Joey Ramone was at the first party I ever attended in New York City. I had just moved from Wyoming and was happy to be invited to a co-worker's birthday bash. All I wanted was to get out of the house and meet some new people; I never expected to be eating ziti with a rock-n-roll legend. I remember thinking, "Wow! This is what parties in New York City are like. This is my life from now on!"
Well, ten years later, I can say this isn't the case. Sadly, I've discovered that the glamorous life doesn't just happen. If you want to hobnob with the rich, famous, and fabulous you can't rely on serendipityyou must go to where they are: The A-List Parties. And unless you're actually on the A-List yourself (in which case, can I be your "plus one" at Sean "Puffy" Combs's next White Party?), you may have to do a little detective work and attend as an "unofficial" guest. In other words, you may have to crash. I asked a few people "in the know" about such matters (most of whom prefer to remain anonymous) to get some advice on doing just that.
Find Out What's Out There
You must first find out who is partying and where the parties are by scanning newspaper gossip columns like The New York Post's "Page Six," syndicated columnists like Cindy Adams, or your hometown paper's lifestyle section. Also, make Web sites such as gossipcentral.com and gawker.com part of your daily routine. Log onto record company and movie studio sites as well. Look for any upcoming party for a record release, movie premiere, store opening, fragrance launch, charity bash, etc... There's always an excuse to party! If you're a New Yorker, check out bizbash.com for a run down of New York events. Get yourself on every mailing list you can. If you get your name on one list, you'll usually get your name on five other lists as names are often shared amongst those fabulous party-planners.
And, never forget to keep your eyes and ears open. I once overheard some women talking about a Christmas party for an oil company. They had been hired to deal blackjack at the "Casino Night" theme party. So, dressed in a white shirt and black tie, I breezed right past the doorman of the party. Easy!
Please note: You do not have to be in New York or Los Angeles to find bona fide in-crowd bash. The fabulous folks of the world tend to be jet-setters and they will go pretty much anywhere there's a good party, whether it's at a film shoot in Montana, a charity event in Georgia, or the opening of an envelope in Washington. It may be a little harder to find them and will require a lot more research. But celebrities, like snipes, just need to be flushed out.
Common SenseNarrow Down Your Choices
If you're going to put in the effort to crash a party, make sure it's worth the trouble. You should always go to a party with a clear intention. What do you hope to gain from attending a particular party? Are looking for love? Networking opportunities? Or do you just want free food and booze? Your answer will dictate your choice of parties, narrow your search, and also determine your party attire and party behavior. For example, if you're a lusty, liberal, meat-eating straight woman who seeks a lusty, liberal, meat-eating straight boyfriend, don't bother trying to sneak into a party thrown by "Gay Vegans for Bush." And when you find the right party to party with, make sure you dress and act appropriately.
Don't Call 'Em a Flack Though
Public Relations folks love the limelight as much as their celebrity clients so don't ignore those bold-faced names you don't immediately recognize in your daily gossip column reading. It's a good chance they are the PR flacks putting the party together. If they're not listed but the party's location is, call the venue where the party is to be held and ask who is doing the publicity. Publicists are paid to get information about the event out to the public and will usually be helpful in providing specific details to people who have "lost" their invitation. And if you can make friends with a publicist, you'll have your foot in the door for other parties. Be charming, but don't kiss too much ass. Publicists know the difference between a good party guest and an obnoxious social loser.
P.S. Don't be tempted to misrepresent yourself as a big-wig or a member of the press. They may just assume you are who you say you are and make a fuss over you; and drawing attention to yourself is never a good idea when attempting to gain access to a party.
Répondez s'il vous plaît
Once you know who is handling the RSVPs, go ahead and RSVP and see what happens. Once upon a time, I called a wrong number and reached the voice mail for an Oscar party, hosted by a theatre company. The recording said to leave my name and number to RSVP, so I did. I got a call back from the company confirming my RSVP and asking if I wanted to bring anyone else along. I had a great time watching the Oscars and drinking free martinis and, since I'm now on the list, I get an invitation every year. Granted, this was an Oscar-watching party and not a post-Oscar-schmooze-with-the-folks-holding-the-statues party, but here's the point: RSVP anyway. If your name isn't on the original invitation list, the person handling the guest list may just assume that a mistake was made and that your name was omitted. Most people are more likely to assume incompetence on their part than deviousness on the part of a person who may or may not be someone who could have their jobs.
