Dab Dab vs. Rub Rub: The Wonders of Gloria Starr



I don’t remember how I found her, or what mysterious force led me into this corner of YouTube, but I do remember the first etiquette video of Gloria Starr’s that I watched. It was about afternoon tea. The video begins with Starr seated before a cluttered dining table—in front of her is an array of teapots and cups in varying shapes and sizes. To her left, filling half the screen, is an absurdly large floral arrangement. Starr, wearing a black dress bedazzled with gold and silver beads, stiffly addresses the camera: “Gloria Starr here. Our session today is on afternoon tea. I set out a beautiful display, and in preparation for a lovely party, I’m wearing a goddess gown from my adventures in other cultures.”

Starr, as I would later come to learn, describes herself as an “international etiquette, manners, and social graces coach.” According to her website, she has worked with members of royal families and Fortune 500 companies across the globe for over three decades. On her YouTube channel—a virtual finishing school of sorts—she posts homemade lessons on all matters of etiquette and presentation. There are hundreds of them, each more surreal than the last: Gloria Starr on how to eat pasta; Gloria Star on how to accessorize; Gloria Starr on how to pay a compliment. Some videos are humorous, such as the one on grocery store etiquette. Others are quite spooky, such as this one, in which she sits in a low-lit room before a ghostly candle-lit dinnerscape, explaining the intricacies of a formal table setting. After watching a few Starr videos in succession, the lo-fi production values, the cool intonation of her voice, and her gentle, if confusing, decrees (“When you use your napkin, it’s dab dab, never rub rub”) take on an almost hypnotic quality. But despite her occasionally, well, wack (and often outmoded) advice, Starr’s ultimate message is aspirational in nature: it is about being the best version of yourself. She believes in the promise of each of us. “You are a living, human treasure,” one video begins. Words to live by!

By way of introduction, below are five videos I thought might be particularly relevant to the Newest York miniblog reader. Enjoy?

1. Walking and Talking

We spend a lot of time doing both of these things in New York. In this video, Starr explains how to handle both gracefully. Men: NO walking with your hands in your pockets.


2. Cubicle Etiquette

Very relatable for many of us office-goers. In this video, Starr instructs on how to “maintain your dignity” in the workplace. Big takeaways: bring minimal (if any) personal objects into the office, no personal phone calls, and NO loud talking.


3. Cell Phone Etiquette

A lot of people in New York would do well to watch this video. Starr believes in raising your hand to your mouth when speaking on the phone in public, that way your words stay only between you and your caller.


4. Business Card Exchange

New Yorkers love to network. Here, Starr instructs on the proper way to give and receive business cards. The most important takeaway: NEVER put a business card that’s just been handed to you in your pocket or bag while the person is still in front of you. Hold it in one hand until you part ways.


5. Making an entrance

No matter what you’re walking into—be it the club or the boardroom—it should be an opportunity to make a memorable first impression. Starr recommends pausing for impact.