Swine Flu be damned, nobody declined an invite to the White House Correspondents Association Dinner this year. This was Trashiwire’s fourth year of attending the pre-parties at “NerdProm”, as it was dubbed by the Twitterverse and this time, the crowd was overwhelming! CSPAN reported that there were over 3,000 attendees, but it felt like double that. I guess we should have known that Obama would pack a much bigger crowd.
Adding to the claustrophobic feeling was the massive hotel renovation underway at the Washington Hilton. Nearly 50% of the hotel was closed off and under construction, causing crowds and parties to condense into fewer spaces. The entire terrace, which usually houses several parties, was stripped down and looked more like a concrete landing strip than the tropical gardens that were there last year. This meant the larger crowd was now crammed into the remaining ballroom spaces on the lower level.
The massive crowd was jovial and festive at first, but once everyone started getting packed in like bees in a hive, designer gowns got stepped on, tuxedos got sweaty and it turned into a a classy, upscale mosh pit.
Some of the Hollywood elite looked a bit shell shocked as the massive swarms of beaded gown women with cameras pushed against the plastic barrier that designated the VIP section. Tucked in huddles like a timeout in an overtime game, were Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, Tyra Banks, Eva Longoria, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges”. Since they weren’t making there way around the party, cameras flashed at them like they were part of an exhibit. This was all disappointing to the crowd of decked out journos and bloggers alike because, in years past, mingling with these celebs was simple and even expected.
We squirmed our way out of the Time party in hopes of getting some air, but the hallways looked like the opening day of an “everything must go” bridal sale. As we were whisked into the current of the crowd, we found ourselves next to Chris Tucker and Rev. Al Sharpton. Tucker was friendly and made a point to politely introduce himself to Mayor Michael Bloomberg as he walked by. Bloomberg is always in attendance and is so unassuming and pleasant that it’s hard to believe you’re standing next to the eight-richest American.
Jon Bon Jovi and his wife Dorothea suddenly appeared near the corner where we were standing as Sharpton made his way over to say hello. I managed to get a picture with both of them, a shot that tells you just how strange this event really is. To quote Seinfeld, “Worlds are colliding!”.
It is common to see really unlikely people chatting it up together. I think when you are famous and/or powerful, you get into that special fraternity regardless of your politics, and this party demonstrates that to the fullest. I remember seeing Newt Gingrich and Sheryl Crow mere inches away from each other, strange duos for sure.
As the lights flickered, queuing the crowd to begin to file out for the dinner, we were able to snap a few more pictures and then back to the room to rest our stiletto-clad feet and wipe off the layers of Mac makeup.
Because this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner took place the day before Mother’s Day, I decided to give my mom a chance to write up the event this year. For more from Pat Sue, follow her on Twitter @psgentry.