Meet The Press
Another way to get the skinny on parties crawling with celebrities and other bright young things is to utilize the press in a different way. Tom Dinardo, a tabloid journalist and former reporter for The National Enquirer, recommends befriending a member of the paparazzi. These guys always know what's going on and if you're friendly and ask nicely, they could be persuaded to throw some information your way. You can find them by attending any big to-do and walking directly towards the flashbulbs.
It's a long shot, but you can also use the press machine by becoming part of it. Try making a cold call to the news editor or gossip columnist of a large market newspaper and offer to be a representative of the paper. Let them know you'll attend parties on their behalf and pipeline information to them. A swamped columnist who can't possibly attend everything will sometimes send a person out to be a "fly on the wall." You could go to the party, have a blast, and then all you have to do is let the newspaper know if Tom Cruise showed up with a date. Just remember that this is a job, though, and should be treated as such. Don't say you'll go to the party and skip it. Dinardo advises, "Be impeccable with your word."
Become Part of the Event
If you don't mind putting in a little work, you can enjoy the party by working at it. Big events often require extra staff to "meet and greet" or hand out gift bags. Contact the party venue or the publicist and inquire about the availability of these jobs. It's not glamorous, but if you really want to watch Cameron Diaz eating nachos from across the room, this is a perfectly legitimate way to do it. And maybe, if you're good, you can take a "break" and mingle with the guests. Just don't tell anyone I told you to. And, stalkers, please be advised, too much gawking is a big no-no and will most likely end with your immediate dismissal.
Dress the Part
Obviously, you won't get into any of Jennifer Lopez's weddings wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Dress the guest part nicely and professionally. In other words, blend in. If your party of choice involves a fashionable crowd and you don't make much money, don't go into debt to match them Jimmy Choo to Jimmy Choo. And do not attempt to pass yourself off with knock-offs. It won't work. Something simple like a classic Audrey Hepburn ensemble (black slacks, black heels, and a black turtleneck) does work. And, don't forget hair. Hair separates the rock stars from the hangers-on. Big tends to distract so, again, staying simple if you're not too dexterous with your hair stylings might be the way to go.
There are exceptions to every rule, though. Sometimes it pays to be bold and dress to stand out. I once wore jeans and hiking boots to a party filled with those Prada-clad fashionistas. I was approached by many people who assumed I was a "Somebody" who clearly didn't need to dress to impress. Little did they suspect I was just clueless. Heh heh. Suckers.
Try At Your Own Risk
If you're unable to gain access to a party by "legitimate" means, you may choose to try to sneak in. This is tricky (not to mention potentially costly as it could put you in jail), especially in these days of heightened security. If you give it a go, make sure you've thoroughly scouted the area and know every entrance and back door.
Another oft-used method is to read the guest list upside down at the front door and claim to be someone on the list. Not only is this a difficult maneuver (not to mention skivvy), but, if it's successful, the person you're pretending to be, an invited guest, may not be able to get in. This is bound to bring some bad karma into your life. I don't recommend this method unless you really, really MUST get into that party or you'll just DIE.
And Finally... Just Get Over It
Whatever "it" istimidity, guilt, fear, bad hairdon't let it be an obstacle. Parties are meant to be crashed. Really. More often than not, caterers provide far more food than they need because they understand that there will be "extra" guests. According to an industry insider, most event planners expect crashers and even know "regulars" who crash everything. But the last thing they want is trouble, so they just accept the situation.
So take a chance. The worst thing that may happen is that you'll be caught and thrown out. But what's a little embarrassment compared to a chance for a truly memorable evening? You might just find yourself eating ziti with a rock-n-roll legend. As the saying goes, "there are no strangers, just friends you haven't met yet." Party crashing is attending a party you haven't been invited to... yet!
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