Someone Actually Invited Me is a new column in which Kara Brown accepts the invitation to just about any open bar event she is invited to. She mostly wants to see if people will keep inviting her to fancy parties.

Music was this week’s theme, as I was invited to both an event at The Viper Room and pre-party for the American Music Awards. (Technically, Jezebel EIC Emma Carmichael was invited to the AMA party, but transferrable invites are a beautiful thing.)

Event: Viper Room Relaunch Party

The first and, really, only thing that pops into my head when I hear the words “Viper Room” are, Isn’t that the place where River Phoenix died? It is. It is also a music venue of the rock persuasion.


Location: The Viper Room

Valet: Free valet! Classy move, Viper Room. I did not drive because in the age of Uber, driving in Hollywood is probably the least necessary thing you can do in the entire Los Angeles area. However, my friend did drive, and he was happy.

Food: No food. Rock and roll.

Drinks: I was rather surprised with how easy it was to get drinks at this open bar, which I suppose is mostly a good thing. This just struck me as the sort of crowd who would really take advantage of free booze. There was some sort of special cocktail that I did not have but would probably order at a bar if given the opportunity.


HOWEVER, I did order a Stella and about halfway through drinking it, I realized that whatever I was drinking probably definitely wasn’t a Stella. Considering how long it to me figure it out, I’m not sure who to blame for that one.

Crowd: There was one incredibly tall man in attendance which is not particularly notable, but I’m going to note it.


I think it goes without saying that there was a lot of leather at this event. Los Angeles aesthetics are an interesting thing. We kept seeing people who we momentarily thought were certain celebrities, only to realize that they weren’t. I have to believe that most of these people were hoping for this exact reaction. Like dude, you know you look like Liam Hemsworth in the right lighting which is why you have the exact same haircut as him. We get it!

My best summation of these people is that everyone either sort of looked like they were, would be friends with, or would date Jax Taylor from Vanderpump Rules.

Celebrities: The tip sheet promised quite the bevy of celebrities. In fact, the tip sheet included so many celebrities that, coupled with my years of working in PR, I had enough sense to doubt that most of them would show up. I had doubt because celebrities are flaky and routinely don’t show up to things they aren’t contractually obligated to attend. We did a few sweeps around the VIP area and didn’t recognize anyone. I began to wonder if there was another ultra VIP section of the Viper Room that I couldn’t find.


As it turns out, in the post release, I learned that Shane West (who is apparently still branding himself as his character from A Walk to Remember), Vanessa Hudgens....

...this lady who I know is Cheryl Burke although I don’t know why I know that, Alessandra Ambrosio....


...this guy from Glee (I think), and this guy who I can’t place but who I know I’ve seen in something...


...all attended the party. Good for them and good for the Viper Room.

Gift bag: Lol can you imagine?

Overheard: “I’d see them early in the day at Coachella.”

This was said about Stokeswood, the band that was performing. This is a very specific and, honestly, a pretty solid compliment.


Event: The Coca Cola American Music Awards Pre-Party

Did you know that the American Music Awards were created by Dick Clark? I did not. And I only know this now because my friend Lindsey and I spent much of the night wondering what organization was responsible for giving out these awards and in writing this post, I finally remembered to Google it.


Location: The Conga Room

The Conga Room is some sort of nightclub or event space at LA Live, which is a Disneyland-esque area in downtown Los Angeles. It’s technically an entertainment complex and is where almost every LA awards show that’s not the Oscars takes place.

I hadn’t heard of the Conga Room before but honestly, I would go to almost anything at a place called the Conga Room. I would not, however, want to be subjected to the red lighting that Coke installed which you will see in most of my pictures. You really can’t ever say that Coca Cola isn’t on brand.


Valet: No, and honestly that would be impossible at this location.

Food: We were treated to hors d’oeuvres as well as a small buffet with mini banh mi sandwiches, tacos, corn on the cob and hot dogs.

Right off the bat, Lindsey 86’d the corn on the cob for good reasons. When I’m invited to a moderately fancy cocktail party I’m not sure that I’m necessarily in the mood to eat an enormous bacon-wrapped hotdog and corn on the cob. To be clear, I did eat the hotdog because hotdogs are delicious, but it was incredibly awkward and I felt like the whole room was watching me.


