The night started with a police escort! No, it wasn’t a funeral. We were on one of the many chartered city buses headed for the Democratic National Convention’s Media Party in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The clouds looked ominous as we hopped on a CATS Lynx light rail train to go a couple of miles to the Stonewall Street station where it looked like a battalion of police, buses and volunteers waiting to march us into position to board the party bound buses.
Among the long list of items listed on the back of the credentials banned from the party, besides obvious weapons, were umbrellas. Luckily we saw it as we were waiting for the train and we able to put ours back in the car. Others weren’t so lucky. The branches of trees by the buses were heavy with forbidden umbrellas as the raindrops started to fall.
With several buses loaded at a time, the motorcycle cops pull into position, flip on the sirens and off we go. Media usually covers motorcades. Rarely do we ever get to be in one so it was fun to zip thru red lights. If I was a driver stopped at a green light, I would have been pissed to see the police being followed by a city bus full of partygoers but being on the inside gave it a festive atmosphere.
As we got off the bus, the sprinkles turned into a downpour but the organizers thought of everything. Volunteers were handing out rain ponchos as we hurried towards the venue from the parking lot.
The NC Music Factory is a discombobulated complex made up of music venues, restaurants, bars and clubs. The first place we headed for was the closest, VBGB but it was packed to capacity (probably because of its proximity to the entrance from the parking lot) so we turned around and saw Halo where the orgy of eating, drinking and entertainment began.
The rain and the fact that a lot of the media are probably burned out from just spending a week in Tampa with the Republicans probably had an impact on the attendance numbers. Guesses probably put partiers at around a few thousand but it’s hard to tell because everyone was so spread out.
We didn’t see any stars and only ran into one local friend. Because I have worked in the media in so many cities, I was hoping I would see some old friends from other places but that was not to be. Nor did I find any of my co-workers who I know were there from posts on their Facebook pages. It looks like most of the people there were the worker bees behind the scenes, probably second and third tier production people.
There was the local weekend weather person on our bus, as well the very important woman from some large media outlet with her VIP credentials that gave her access to two places we minions couldn’t go. She had a swagger that told us she would get her story no matter what. And someone saw Ray Suarez from PBS.
We also met a nice man who looked a little like Morley Safer and worked out of the DC office of ABC on the bus ride back. We spent most of the time discussing our elderly pets. Who knows how we got on that subject?
Then we turned to the reason for the party, the conventions. Some brief insight from things that happened in Tampa and moments later we were back where our journey began. It was a good night.
You know it’s a good party when you need a map. Not to get there but to navigate the party itself. These are the maps of venues, menus and entertainment.