Watching the Election and the People Who Watched the Elections Last Night

Dianne Wray

Among the items for sale last night at the Obama for America party at Gilley's

In our last last-night round-up, a tale of three parties – most of which involved drinking and staring at televisions. We’ll begin with the biggest: the Obama Dallas for America party at Gilley’s, which was loaded down with familiar faces among the 1,000-plus in attendance who, apparently, didn’t want to head to Bishop Arts. But the song remained the same nonetheless, with folks sipping on bottles of Shiner, perusing the Obama merchandise and spontaneously hugging, crying, dancing, laughing, cheering, etc.-ing. By the time the president-elect came on the screen, the crowd went into a sort of joyful frenzy -- more tears, some dancing, more camera flashes. (Our slide show from Gilley's and the night's other gatherings, including the GOP shindig at the Radisson, can be found here.)

Louis Jordan, an African-American federal contractor, said of the occasion: “I feel blessed, but I always knew it would happen.” That sentiment was repeated throughout a room festooned with clusters of red, white and blue balloons. The frenzy reached a fever pitch when Obama made his acceptance speech; the crowd roared as strangers threw their arms around each other.

In other words, it was the exact opposite of the Young Professionals Organization of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce and the World Affairs Council Youth Organization -- think business-casual khaki pants -- Election Night party at the McKinney Avenue Tavern. Everyone was so busy excitedly networking that the TV talking heads couldn’t be heard over the din. The coverage could only be heard and understood in the bathroom -- sanctuary.

And, lastly, for those who like their political upheaval served with a bit of class and style, the Hotel St. Germain was the place to be. A valet, with strict instructions to keep the riffraff out of the hotel, stood at attention out front while inside servers in black tuxedos, pristine white gloves and polished French accents led customers to their tables.

There were about 13 people in the dining room where Grace Kelly once had breakfast and where royalty has frequently stayed (so Bill Armstrong, the public relations person, duly noted). The guests dined on rolls, rice, mushrooms, beef stew, and crème Brule and sipped champagne while turning occasionally to see what the coverage on CNN had to report.

Armstrong took a bite of portabella mushroom and glanced at the flat screen TV. “Oh, Obama has just gotten Pennsylvania,” he said. “I hope we have eight years of Obama, and eight years of Hilary. And then I’ll be happy, and by the time they elect another reactionary Republican I’ll be dead.” The room was beautiful -- eerie with high ceilings, thick carpets, the definition of opulence. There was a polite exclamation of approval when another Ohio went for Obama. Also, a titter as Christian, the head server, refilled the glasses of champagne. –Dianna Wray

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky