RNC '08: Crashing the party

Article by: Christy DeSmith | August 28, 2008 - 2:19 PM

When 35,000 people, mostly Republicans, converge upon Minneapolis and St. Paul for the Republican National Convention, they will, truth be told, have very little to accomplish. As conventions go, the party's presidential candidate is certain, the platform is well understood. The RNC will essentially be a pep rally, a giant, orgiastic networking opportunity and a handy excuse to overeat, drink and indulge liberally in other sinful behavior.

And that's precisely why Twin Cities boosters have been salivating ever since 2006, when St. Paul won the distinction of hosting the convention. With an influx of corporate sponsors, lobbying dollars and deep-pocketed delegates, the economic ripples will be mighty. But for our purposes, it's more important to note the social impact: Conventions come replete with all manner of soirées, happy hours and celebrity appearances -- not to mention an influx of sexy, politically connected convention-goers with whom to mingle and flirt. So leave your affiliations at the door, party people. Let's give our Republican countrymen a warm Minnesota welcome while, at the same time, leeching off the enormous, metro-wide bender that is the RNC.

Fancy meeting you here!

If the heart is set on mingling with these folks, but you're not lucky enough to procure an invitation to any VIP happenings, try planting yourself along the delegates' trade route. Although the convention is at the Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul, convention-goers are staying at hotels throughout the metro area.

Members of the California delegation are at Hotel Sofitel and Sheraton South, both in Bloomington, whereas flush Arizonans and Nevadans are living large at the swank Saint Paul Hotel. Socially ambitious party-crashers might hang around the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis -- that's where the national delegation is staying. On the other hand, Connecticut and South Dakota delegates, the poor chumps, are staying at hotels in far-away Maple Grove. But it's the Wyoming delegates who really got a raw deal -- they're stuck at the Hilton Garden Inn in Shoreview.

Hotels make a great base for hunting the honeys -- even those that aren't lodging delegates are booked with special events. The Republican State Leadership Committee has an opening reception scheduled at Chambers on Sunday evening. That very same night, those silly Connecticut Republicans are hosting an un-ironic "evening in Venice" at the Holiday Inn in Maple Grove. Graves 601 Hotel is the site of a Makers Mark- and GQ-sponsored event on Tuesday evening. The very next evening, the hotel is booked with an event called the "Gay Old Party."

The Twin Cities' best restaurants and bars will house all manner of special events. Should you want to take your mother for, say, a glimpse of Anderson Cooper, try stalking the CNN Café -- the cable news network is setting up shop at the Eagle Street Grille. Wonks from the National Journal will host daily events at the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant. So far, we know Anheuser-Busch will have a hospitality suite at McGovern's. The Republican State Leadership Committee has a series of receptions scheduled for the blue-collar hangout of Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub. Brit's Pub is the setting for many a party, including an AT&T-sponsored reception for California delegates and the "Young Guns Reception," both on Tuesday. As it happens, the action even extends to the morals-free zone of the Minneapolis Warehouse District: Aqua, Epic, Karma and the Fine Line have plenty of bookings for private concerts, parties and delegate receptions.

In other words, if you're on the make for Republicans, you needn't plant yourself near the Xcel Energy Center. The action is spread across the Twin Cities -- but it looks to be particularly rich along St. Paul's W. 7th Street and in downtown Minneapolis.

REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION

Convention cheat sheet

SUNDAY

  • The Sunlight Foundation has Sammy Hagar headlining the Southern delegation party at First Avenue.

MONDAY

  • Beach Boys frontman Mike Love headlines the official RNC kickoff party at International Market Square.
  • A group of fiscally conservative women called RightNow! teams with Lifetime and Rock the Vote for the unfortunately named Political Chicks party at Bar Fly.
  • party at Solera with a rare whiskey and cognac tasting bar as well as a cigar-smoking lounge.
  • Red, Rhythm & Rimes: LeAnn Rimes headlines an event with the expressed purpose of "Keeping Florida a Red State" at Trocaderos.
  • Conveniently, patriotic country singer Toby Keith closes out the State Fair grandstand.

TUESDAY

  • The California delegation is partying at the Nicollet Island Pavilion. One source with the city of Minneapolis says Arnold is rumored to be making an appearance.
  • Texas Honky Tonk featuring Gretchen Wilson, John Rich and Cowboy Troy at Trocaderos.
  • Target is sponsoring the Creative Coalition Gala Concert. A version of this nonpartisan fundraiser, designed to encourage artistic involvement in today's most pressing issues, takes place in both Denver and Minneapolis. The Dems get the Black Eyed Peas, the GOP gets the Charlie Daniels Band. Other V.I.P. guests include Maggie Gyllenhaal and Spike Lee.

MISCELLANEOUS/CONTINUING

  • "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" will be taping at the History Theatre in downtown St. Paul, Tuesday through next Friday.
  • Tribute to the Ronald Reagan Revolution -- in other words, an '80s party -- at Aqua Nightclub next Thursday.
  • According to a source with the city of Minneapolis, it's the Financial Services Industry that has the best taste in venues -- they're hosting a series of late-night warehouse parties at lovely Theatre de la Jeune Lune.
  • The Walker Art Center is hosting 12 private events during the RNC. The most exciting of these is surely the Google/Vanity Fair closing party next Thursday, however the folks at the Walker are mum on further details.

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