There was one last big blowout to catch before Holiday Party Season 2006 wound down: The annual Wenner Media extravaganza. With the bank busted on Rolling Stone's 1,000th-issue celebration in May, this year's holiday gathering was less glitzy in the past, with no big-name musical act slated to perform. But that didn't stop indefatigable party reporter Julia Allison. Her wrap-up — her final wrap-up of the season — is after the jump.
It was easy to find Ultra, the West Side club hosting the Wenner Media holiday party, last night: It was the bar with the 30-foot Christmas tree out front made up entirely of Wenner covers. Inside, Rolling Stone, Us Weekly, and Men's Journal staffers were packed more tightly than at any holiday party we'd seen. With movement almost impossible and gridlock around the lone bar, some guests got cranky. "It doesn't feel like a holiday party," said one Rolling Stoner. It was loud, too, though we liked the music. (George Michael and "Girls Just Want to Have Fun"? Did Jann approve of this playlist?). Photographers circled the room, and the picture-crazy crowd was more than happy to pose, whipping out their own cameras for additional shots, too — a behavior we did not see at any other party and for which we squarely blame Us Weekly. (Magazine editors — they're just like us!)
At one point bubbles — Christmas bubbles? — fell from the ceiling, but staffers were unimpressed. "This sucks," grumbled a guy who said he'd been at "hundreds" of Wenner parties. "Maroon 5 played one year." It seems the recent blowout 1,000th-issue bash left this party's budget lower than usual. "We only had money for food, basically," an event producer explained. It was good food, though: kabobs of various sorts; a sushi stand; and a chocolate fountain with marshmallows, strawberries, and Rice Krispies Treats. The liquor selection was apparently less impressive. "I asked for a single-malt scotch," kvetched one Rolling Stone editor. "I got Maker's Mark." (Judging by the sweet smell wafting from the VIP room, booze may not have been the big shots' inebriant of choice.) Even so, revelers looked happy. "This is ten times better than last year," said one. "Instead of congregating in cliques, people have to actually talk to each other." Jann and Janice were MIA — sick, said one guest; on vacation, said another — so we had to console ourselves with the "semi-credible rumor" that Justin Timberlake would attend. He never showed — and so he missed the gingerbread men frosted with "Wenner Media" given to guests on their way out. His loss.
Verdict: Food: 4; drink: 3.5; venue: 4 (if you like packed crowds; if not: 3); debauchery: 3.5; exclusivity: 3.5
Correction, Dec. 20: We're reliably informed Janice Min did arrive, later in the evening.