Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Derby Part 2: Barnstable-Brown continued

** Warning: Name-dropping galore.

The bar is in full swing, and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside, until the air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other’s names. - The Great Gatsby

All I could think about when I arrived at the Barnstable-Brown Gala was this passage from my favorite novel. The black and white tiled dance floor was crammed with strangers and floated under a massive tent on a tiered backyard. Most partygoers had cleaned up after their day at the track and wore gowns that cost more than my car and the out-of-towners wondered who their host was. There wasn't any "yellow cocktail music," but the Jim Wilson house band kept everyone on their dancing feet whether or not there was a celebrity guest singer.

The long winding driveway that leads up to the Barnstable mansion was dotted with tall, beautiful women wearing tight black dresses -- think Robert Palmer, but with longer skirts -- holding trays of Grey Goose Pear martinis that were impossible to decline. On the side of the hill, the UK dance team was on repeat in their shorter-than-short shorts and midriff-baring cheerleading shirts. We walked past a replice of the Hollywood sign, the Statue of Liberty, and the Sphnix on our way into the party, which then offered an Egyptian-themed swimming pool solarium complete with a floating pharoah bed.

In addition to multiple bars stationed around the party, each table was supplied with full bottles of alcohol, various mixers, cherries, limes, lemons, and orange slices, just in case you didn't want to get up from your table to keep yourself hydrated. Or de-hydrated, I guess. There was a massive dinner buffet, with surprisingly good vegetarian offerings, and loads of desserts. I love a well-cooked asparagus.

At one point, I stepped outside the tent with Shannon, who wanted to smoke, and we lingered by one of the many security guards protecting the party-goers from crashers. This woman on the porch of the mansion next door called out to us, "Do I know you?" She seemed to be having her own party, and I called back, "I don't know. Who are you?"

"I can't see you from here. Do you know the *****s?" (It was some surname I can't recall.) We laughed and said we didn't.

Then she got huffy and told us we need to leave the premises immediately. She obviously thought we were crashers, which is dumb because we'd been talking to the security guard. "We're at the Barnstable party, just didn't want to somke in the other guests' faces." She left us alone after that, but it was still rude, I thought.

There was dancing now on the canvas in the garden; old men pushing young girls backward in eternal graceless circles, superior couples holding each other tortuously, fashionably, and keeping in the corners—and a great number of single girls dancing individualistically or relieving the orchestra for a moment of the burden of the banjo or the traps. By midnight the hilarity had increased. - The Great Gatsby

I joined the band on-stage about 10:00 and played four songs, during which time I had a clear view of Kid Rock, who looked perfectly cool at his VIP table in the center of the room. I kind of love Kid Rock, mostly because he knows how awesome his life is, and he knows that whereever he goes, it's going to be fun. I yodeled, and the crowd cheered, and they loved my rhinestone cowboy boots. Paris Hilton watched with very little expression, but I had a killer time singing onstage with my good friends Peter Searcy and Shannon Lawson.

I was immediately followed by Run DMC, who performed about five songs, including "Cat's in the Cradle," which I think might be the ultimate white-person song, so that was fun. Especially seeing all the drunk, rich, white folks movin' and shakin' their hips. It really was kind of awesome.

My favorite band performance was En Vogue. I don't know how often they sing together, but it just dounded beautiful, and there's no way to keep from movin' your hips when "Never Gonna Get It" is on the radio, much less when they're wearing silver sparkly outfits and singing to you live.

Other performers included Taylor Dayne, Boys II Men, Joey Fatone, Nick & Drew Lachey, Travis Tritt, and of course the king of the night, Kid Rock. Kid Rock ruled that stage, ripped up the guitar, and even took over the piano at one point. Good times.

The reluctance to go home was not confined to wayward men. The hall was at present occupied by two deplorably sober men and their highly indignant wives. The wives were sympathizing with each other in slightly raised voices. -The Great Gatsby

I gathered my guitar and accordion and managed to squeeze through the large but crowded hallway out the front door, navigating my way down the driveway around "nappers" and couples wondering where they'd left their umbrellas or shoes. The line for
cabs and car services was longer than I cared to wait, so I decided I'd just walk a bit. I don't live far from the Barnstable mansion, although my house is a shack in comparison. About two minutes into my walk, I called FWATruck, who rescued me from the madness.

We went to the Monkey Wrench. Obviously. I'm not sure how Peter and Shannon made it home.

Anyway, Ii've always wanted to attend a Gatsby party, and this was the closest thing to time traveling to a fictional place. Well done, Barnstables. Amazing party. Hope to see you again next year.

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