It may have started out slowly, but the All Star Weekend party was on last night. LoDo was rockin’, the limos lined the streets, and the clubs were thick with men in minks, women draped in diamonds, and star athletes and celebs cropping up all over town.
At the National Basketball Players Association Ice Gala last night, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic opened for Nelly, who was joined on stage by Jermaine Dupri and Ludacris for a crowd-pleasing collaborative set. TV stars and NBA ballers were sprinkled in among the 2,000 or so guests, and no one seemed to mind paying $16 for a Hpnotiq mojito at the bar. On Saturday night, Denver finally got its groove on.
I’ll try to keep it short and sweet, but here’s how the scene went down for Day Four of the All Star madness.
Convention Center, NBPA Ice Gala, 9 p.m. We arrive at the Convention Center for the Ice Gala, rumored to be the most celeb-heavy crowd in town tonight. First things first though. How the heck do we get into this place? We wander around for what seems like forever, bounce from one entrance to the next, asking clueless security people for directions. All we get is confused, but we finally find the limos. We’re here.
Ice Gala, 10 p.m. Avianne jewelers has a display of B-to-tha-Ling, with custom sparklers on loan from NBA and NFL stars. (Lenny Walls’ stoplight pendant, Waylon Edwards’ massive diamond-studded globe.) These are huge hunks of diamonds and platinum. I drool. There’s more ice here than over at the Perrier Jouet champagne bar, where three massive ice sculptures rise ten feet above the chilling flutes. This is a well-heeled crowd, fo’ sho’. I’ve never seen so many mink coats in one room in my life. Minks are not coat-checked; fur is the new bling, especially for men.
The celebs are starting to trickle in through the VIP entrance. Tonight, I’m in the party, not working the red carpet. Still, I can’t help it. We wander over. MC Lyte arrives and graciously talks to reporters and TV crews. WNBA star Lisa Leslie walks in. Girl’s got legs, and she’s not afraid to show ’em. Next, Gina King from the movie “Ray” waltzes through the throng of press. Danny Masterson arrives (Hyde from “That 70s Show”) with his entourage. NBA Hall of Famer Moses Malone, however, takes the regular entrance and walks in quietly. Someone asks him why he’s not on the red carpet, and he says, “Man, no one recognizes me anymore.” I find this hard to believe (as my husband has just gleefully pointed him out), but still, it makes me realize how shallow this whole sport of celebrity-worshipping really is. I move on.
Ice Gala, 11 p.m. Shallow though I may be, this is my assignment for the weekend. I’m trying to go incognito, since the press has been relegated to the red carpet area. I work the room in stealth mode, doing loops and quickly jotting down names of anyone famous.
It seems I’ve become a racial profiler. Any black man over six foot five is a possible suspect. I’m getting a kink in my neck, but it’s working. I spot Dominique Wilkins, Robert Parrish, Paul Pierce, Marcus Camby. Grant Hill’s chowing down on roast beef at one of the many well-stocked buffets. Kyle Korver and Chris Andersen are in the room; some white boys really can jump. (Editor’s note: Clearly Kat missed the Slam Dunk Contest — on Saturday at least, Mr. Andersen could neither jump nor slam.)
George Clinton’s getting funky on stage, and the crowd’s getting thicker. I meet Larry White, Terrell Davis’ real estate partner, who’s dancing close to the stage. Later, I meet Terrell waiting in line at the bar. I ask if he’s hitting any after parties later. “Yeah, I might go to Carmelo’s, if I don’t run out of gas first. I’m getting old!”
Ice Gala, midnight. Nelly takes the stage, and I wiggle up to the front row. The bass is so deep my ribs are humming, and a security guy wags a finger at me for snapping digital photos. Ludacris and Jermaine Dupri join him on stage and the crowd is eating it up. For the first time this weekend, I’m just joining the fun, drinking and dancing like everyone else. After the show wraps, DJ Biz Markie keeps the party going a little longer, but it’s breaking up. I see Larry White again. He and Terrell are going to a private party at 7th & Santa Fe. Something about Black Swan? I don’t know the club, but sure, I’m down. Off we go.
Black Swan, 2 a.m. We pick up my friend Rick along the way as he exits the P. Diddy party we missed at The Church. He met P.Diddy, briefly, but after spending seven hours at the same club he’s ready for a change of scenery. We arrive at an art gallery at 7th & Santa Fe, name-drop, and get past the security and even skip the $25 cover. Inside, the scene is dead. It’s 2 a.m. and apparently we’re early. The DJ is spinning the same songs we’ve heard all weekend. Snoop Dog, Nelly, J-Kwon. Yes, everybody in the club gettin tipsy. Got it. We’re outta here.
Club Carmelo, 3 a.m. Off to Club Carmelo. The parking lot is full, and limos line the perimeter. We walk up to the door, but the bouncer cuts us off. What? We have passes, and the club is open until 6 a.m. What’s the deal? I’m told that they have decided to close it up early, but Rick hears that it’s because of too many fights. Sure enough, the paramedics pull up, and we see a pool of blood in the parking lot. Soon the cops are swarming, lights and sirens flooding the lot. A firetruck is heading in as we pull away.
Black Swan, 3:30 a.m. We drop Rick off and return to the private party to see if it’s picked up. The crowd has gotten better, but it’s not exactly hopping. Terrell and Larry are here, but the rest of the crowd just looks like out-of-towners trying to create something out of nothing. The guy beside me on the couch agrees. “Denver doesn’t have a scene at 3 a.m.,” he says. “New York, LA, yeah. But it just doesn’t happen here.”
Assured that I’m not missing anything, it’s officially time to go home.