Giant hot dogs and corn on the cob: great for a barbecue, but maybe don’t at your cocktail party.

Other notable dishes include a mini grilled cheese and shot of tomato soup that, from a distance, definitely looked like some sort of elaborate shot of alcohol.


And these red velvet “Twinkies” that I’m pretty sure were just red velvet cake in the shape of a Twinkie—not that I’m complaining.



Drinks: They had some incredibly friendly bartenders up in that joint. That’s always fun. Plus, the absence of a tip jar suggested to me that they were already being paid pretty well. That Coke money is real.

The one misstep was a Bacardi Coke float that was as aggressive as it sounds.


Crowd: I have to assume that half the people there work for Coke and boy, were they having a great time. At one point, Lindsey turned to me and said, “Everyone here is having fun. It’s uplifting.”

Guys, even the cater waiters were getting down. I’m serious. One man who I think was a manager was doing spins and there was a homegirl who was pop and locking with a tray of food in her hand.

There was also an elderly magician. It was unclear if he was hired for the event or just an eccentric guest.


I counted 12 teens in attendance as well as a grown man wearing a jacket but no shirt.

Celebrities: The party was hosted by Bow Wow and, well, he was there.


At one point, he said,“If you’re celebrating a birthday, happy birthday to you.” So, that was friendly.

A gentleman by the name of DJ Cassidy “spun” at the event. DJ Cassidy, as I learned that night, is a completely different person from the rapper Cassidy.


I also learned that DJ Cassidy is big fan of yelling “Party people in the place to be, you’re rocking with Cassidy,” over and over and over and over.

I spotted Jenni Pulos of Flipping Out fame because my god I watch a lot of television. She seemed like a pretty random attendee until I saw that she was doing sponsored interviews on the AMA red carpet.

And then there was Frankie Grande. We have talk about Frankie Grande.


From the corner of my eye I spotted a curious-looking little man. He was in a silk suit with a mane that I’m sure all the animals in the jungle would be envious of. He was sending a Snapchat or making a video or a .gif of his silver shoes while he did something weird with his feet, which I’m guessing was dancing. “Who could this person be?” I thought. Then it clicked and I cringed as I remembered Ariana Grande’s older half-brother from a past edition of Shade Court. Apparently he’s also a Broadway performer, so that’s nice for him.

We watched him for a solid three to five minutes because truly, it was hard to stop. He was bopping around and taking selfies with a small group of people who looked like well-dressed teens but maybe were not teens.

Watching Frankie Grande stressed me the hell out. And it wasn’t just the mild stress of secondhand embarrassment; this was something deep. I felt the stress of ten thousand lives all at once—ten thousand hard lives. It was like experiencing the lifetime culmination of stress of many coal miners simply from watching Frankie Grande breathe and live his life. I will not soon forget it.


Gift bag: There as not a gift bag per se, but possibly something better. OPI was sponsoring a manicure section. It seemed very random to get your nails done and then wait for them to dry at a party, but whatever!

I painted my nails that afternoon but I had them put red glitter over my black polish because I just wanted to participate. Lindsey had her nails painted “Coca Cola Red” because that company is an inescapable branding machine.


We were also given two free OPI nail polishes and an emory board marked “1X Use,” although I think that was for hygienic purposes.

There was a “custom” t-shirt and hat station as well. I wanted to make a t-shirt that said, “Emma Rocks!” but you had to choose from two Coke templates, proving that their use of the word “custom” was rather dubious.


Overheard: “Damn, Coca Cola has great taste in new artists.”

You sort of have to read this quote with a bit more irony than earnestness. Aside from the booze, the highlight of the evening was easily a performance by an artist named Gabi Wilson. I don’t think I was expecting much from this show but this young lady was a pleasant surprise. She sounded excellent and she plays the guitar. She did a great cover of “Four Five Seconds,” which gave you a glimpse of Rihanna with stronger vocals.


I hope she makes great music and becomes famous and I wanted to give her a shout-out so here is her shout-out.

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Viper Room Images via Vivien Killilea/Getty. Lede image and Coca Cola AMA Pre-Party images via Todd Williamson/Getty.