Eating — and Eating! — With the ‘Daily News’; Drinking and Dancing With ‘Star’

With less than a week left till Christmas, company-holiday-party season is nearing its end. But for a last few fabulous nights, it keeps going strong — and naturally crasher extraordinaire Julia Allison is there. Last night she hit the Daily News do at the Copa and the Star shindig at Dirty Disco. Which one had a face-painter? Which one had only caffeinated vodka? Julia's reports await.

• The immense West Side dance club Copacabana seemed an odd choice for the employees-only Daily News holiday party. Did they really need that much space? Would they really use the enormous dance floor? Was someone really under the impression it was hip? ("His name was Morty; he was a mogul …"?) Actually, in the newspaper biz, one thing is most important: proximity to work. "In case we have to crawl back afterward," a Newsie explained. Neither Rush nor Molloy was sighted, nor editor-in-chief Martin Dunn — perhaps they'd already crawled back — but a 200-strong gang happily devoured dinner at several dozen tables while others washed down their meals by the large bar. A fedora-wearing face-painter made his rounds; only one employee — from the Brooklyn bureau — took him up on it, though that was one more than we'd have guessed. Later, as the lights were dimmed and the music turned up, a brave handful actually started dancing. "I'm not Latin, but I feel Latin being here," said one. We didn't feel Latin. We felt like we were at a bar mitzvah with old people and good food. Really good food. Did we mention the food? It was the best we've seen in our holiday-party-crash career: Three massive buffets held grilled veggies, couscous, chicken, lamb chops, fish, steak, and shrimp. And the desserts! Chocolate cake, apple pie, carrot cake, a selection of fruit — raspberries, strawberries, kiwi, pineapple — and a sundae stand. Columnist Michael Daly was chewing roast pork alongside colleague Denis Hamill. How's the party? "There's an old saying," yelled Hamill, still chewing his pork. "If it ain't jaded, it ain't journalism." Um, okay. Any favorite part? "The applesauce." He didn't so much as smile.
Verdict: Food: 5; drink: 3.5; venue: 3; debauchery: 3; exclusivity: 3.5

• Down on 14th Street, at Dirty Disco, we strolled easily past the velvet rope and bouncer and into Star magazine's party. (Hmm.) At one point more than 200 people had crowded inside, we were told, but by 9:30 the party was clearly winding down, with just a few stragglers still dancing on tables to blasting hip-hop. (As we entered, it was "Promiscuous Girl." Hmm. Then again, the invite featured a winking, Santa-hatted Janice Dickinson.) Yelling was the only possible method of communication, and so adorable deputy New York bureau chief David Caplan had lost his voice — if not his holiday spirit — by the time we arrived. There were specialty drinks — "Star martinis," featuring caffeinated vodka — but nothing else for free at the bar, to not a few guests' chagrin.) There was also no food, so intoxication levels were high. Who was invited? Star employees, of course, but also: "Basically there was a list of haves and have-nots," explained Caplan, giggling. "I only wanted the haves." (See "high intoxication levels" above.) Apparently this included famous party-crasher Shaggy, who gave us some advice: "Just put one foot after the other." Britney Gastineau had arrived, clad in "full-on fur," toured around the party, took photos, and exited to meet Jonathan Cheban, waiting outside in a car. Bonnie Fuller, too, had been and left. Did she dance? "Bonnie was very sensible," Caplan said diplomatically. Fellow editor Jon Auerbach was less cautious. "Bonnie was crazy," he said, "doing the robot and the running man. She and Joe [Dolce] did the lambada!" He was also probably pulling our leg.
Verdict: Food: 0; drink: 4 (if you really like caffeinated vodka; if not: 1); venue: 3.5; debauchery: 3.5; exclusivity: 3.5