In just five years, Patrick Greene has gone from training to be a financial accountant in Cork to becoming one of the biggest nightclub promoters in Manhattan.
Since landing in New York city on a J1 visa in 2013, the man from outside Sligo town has experienced the low of losing his job in Christmas week to the highs of hosting events with Conor McGregor and Leonardo DiCaprio.
He now spends his days organising, and his nights hosting, in the biggest clubs in Manhattan, cruising along the Hudson in yachts, or rubbing shoulders with the Kardashians in the Hamptons – all for the company he set up and heads himself.
“I run the Greene Room, a PR and events company hired by big venues to run their events for them,” Greene says. “They prefer to outsource their events to event specialists with an existing client base and following rather than spend time and resources building a brand from the ground up, especially when they’ve three or four other venues to work on.
“Every venue wants a certain demographic on a given night. And everybody loves Irish people. Because Irish people don’t come into a place expecting anything, whereas some New Yorkers can be spoilt and expecting everything.
“When Irish people are at an event abroad, it’s a celebration - look at McGregor’s fights or the Euros. Not many people in America have a bad word to say about the Irish and that really does help me when pitching for new business to the venues.”
The 28-year-old from Carraroe, just outside Sligo town, studied commerce and German in NUIG followed by a Masters in ecommerce in DCU.
In between, he had a stint as a trainee financial accountant. After working with a digital advertising company in Dublin, he decided to look for a new challenge in the US.
So how does a Sligo man get involved in promoting for exclusive Manhattan nightclubs?
“It's acually a good story; I was only three months over here and I went bartending in Hell’s Kitchen. I was getting sick of going to Irish bars, so I got a promoter’s number and I sent him a text about going to 1Oak [club]. Eight girls and one guy for a birthday party, but by the time we got there it was down to like four guys and one girl, so he came out and said ‘sorry there’s nothing I can do for you’.
“A few nights later the same promoter texted me asking if I wanted to hit a club again and we developed a relationship where I started sending people down from the bar, and he would pay me. Then one night the manager of the bar said you can’t do that, and he fired me. This was Christmas week.
“I was just living pay cheque to pay cheque, so I had no other option but to stand on the corner of the street on the Meatpacking [district] and get numbers into a club. It definitely was a character building experience, trying to promote this exclusive club and encourage people to spend their money while wearing a onesie under my clothes with barely a penny to my name!”
He got an internship with a TV production company, but given the low pay involved, he kept up a bit of the promoting on the side.
“By that stage, I had a following of about 30 people who would come out with me each Friday and Saturday,” he says. “After a couple of months, the numbers were growing and more venues wanted to work with me so I decided to give up my internship and see how this goes full time. I was working for a promotions company, and then about two years ago I went out on my own.”
It may be alien to most Irish people, but the promoter-nightclub dynamic is quite the norm in many of the big American cities. On a nightly basis, Greene offers free entry and VIP treatment to party-goers. These provide a crowd and atmosphere which encourages big-spending “clients” to attend and spend at those venues.
“The fact that you walk up and skip a line and get in for free is a novelty for anyone – whether you’re famous or not. In New York, it’s really standard practice – girls free in, or a good ratio, your own booth and your drink for free.
"It's madness. In one of the clubs I work in, I saw Paris Hilton spend $250,000 on bottle service for her birthday party. The nightclub pay us and the whole thing is a circle.
“Basically it’s my job to make sure the nightclub is aesthetically set up for when clients come in. We would compare it to extras in a movie. We set the scene so that when people with the money come in, they’ll happily spend the big bucks. We provide the clients and the crowd.”
And what makes NYC so different to everywhere else?
“It’s the rooftop with the NYC skyline in the background that really stands out when you first come over. The skyline really is the USP [unique selling point] here. I work with four different rooftop clubs during the week and a boat party on a Saturday to cater for the demand.”
