Collective Winter Wonderland Party, Celsius Bryant Park, New York
December 2, 2010
My sister, do gooding Ohio University student MaryBeth Bognar, is living with me (yes, in our cozy NYC apartment) while she interns with Catchafire, one of my favorite finds from the party circuit this year. As much as possible, I want to expose her to the digital media and advercrowd in the wild. When I received the invitation to Collective's Winter Wonderland Party at Celsius Bryant Park, it screamed liquored-up schmooze, and I knew it was the right party to drag her to. Holy open-bar madness, was I right.
We arrived at Celsius to find line from the entrance winding through the holiday shops, whose keepers poked their heads out angrily to see what was blocking more incoming sales. I could hear the Bryant Park Tree Lighting ceremony in process, with whoops, applause, and one singing voice I recognized but couldn't place. Only later did I find out, thanks to long-time fan Chris O'Leary of Mediavest (AND Brew York, New York), that it was one of the ladies from Wilson Phillips. Wilson Phillips! A holiday miracle! I glanced up to the second floor of Celsius to see early arrivals pressed up against the blue-lit windows for a clearer view of the ice rink.
Madhouse. The coatcheck line blocked up the check-in line, the check-in line blocked up the coat-check line... and the kneebone's connected to the headache bone. Upstairs I scooted, finding sweaty, energized digital advertypes cramming themselves five rows deep into the lone second-floor bar. Tip #1 for you if you're a first-timer heading to a large event with open bar: do not hang out at the bar like it's Shoolbreds. In and out, people, no lingering.
Which leads me to tip #2: I know it's pretty exciting to get out from under that cube -- to have someone pay for your drink this time -- but again, when it's a huge party where the bartenders need to turn over those rows of people quickly, try not to order that five-ingredient drink with a splash or Reindeer Tears, ok? Oh hell, let's talk about tip #3, then: You're right, it's packed, but if your proximity introduces my mid back (I'm short, ok) to your toilet parts with repetition, you're too close. If your reaction, when told of such proximity, is "I don't have a choice." you have had the wrong reaction. If I can smell your pituitary gland, it's time to back up.
A group of people adopted MaryBeth into their circle while I shot around, which left her in the spill zone. Within minutes, she was doused in some sort of Asian fusion dippin' sauce, turning her into a sticky creature. In typical MaryBeth style, she waved it off and felt really bad for the waitress, who felt really bad.
I ran into Kiana Watson and Sarah Muir of Mindshare, who are always little pockets of glee at any party. I also saw a bunch of my admarketplace dinner (meat, butter-lovers unite!) buddies, who later became reoccurring characters during Advertising Week like James Cote, and his posse: Winnie Lau and Matt Meadow from draftfcb and Jane Chaiyasit, Anthony Scarola, and DJ Meyer of MediaCom.
As I popped out from the mass crush at the bar, a hand patted my shoulder and I saw the aforementioned Chris O'Leary, who later met me outside under the heat lamps, where he filled my ear and teased my liver with his latest Brew York, New York stories. We also unearthed a plan where qualified bloggers would somehow get their rent "sponsored." Can you imagine a sponsored commune of really valuable bloggers? It would be either heaven or hell. Or purgatory.
O'Leary later stood still long enough for a photo with Ryan Kanaley, Acct. Exec., Collective; Ben Ochnio, Sr. Planner, Neo@Ogilvy; Andrew Price, Interactive Media Planner, GSD&M Idea City Austin; Denzel James, Digital Planner, MEC; and Bobak Karamzadeh, Planner, Zenith Optimedia.
The goofiest duo came from the bar line when two guys who I managed to not get the names of stepped in front of me and MaryBeth as we waited. "Do you cut in front of women all the time?" I said, joshing of course. Purple Sweater came back with "Yes, I am an equal-opportunity cutter." They made our wait so much more fun, even calming down an irate gal in the same waiting-forever predicament. We were joined by Nic De Castro, inside sales dude at Magnetic, who insisted on taking my camera (and you know how I love that) to shoot the crowd. When I grimaced, he said "I know it's expensive, I used to model," which would also explain his charismatic hair.
Joe Apprendi, CEO of Collective, was also there, either proud of or traumatized by his party, which inspired some college-style girl-on-girl grindage, pointy-finger happy-circle dancing, and various other interpretive industry mating dances throughout. My favorite display of endurance was James Cote's Russian-squat-kick-shoulder-slap-skeleton-glove jig.
Also basking in the glow of the lit tree were Sienna Farris of Strawberryfrog; Emily Gross and Jessica Mitchell of Carat; Katie Burks of Tommy Hilfiger; Alejandra Urrabazo and Michael Hernandez of Carat; Danielle Bouchard and Robyn Gordin of Horizon Media; Chris Putnam, Charles Wolrich, and Jason Bigler of Collective; Matt McKinnon of IDGTechNetwork; Matthew Cirri of MEC; Michael Liu and Chistopher Clarke of PHD; and the other photog, Sunny Norton.
Between the slurs, the bubbling laughter, the bear hugs, and hairy eyeballs, there is always one character who either pre-partied too hard or just didn't know the limits of those White Russians. And this character came in the form of Surly Sue, whose identifying characteristics are omitted for job security.
Surly Sue was no doubt seeing double when she snarled as her table space was invaded. Eventually I saw her doing some sort of googly-eyed backstroke in the fluffy white pillows on one of the couches. That backstroke may or may not have been replaced by the butterfly to the porcelain goblet this morning.
The party was slated to go until midnight, but I left around 11, with people still pouring in. Judging from the state I left everyone in, I'll bet their hired photog got some great shots as the night closed in.