Pulse: 60-Second Critic: Nonfiction: On The Make: The Hustle of Urban Nightlife

Peer into Starr’s staff meetings, Penn dorm rooms pre-party, and 2nd Street’s VIP lounges.


On The Make: The Hustle of Urban Nightlife
By David Grazian (University of Chicago Press; $25)

It’s hard to love a book with this premise: You, dear reader, are nothing but a gullible mark in the scam that is Philadelphia nightlife. In the book’s central theme, Stephen Starr is the ultimate confidence man, the city’s PR flacks (here, all hidden behind easily decoded pseudonyms) are the ropers drawing you into the con, and the bartenders are the insiders, making you feel at ease. Even the coat-check girl is in on it. Oh, and you are, too — the best marks always want to believe the illusion. While Grazian, a Penn prof, offers a footnoted academic study of Old City clubbing, complete with awkward definitions of “pregaming” and “hooking up,” there is some voyeuristic fun, as we get to peer into Starr’s staff meetings, Penn dorm rooms pre-party, and 2nd Street’s VIP lounges. B-

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