One of Greene's biggest breaks came with the arrival of Conor McGregor to the city as he became the first double weight champion in the UFC by beating Eddie Alvarez in the state's first contest last November.
Greene pitched the idea of hosting a McGregor fight after-party to the Marquee nightclub. He hosted his tables at the event, and ran the entire PR when McGregor came to town again on St Patrick’s day - after the ‘Notorious’ joined the ring walk for Michael Conlon’s pro boxing debut.
They saw the actual value to Irish people, the huge money that Irish people are making over here
“Initially they were given a quote to hold his party. And they said no way we’re not paying that. That’s ridiculous,” recalls Greene. “But I knew it would work though. I knew one construction company paying huge money for tickets, I knew another paying for a box, companies from all over New York were bringing their clients out to this fight and they were all going to want to bring them out afterwards.
“The UFC 205 after-party was the first time that there was an actual Irish nightlife event of huge substance, away from when we drink a pint of Guinness and we are good craic, happening in New York.
“Now they see Irish people in a completely different light. Before that they saw Irish people as middle class, then they saw the actual value to Irish people, the huge money that Irish people are making over here, and were just like ‘wow’.
“They made well over $500k. It was the biggest night they’ve ever had, surpassing [top DJ] Tiesto or anything like that.”
He tells another story, of the first time he met DiCaprio, at a private party at a bowling alley, put on by the Prince of Saudi Arabia. The Hollywood star had introduced himself to one of Greene’s female colleagues, and before he knew it they were both in an Uber with DiCaprio, his agent, another actor, and two girls in the back. They “drove up to a club and hung out for the night, one of the cooler nights that was . . .
“The norm for many clubs in Dublin and all over the world is to walk in off the street, but in New York there is so much competition and the overheads are an awful lot bigger. They need a crowd and clients. They need to be guaranteed that if they’re bringing a client who is spending a lot of money at that the nightclub that it is full for them. Therefore it’s worth paying us to ensure that.
“In New York, the most popular club could be a small room. But they’ll make it so exclusive to get into and that’s what makes it great. I’ve been in nightclubs with Bradley Cooper, LeBron James, the whole Liverpool team (with only the Irish in the club, to his amusement, knowing who they were), Rihanna, Neymar, Justin Bieber, Naomi Campbell. Michael Flatley, Lord of the Dance and Riverdance when they were here on tour.
I want to open up a window where I can support Irish grads, and build a little Irish empire
“One thing I love is taking the Irish people to these venues. It’s great showing people these places, because it is an interesting scene to be involved in. And nothing pleases me more than them telling me they had a great night. That’s what I’m in the business for, to show people this luxurious scene, and to make sure the 50 or so people that come with me have a great night” .
Despite his success, Greene isn’t sated. He has big plans to expand his Irish empire even further, beyond the city that never sleeps.
“Ideally I want to open up a window where I can support Irish grads, and build a little Irish empire. I have three promoters working for me already now and they are all Irish. I have someone who runs my social media, and my client services.
“There is an Irish bar in every city in the world - and the reason Irish bars are so popular worldwide is because we do hospitality like no others. So if I can bring in more Irish promoters, then that will help bring that across.”
He’s already working in co-operation with promotion companies in Las Vegas and Miami, and was working exclusively with nightclubs in Las Vegas for the Mayweather v McGregor fight.
“I’m really targeting America. I’ve a while to go, but hospitality is my key.
"The next big goal though is to bring more Miami and Vegas DJs to New York. They have a larger profit margin, then down the line I'd like to get into festivals like Burning Man and Coachella etc. So event management and creation, along with continuing all the Greene Room services."
But do regular Irish graduates, people over on the J1 visa programme and holidaymakers really have a chance of heading out on these nights with him?
"Absolutely, I especially love to look after my own. If you have Irish friends coming over, put them in touch with me. Get me on social media. I say to people that the biggest sign of gratitude then, is to refer to me to your friends."