A club promoter wants a line in front of the club, to make it look like a cool place people are willing to wait in that line for. Ideally, it'd be filled with attractive, cool looking people. So they tell their cool, attractive friends, hey, I can get you free drinks all night, so long as you start the night standing in line, going in, hanging out for a bit, exiting through the back and getting back in line. Offering free drinks and access to new clubs is a pretty reliable way to stay friends. And so the economy of these things began.
I don't think I'm the only person who feels a bit queasy about this. Obviously, the club is promoting itself using a sort of lazy and silent fraud. It's not too dissimilar to selling your friend your house for $30 billion dollars, and having him sell it back to you for the same amount, and cancelling each others debt – and then going to the bank for your new 11-figure home equity loan. It's a little different, but basically the same strategy – people pretend something is valuable to get others interested, and take their money for it.
I think an under-discussed part is the role of the people getting free drinks. Hard-drinking attractive youngsters (says the 25 year old) are not the type of people I suspect would care about whether they are acting in a pro-social way. My concern for how my actions impact others has only grown over time, so I don't expect much of people even younger than me.
There are a hundred small questions of etiquette in life. Some are important, some aren't. But the reason this one doesn't matter is slightly complicated, I think. The fraud and comfort in misleading strangers is one thing. But, in my experience, attractive, cool-looking people are a total snoozefest. If you enter a club, and the attractive people in line aren't there, I understand your disappointment, but you haven't really lost much. You really want to spend time dancing with people who're drunk off their asses from doing laps through the club entrances for an hour?
That all being said, I would enjoy hearing someone say "yes, I mislead others, and my dishonesty is bought for a shot of cheap vodka – but it's okay because nobody would actually want to spend time with me anyway". So frequently we make excuses for others, even while, today, the native excuse-manufacturing industry is struggling. Let them brandish their own shield for once.