December 27, 2015
I smiled, looked into the mirror and rolled my shoulders up and back – sucking in my lips and applying another quick dab of lipstick. Relishing a second of calm, focusing on a couple of breathes. This space, between the frantic organizing and the full kickoff, a second to contemplate success or failure. Despite Katie leaving us with no Grey Goose, Patron or Dom, we had called in some favors and were ready to go.
The angst spread through my body, out into my fingers. I turned to check out my side view. Still not sure about this dress, Charlotte had picked it out for me from Lover but I never really wore backless dresses, though Viv had pushed hard for it. I wore my hair up to make the most of it. I took another selfie in the full length mirror. I wouldn’t post this one. You could only post a couple a night – there would be better shots to come. There better be.
“The dude had his own fashion show and was attending countless others – promoting his new shoe, four different performances, one of which was Saturday Night Live and right now Twitter said he has hanging at Dave Chappell’s show.”
God I hope people show up. I was always like this when I had a party – and it’s not even my party – well that’s bullshit, I’m thoroughly invested now. But it wasn’t easy, he wanted me to get Kim & Kanye, I’d been calling his people – the dude had his own fashion show and was attending countless others – promoting his new shoe, four different performances, one of which was Saturday Night Live and right now Twitter said he has hanging at Dave Chappell’s show. Good luck.
I needed a good chunk of the list to show up, Vince will lose his shit if they didn’t. I can see his awkward WTF face now, halfway through the night, looking out across the room, tapping his drink debating whether there was someone better he could be talking to, considering if the party was something to brag about or bury. If he is even asking that question, I had failed.
He had this vision of having the party in the middle of AllStar Weekend and Fashion Week, of it being the best in East & Low history, screwing this up would mean messing with Vince’s ego, and I can pretty much forget about moving any further up this greasy employment chain. Everything could be wiped away if this is a flop.
I took another breath, watching my chest rise and fall in the mirror. Time to own this club like it was all for me – it was all because of me.
The Westway was far enough removed from the usual spots that it allowed us to give the impression of anonymity, a joke considering how many photographers I have tipped off in advance – but everyone loved to show up and curse the shower of camera flashes. It was not a new place, but it had maintained its unique appeal over the years. The perfect mix of mystique and debauchery.
“She had poured herself into a green full length dress, her boobs locked in place, I can’t imagine she was especially nimble but she looked great.”
I took a glass of champagne and joined Lisa and Andre from our A&R team, she had poured herself into a green full length dress, her boobs locked in place, I can’t imagine she was especially nimble but she looked great, I told her so. She returned the gesture and I made a note to see if she attempted to dance in it later. With no need to excuse myself, I headed out front to check with the door team again, cars were starting to arrive and I wanted to make sure things were flowing.
Door lists are weird things, the staff are supposed to know who anyone important is, asking people who they are is essentially an insult. You see people try and use this tactic to get into parties, walking up like the doorman should know who they are. These specifies all based their arrival times on perceived status, considering it an obvious fail if they feel they showed up too early, often they’ll send in their publicity people to scope it out first. I made sure all the East & Low crew were here well in advance to kick things off.
From nowhere a guy appeared next to me, security close behind him. “Hey, we did that Red Bull music gig last year right?” He asked. I did recognize him, kind of hard to forget him from the after party – he was skimming records across the pool and in some pretty extraordinary form. That’s the thing with name dropping, if you can establish commonality with someone, you instantly humanize yourself, know it was harder for me to turn this guy away.
He had the classic story of some mistake on the door list, but he didn’t strike me as one to try and organize names on doors. I was of the opinion that interesting people didn’t need to be on lists, it was up to the hosts to just know the potential value they would offer the party. You could see the red on his cheeks from the cold, and he wanted this pretty bad.
“Two of you?” I asked, “I guess, what was your name again?”
Vince would be horrified that I was letting in two guys while groups of girls waiting in the line, but screw him. I feel like a cigarette, but it’s impossible with so much cheek kissing. Music, sports and fashion royalty begin to arrive and I continued firing off message after message to managers and agents, still trying to lock in key people. Telling them who was here and reminding people of past favors, offering up fresh promises – many of which would be almost impossible to deliver on. But that’s the industry. Publicity and events trade on the silky sweetness of possibility. The idea that someone could jump a couple of rungs up the ladder by being with the right people, generating the right exposure.
The location had been leaked all over town so photos were appearing on Instagram and would trigger people on the fence to make sure they came by. The world is still fickle at the top, they still cruise Instagram in a continual state of comparison.
A dark skinned girl in an oversized white shirt get out of a Porsche. She had an older guy on her arm – and he really was on her arm – despite being much younger, she had this beautiful presence. Viv said she was a model, the guy a designer. My eyes clung to her, she soaked in attention and it glistened on her skin. I couldn’t remember them from the list but of course they breezed on in. Everyone watching knew they would breeze straight in.
This whole process, the politics, it wasn’t dissimilar to life. You’re selling the dream, trading on potential, opportunity. You have to play coy with the managers or publicists – make them feel you don’t need their client to turn up. Like you know all the top names will be there anyway, appear too needy and their people will question if it’s high profile enough. Their game is making sure that the party is a rung above – that it will build their image rather then leverage it. When your weeks are filled with endorsements and appearances – where do you go to remind yourself that you were still a big deal? These parties, that’s where.
An hour or so later, and the place was filling up, Carmelo Anthony turns up in a matte black Mercedes jeep, his wife Lala taking her time stepping down. Him turning up meant I owed a big favor to his stylist Khalilah for putting in the word.
