Sundance Film Festival

What Not to Do at Night

Yesterday I wrote that Main Street on Thursday night was sure to be “vitalized.” My bad. It was … not dead exactly, but probably would have passed for an average weekend night here during spring break.

Sundance Opening Night Party
Sundance Opening Night Party

I wasn’t planning on going out. Knowing I had ten straight days of Sundance ahead of me, I figured I’d get a good night’s rest before all the madness began. I got home by 9:30, kicked off my boots, and turned on Colbert. I don’t have cable in NYC, so this qualified as luxury. My plan: an hour of TV, an hour with Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer, then bed. After all, I had to attend an 8:30 a.m. screening of TYSON on the other side of town, at the Racquet Club.

Some friends who are staying with me this week had different ideas. I resisted, but when a friend of theirs from the Sundance press office showed up and said he had to work at 6 a.m., I was shamed into giving the nightlife a shot.

Our first was a condo just up the hill from the rotary by Main Street, where three 18-year-olds from Philly, all in identical hoodies and tees, were prepping a spaghetti meal while mid-century jazz—Kind of Blue, was it?—blared from the built-in speaker system. I began to feel very old. And then I began to feel like an underachiever as the teenagers explained they ran a production company called Ventilation X—branded on their shirts, naturally—and that they’d been hired to shoot a video for a well-known European tire company, which was flying them out in a few months. Then one of them handed me a DVD of skateboarding, breakdancing, and parkour highlights that they’d produced.

The beer came. We left. On Main Street our first choice, Queer Lounge, was closed until today. We checked out the Music Café tent on Lower Main, which was rushing to be ready for today’s opening. It looked as cool, as one of my friends—“for a tent.” From there, we walked to the Town Lift, looking for someplace known as The Greenhouse. Instead we found the party for the opening night film, MARY AND MAX. My friend Deenah, a 23-year-old from L.A. and veteran party crasher, asked if she was on the list. Of course, there was no reason she’d be on the list.

“I was at the film,” she said, failing to mention how she had gotten into the screening: by calling the Sundance press office and saying she was from the New Yorker—true, but as an intern—and that her press credentials hadn’t come through.

Tao, a spot next door, also had a guest list (though, it appeared, few guests). We ruled it out because Deenah had already been there earlier, having crashed it for the free sushi. We considered trying our luck at Sundance’s opening night party, but none of us had tickets. (Having a press pass from the Sundance Channel doesn’t get you as far as you’d think). So we trudged back uphill and settled on Monsoon, a bar adjoining a Thai restaurant. After we sat down, the waiter asked us, “You guys are members, right?”

One of my friends stammered and another was about to say “no” when I, a longtime Park City visitor familiar with the state’s convoluted liquor laws, said, with as much assurance as possible, “Yes.” And so, alas, we did what nearly everyone at Sundance does: We drank and talked about celebrities.

Which is to say, I should’ve stuck with Colbert.