Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past ten
days, chances are you’ve heard something about this weekend’s White
House Correspondents’ Association Dinner and its accompanying
circus of pre- and post-parties and dinners. We trekked through
the wind and rain Friday and Saturday nights to make sure no
one would miss out on the real action, so here are our dispatches
from the Washington Hilton and beyond.
Friday, April 27, 8:30 PM: NPR’s Friday Night Spin Party at the Gibson Guitar Showroom
Security was tight at this downtown event—the first ever WHCAD party for NPR, and a relatively glitzy event, with Solange Knowles deejaying and Colin Hanks as the guest of honor. Hanks wore an “I Love NPR” pin and waked around quietly with his date. Cold weather meant most guests came inside, although the outdoor roof terrace offered sparkly views of the Verizon Center (and occasional wafts of barbecue from the restaurants downstairs).
Advertised attendees Ginnifer Goodwin, Mary J. Blige, and John Legend were nowhere to be seen (at least before media were thrown out at 10), but guests perked up around 9:45 when Arianna Huffington showed up, resplendent in a structural black cape. Lauren Bush Lauren also arrived with her husband, David Lauren, both looking appropriately like a pair of all-American catalog models. Knowles stayed behind the decks with her entourage, but looked faintly amused at all the wedding-style dancing going on in front of her. And the food? Waiters served sliders, chicken bites, and other hors d’oeuvres.
Friday, April 27, 10:30 PM: Funny or Die's First Amendment Party at 1800 L Street, Northwest
A glitzy celebrity party in the old Borders space? We had our doubts, even (especially?) when we walked past on Thursday and saw burly men bringing in drapes upon drapes upon drapes. For one thing, what about bathrooms? Are you really going to get Charlize Theron to pee in a space that's hosted most of Farragut North's homeless population at one point or another?
We were wrong. The space looked fantastic and was utterly transformed, with billowing white drapes upstairs, a Volkswagen sitting proudly by the doors, and what can only be described as a Marie-Antoinette-meets-fuchsia-meets-PowerPoint theme downstairs. The vast subterranean level filled up fast; most people hovered around the roped-off VIP area (which Modern Family's Jesse Tyler Ferguson described later to Washingtonian's Carol Joynt as being uncomfortably like a goldfish bowl). The cocktail bar had Rasika's Jason Strich and Minibar's Owen Thomson shaking things up, while countless projector screens showed videos of everyone from Ron Paul to Theron (Theron herself giggled and pointed at her face on the screen when she was hustled into the VIP area, wearing jeans and a plain white top).
Also in attendance? Everybody. The lower deck was filled with most of K Street, the Hill, and more, while the VIP area also boasted Rosario Dawson, Glee's Matthew Morrison, Ferguson, Chace Crawford, and more. And there must have been a glut of avocados this year, because almost everything we were offered (guacamole bites, guacamole mini tarts) had the superfood in it.
Saturday, April 28, 6:30 PM: ABC News and Yahoo News's Pre-Party at the Washington Hilton
While most attendees snapped pictures of Kim Kardashian and Lindsay Lohan at the Washington Post and Newsweek parties downstairs, we were yahoo-ing it up on the Columbia lawn in what was a (thankfully) tented affair. Early guests included Rahm Emanuel posing for pictures with fans and talking animatedly with Sandra Fluke, the New York Times' Brian Stelter looking confused, and Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet, but things definitely got an upgrade when Sofia Vergara arrived in the highest pair of Louboutins Washington's ever seen. She chatted graciously with guests and posed for countless pictures, unlike Kevin Spacey, who looked distinctly frosty when we asked him about his appearance at the Helen Hayes Awards earlier this week.
One downside of being outside(ish)? The natural light meant everyone's makeup appeared positively clownlike, giving Mr. Spacey a very bronzed appearance and looking heavily over-applied on guests from Diane Sawyer to Barbara Walters (the latter of whom looked gorgeous in a gold beaded gown). Late arrivals included another Modern Family star, Julie Bowen, and George Stephanopoulos.
Saturday, April 28, 8 PM: the Hilton Bar
While most of the VIPs were heading to the dinner, we went upstairs to the Hilton bar, where countless tourists were standing behind a rope hoping for pictures of celebs. Our expectations didn't go much beyond sitting down for a minute or so, so we were pleasantly surprised when Judd Apatow and wife Leslie Mann sat down at the next table over, and were mostly ignored by the fan frenzy going on in front of the bar. Mann looked stunning in a long, floral-print dress, and both posed happily for the lone photographer who headed their way. Our note? If you can't score invites next year, head to the bar between parties and see who stops by.
Saturday, April 28, 10 PM: Thomson Reuters Post-Party, the Washington Hilton
Things were mostly quiet during dinner at this glitzy after-party, which served up boozy ice cream floats, Domaine Ott rosé, and Champagne to guests waiting for the entertainment to begin. A live violinist, drummer, and bongo player accompanied the recorded music, and things rapidly got hectic after dinner guests flooded in. Celebrities were pretty thin on the ground, but we did see J.R. Martinez walking through at one point.
Saturday, April 28, 11:30 PM: MSNBC Party, the Italian Embassy
Security was tight, and the rain was falling in sheets, so the red (blue) carpet got soggy fast while guests were giving their names to the assembled teams. Inside, the Italian embassy had been transformed into a palatial political mecca, with basically anyone who's ever been called a "nerd" or a "wonk" getting down on the dance floor. We spotted David Gregory grooving, Michael Steele showing off his custom-tailored shirts and jeweled cufflinks, Eliot Spitzer at the bar, Ezra Klein and Annie Lowrey watching the action, Jeff Zeleny on crutches, Chris Matthews and Ed Schultz with their wives, Martin Bashir in the quiet area behind the dance floor, and, weirdly, Glee's Darren Criss talking with friends. This was a late show, so things stayed rowdy until well into the wee hours, when everyone from Rosario Dawson and WHCAD host Jimmy Kimmel showed up. We missed most of the food, but servers toted trays of French fries and cannoli, and bartenders mixed Champagne cocktails at "Maddow's Bar," named for the MSNBC host.