Here's a little etiquette tip: In the years following a catastrophic global economic meltdown, those whom the popular imagination bears responsible should refrain from ostentatious displays of wealth for a little while. It might be a quaint custom, sure, but society expects a bit of restraint from those it blames – rightly or wrongly! – for financial calamity. No open bars, no Blue Man Group performances, no strippers. At the very least, keep all that on the down-low.
But at some point that mood begins to thaw. Champagne flutes and tassels slowly reemerge from their long hibernation and the scent of hors d'oeuvres settles like a mist over lower Manhattan. Apparently, now is that time. From Reuters:
Wall Street holiday parties this year took place in luxury venues like the Waldorf Astoria, featured women dressed as glowing angels, and had fine wine, scotch and bourbon on hand. But organizers of the soirées, conscious of tighter budgets and public scrutiny, are not eager to discuss the merriment. [...]
Catering managers and event planners said that while holiday party spending is still down relative to its pre-financial crisis peak, Wall Street is starting to come back on the scene. "It's a more optimistic climate," said Bill Spinner, director of catering at The Pierre, a Taj Hotel in New York.
Part of this is just a cost issue. For the most part, profits on Wall Street still haven't returned to their pre-crisis peak, and there's less room on the balance sheet for splashy fêtes. Few banks were listed as big partiers in the Reuters piece, but hedge funds and private equity giants made up for their lack.
- Private equity firm Apollo Global Management celebrated at a midtown Greek restaurant where living statues dressed up like Grecian gods posed for attendees.
- Cliff Asness's AQR Capital essentially dragged a circus sideshow into Cipriani, complete with snakes, swords, and champagne poured through nitrogen steam.
- Blackstone took over the Waldorf Astoria for a suit-and-tie affair whose crowd, Reuters said, “appeared to mostly be men.”
Parties outside of New York, however, seem to be where the real action is. Take PIMCO, whose London bash reportedly featured a performance from the Brazilian Fantasy Dance Company, whose shows look something like this:
In Poland, Credit Suisse threw a Great-Gatsby-themed party, in which a giant projection of Leo DiCaprio as Gatsby smiled down on revelers who wore Roaring-Twenties garb. Let's just hope no one reminds Credit Suisse how that story – and that decade – ended.
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