Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I Am Swank, Briefly

My high-powered NJYP connections introduced me to Netparty, a site organizing networking functions for young professionals, and apparently people like me as well. Netparty held their premiere NYC event last night, where 1700 young professionals were expected to crowd into a club, trade business cards, and possibly hump each other, but in a totally professional, business-casual way. I went, expecting the social-phobic, fish out of water disaster these things usually collapse into — but I enjoy these stylish clubs, first because I get off on that slick, trance, mood-lit ambiance and second because I feel like someone important walking into this secret, sacred space, like Page Six or Heidi Montag might stop by and I'd get to be on the other side of the tabloid glossy for once. As if that's a worthy goal, but I think we can all agree that it sounds better spending tonight like every other night, commuting home, stuck in traffic.

The party was held at Hiro, an exclusive club that usually has no reason to be open at six on a Tuesday night. I confirmed this with a couple of the bartenders. Hiro is one of those obnoxious places that's kept hidden from the plebeians — 371 West 16th Street doesn't even exist during daylight hours, camouflaged as a service entrance for what I always thought was a homeless shelter but turns out to be an expensive hotel. It's easier to find at night because you can just look for the line of beautiful people heading into the Maritime Hotel's service entrance. I arrived a few minutes before the party sort of kicked off at six and the line was already down to the corner.

I was probably the only person waiting on line not talking into, e-mailing from, or texting on some kind of handheld electronic gizmo.

I'm generally super-awkward at these events and I somehow found myself sitting at the dudes' table. All of you with — not social skills so much as social confidence — haven't experienced this phenomenon, but basically you're hanging in the clu trying to look engaged, failing usually. One of the system admins already at the dudes' table — everyone at the dudes' table is inevitably a system admin — calls you over and you collapse, sucked into this black hole of low self-esteem, and wind up sitting with dudes sadly pointing out who's hot, or even more sadly not pointing out who's hot. Dudes and their repressive asexual work ethic are actually here for networking.

Here's where the night becomes awesome. So I'm at the dudes' table trying to explain this Netparty concept to some system admin who doesn't really speak English and is, seriously, expecting someone to make a presentation tonight, and just generally getting frustrated cause I've been sitting at the dudes' table since I was seven or eight years old. I want to escape and I see the woman who was in front of me on that long, long line outside sitting by herself. Understand: I never do this. I've never done this. But I was totally sick of being this guy's instruction manual — "No, you have to go and introduce yourself" — that I excused myself to go "mingle."

I went up to... the bar.

I checked out upstairs.

I brought my drink into the men's room. I've never seen this before: they have all this metrosexual styling product over the sink and a guy who charges you two bucks to use it. I'm a firm believer that you can judge the classiness of a joint by its bathroom — fake white marble, high-velocity hand dryers, those big bowl sinks. Hiro had the bathroom of your corner deli, plus the guy selling fancy soap or whatever was sort of creepy.

I left the bathroom and, out of places to wander, I introduced myself to the woman from outside. "I remember you from the line..." I'm not sure what the big—

Hold on. I'm forgetting something. It didn't hit me till later, but: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't figure out what I was afraid of, since this went smooth as, well, curling up in a ball and floating underwater. Sure, the circumstances were really favorable — no competition, plus I had an opener, plus I don't know what the hell Hiro put in my drinks but I was spinning for hours — but still, in instant replay, it can't see my looming disaster approaching from anywhere at all. There's a moral somewhere in here; I really hope I can dig it out.


Mike said...

Awesome. Glad you had a good time.