I pushed some stale air out from the bottom of my chest, now I could almost relax. I grabbed another glass of wine and felt I could become part of the party rather than prodding at it like someone playing Candy Crush on the Subway. It was at the point whatever happened, happened. I’d still get calls from assistants trying to get people on the door, requesting tables and special security but the essentials were in place.
“Oh my god Emma!” Viv said, looking at me wide eyed and following with a barrage of questions and proclamations about who was in the room and who I had to introduce her to.
“Turns out you know how to throw a party. Clean up alright too.” Michael said, I deflect his kiss to my cheek, preserving my lipstick. I could tell Viv was already itching to ditch him and get her mingle on. Her dress was shorter than the photo, but she looked awesome, a large plated necklace drawing attention to her chest, tastefully of course. Michael looked good, albeit the absence of flair compared to the other guys. He looked at me, expecting a compliment for the effort, but a “Looking good babe” was all I could muster, it sounded weak and tasted like cardboard. I introduced Michael to some guys from work and took Viv with me to meet some interesting people.
“These are the types of shots that would blow up your phone for days, I loved waking up to notifications – and I had friends with higher salaries to make jealous.”
I watched Viv bubble away as she chatted, then escaped to work the room and squeeze in an a photo with Melo and his big toothy grin. I applied a subtle filter to take the white glare off my skin, they likes rolled in eclipsing my previous shot. I wanted to get one with Darnell and hopefully Rihanna, she was floating around the dance floor. These are the types of shots that would blow up your phone for days, I loved waking up to notifications – and I had friends with higher salaries to make jealous.
May Kwok had begun her set, and the place was kicking off. Outside the line stretched around the corner, most of them would never be let in, but we gave them hope to keep the image that a line of dressed up hopefuls represents. That’s why I hated waiting in lines – you are literally free advertising for the club – fleshy living billboards. Sure, some of the girls would get in – maybe some of the guys, eventually. Names would be dropped, cred with the girls they came with would slowly fade.
“Katie perched next to him, laughing loudly at every half joke, just watching her was grinding me, corrupting my mood.”
I checked in with Vince at his private table, elevated on an upper level, looking down on everyone and a prime view of the dancers. It was designed to manufacture plastic prestige – common folk on the ground floor like cattle, tables dotted around to look down on them. He sat with Darnell, a bunch of models and Katie perched next to him, laughing loudly at every half joke, just watching her was grinding me, corrupting my mood, I had to shake it off.
A couple of people left so I took a spot next to Katie, she smiled, flicked her heavy lashes and shifted in her seat, she reached to pull down her skirt but didn’t, just looking for something to do with her hands. Vince waved a cool looking older guy over to sit with us, he wore half tinted sunglasses and a neck scarf.
“Emma, you have to meet Lucas.” He said, “Emma and Katie brought this all together tonight.” Already well liquored and his showing signs it was on the move.
“Great party Emma, you look stunning, nice to meet you.”
“Lucas is one of the original NY partners of CAA, but I’m sure you know that.”
“Your outfits always seem to outshine everyone else’s.” I said. “Tonight is no exception.”
“Ohhh, I like this one Vince. Shall we have a little drink?”
Katie became uneasy as I spoke with them across the front of her chest. She welcomed the shot of Patron and flashed a textbook smile at Vince before draining it.
Whatever it took to sign him I suppose, we needed some fresh talent on the books.
“You know, I throw the odd party myself.” Lucas said, following the shot. “Nothing huge, just a few great people, some good old fashioned fun.”
“Sounds interesting.” I said.
Vince had a weird look on his face and tried to distance himself.
“Ask Vince.” Lucas said, “He’s been to a couple. A prominent feature if I recall.”
Vince looked at him, cringed a little; I could only imagine the kinky stuff this dude would get into.
“So Emma,” Vince said. “What are the numbers like?”
“It can’t be far off capacity.” Katie – the little bitch – chimed in before I could answer.
Vince finally introduced me to Darnell, the two of them looked to be getting on really well, which was a good sign. He also, unsurprisingly seemed to have a soft spot for Katie. Whatever it took to sign him I suppose, we needed some fresh talent on the books.
I needed a change of scenery. Back downstairs I hooked up with Andre and disappeared for a quick bump, we moved back out through the crowd, watching the various dancers on the pedestals. Michael decided he wanted to head off, “Great party, sorry, just wiped out.” he says, watching me judge him for it. I don’t care how tired you are, people would kill to be in this room, one of the parties of the year and he wants to ditch out early. Weirdo.
I grab a bottle of Grey Goose and pour a drink, Viv is dancing with some dude in shiny shoes and a bow-tie, some banker that actually has a sense of style. They have an interesting half grind going on, a small departure from her resolve to remain a certain sophistication for the night. God I love her.
As the night creeps on, the place becomes all loose and limber, people canvasing opportunities.
I make a point of being in a bunch of the official photos, you never know where these might end up. I’m sure Katie would be in a bunch of them. I keep an eye out for Rihanna, but haven’t seen her for a while. As the night creeps on, the place becomes all loose and limber, people canvasing opportunities. The earlier nerves seem irrelevant and distant. I danced in circles of new faces and laughed on the shoulders of names I had profiled days earlier. Viv had regained a bit of composure after a few successive trips to the bathroom, she thanked me emotionally and then leaves with the banker.
This was the last taste, still the beautiful time of night but soon the crowd would thin out, the desperation would creep in. I was just getting in the flow, warming and absorbing the success – I always preferred the after parties anyway, a place for the true creatures of the night.
I still couldn’t believe Michael had left early, I don’t care what you have on tomorrow – there are some moments in life so full of potential that they demand you get stuck in and explore the possibilities – I was with someone that could just ignore it all. It sucked. But it’s just who he was.