband early: Some clubs, like Independent Bar or Latitudes, only charge a cover after a certain time, usually 11 p.m. or midnight. If you know where you want to end up, go there first, get your wristband, then try out some of the smaller or cheaper places in the area for conversation and pregaming. You might just find a new favorite spot and end up staying there all night.
Kick off your night right: The main complaint people have about bigger clubs is high drink prices. If you're looking to get wasted, but also want to make your rent payment this month, pay attention to drink specials at bars other than your final destination. Sacrificing an hour to knock back dollar beers at Chillers instead of $7 cocktails at Vain should be a no-brainer – it's simple liquornomics.
Don't drive – take a party bus: If you live on or close to campus, whether UCF, Rollins or Full Sail, getting to the clubs is a hike. And if you're planning on drinking (shut up, we know you are), driving back is just a plain bad idea. Uber and Lyft may be cheap to take into downtown, but what about that 2:30 a.m. price surge that tends to happen on weekends? Take advantage of the several party bus services – Unforgettable Entertainment, Cast Party Bus, etc. – that transport students down Colonial Drive. Some of the bus fares even include drink tickets or club cover charges.
Pay attention to social media: Check the Facebook and Twitter accounts of the desired club earlier in the day. Sometimes they'll post offers for free drinks, guest list spots or other perks that save money. Vain offers free champagne for ladies in groups of five or more if you RSVP through their Facebook page, for example. Vain, Tier and Gilt are all worth adding to your follow list.
Bring cash: A good tip for life in general, you should always make sure you're carrying a little cash with you, especially on a club night. Want to let the bartender know that you're a good tipper in the hopes of getting prioritized service? Cash on the bar conveys that a lot faster than starting a tab. Feel like dipping with your new date? If you've been paying in cash, you don't have to wait to run your card. Someone in the bathroom offers to sell you party favors? Drug dealers don't take plastic.
Invest in a flask: Seriously. It used to be, if you wanted to save money, you would just stay home and stare out the window, wishing you were drunk with your friends. This is exactly why the flask was invented. If you want to save loot and socialize in a bar setting – while remaining slightly inebriated – nothing beats a flask. Plus, flasks just look super cool, especially tucked in those boss threads your sly budgeting affords.
Ubering home can be tricky: Hailing an Uber at last call is brutal. Everyone is drunk and roaming the streets with their phones, trying to mash their thumbs on the Uber app in a desperate attempt to get home. Well, if you can manage it, try to beat the last call Uber crowd by hailing an Uber by 1:30 a.m. Also, make it easy for the Uber driver to find you by moving your pick-up location to an obvious intersection.